ORLANDO, Florida — U.S. shippers and trucking companies ride a pricing 'roller coaster' with more stomach-punishing ups and downs than the Coney Island Cyclone. Derek Leathers, president and COO of Werner Enterprises, would like to shut the ride down. “I’m not casting blame, I’m questioning why we do it,” Leathers told the 2016 NASSTRAC Shippers Conference here Monday. He referred to what he called “aggressive procurement behavior” on the part of shippers looking to drive truckload rates lower in a soft market.
With the exception of maybe the cowboy, is there any job more typically “American” than being a trucker? Now, it’s time to rethink that as the industry increasingly depends on drivers from many parts of the world.
To see this shift up close, head 50 miles west of Los Angeles, just off Interstate 10, home to one of the busiest long-haul truck stops in the US. It’s where tired drivers often park their 18-wheelers for the night and eat, shower and relax before hitting the road again. It’s also where you’ll see just how multinational the trucking industry is now because of drivers like Harsharan Singh, originally from Punjab, India.
The changes currently happening in technology and automation are likely to change trucking as profoundly as the development of the Interstate Highway System, predicted Noel Perry Thursday in FTR’s monthly State of Freight webinar. “Most of the time, the future is not that much different, and the details of it are uncertain enough, that spending a lot of time worrying about what happens 10 years from now doesn’t make a lot of sense,” said Perry, an economist who has specialized in the transportation and logistics industry for decades.
Congestion on the nation’s highways added more than $49.6 billion in operational costs for the trucking industry in 2014, according to research released on April 19 by the American Transportation Research Institute.