But 2014 wasn’t without its own challenges. The hours-of-service rules that took effect in July 2013 crimped fleet productivity anywhere from 3 to 5 percent. Infrastructure issues and increased congestion on America’s highways also took bites out of an otherwise great year. A recent study by the American Transportation Research Institute said trucking companies lost 141 million hours of productivity in 2013 as a result of congestion on the nation’s Interstate system, amounting to about $9.2 billion in lost revenue and the equivalent of 51,000 truck drivers being idle for one year.
While infrastructure and congestion issues were still a challenge last year and will remain so in 2015, the rollback of the HOS provisions as part of the latest spending bill that halts two requirements – that a 34-hour restart must contain two consecutive 1-5 a.m. periods and the restart must be limited to once per week – should allow carriers to recoup some of the resulting productivity losses experienced in the last year and a half. But the driver shortage and the impact of new and forthcoming regulations both threaten to erode fleet profitability.