Every year, the American Trucking Associations publishes American Trucking Trends.
It’s full of useful (and boastful) information that continues to reveal the importance of what truckers do every day— move from Point A to Point B (and sometimes on to Point C) the goods and services that keep American running.
Here’s just some of what we found in the report.
• According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, as of November 2009, the number of for-hire carriers on file with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration totaled 227,930, private carriers totaled 282,485 and “other” interstate motor carriers totaled 81,466.
• The carriers are pretty evenly distributed throughout the U.S. according to population. For instance, 19.7 percent of the U.S. population lives in the Southeast, 20 percent of the trucking companies are located there; 14 percent of the population lives in the Northeast, 15 percent of the trucking companies are located there.
• If you work for a small carrier, you’re in the majority. The report notes that 96 percent of the carriers operate with fewer than 20 trucks; nearly 88 percent operate with six trucks or less.
• Nearly 7.3 million people were employed in trucking related jobs in 2008. Nearly 3.4 million of these were truck drivers. The number of truck drivers declined by 72,000, or 2 percent, from 2007, according to the Department of Labor, not exactly a surprise given the economic situation.
• 95.1 percent of drivers are men, 4.9 percent women. Minority groups make up 33.6 percent of truckers. The percentage of women has remained pretty steady the past 10 years (from 5.3 percent in 2007 to 4.9 percent in 2008m a decrease of only .4 percent), while minority employment has increased from 26.8 percent in 1999 to the 33.6 percent figure in 2008.
• 10.2 billion tons of freight (primarily shipments only) was transported by trucks in 2008, representing 68.8 percent of the total domestic tonnage shipped.
• 29.6 million trucks were registered and used for business purposes (excluding government and farm) in 2007, representing 27.3 percent of all trucks registered. Of those, 2.8 million were Class 8 trucks. There were 5.6 million commercial trailers registered in 2007.
• 128.4 billion miles were logged by Class 8 trucks used for business purposes (excluding government and farm) in 2007.
• The large truck fatal crash rate continues to decline. In 1998, there were 2.33 fatal crashes per million vehicles miles traveled (VMT); in 2007 (the latest year for which data was available), the rate was 1.85.
• The Producer Price Index for Class 8 trucks continued to rise in 2008 as the prices received by domestic producers of new Class 8 trucks grew 2.9 percent from a year earlier. Class 8 truck prices jumped a total of 26.4 percent from 1998 to 2008. (Editor’s Note: the 2007 engine regulations contributed significantly to the 1998-2008 increase, just as the 2010 engine regulations will contribute significantly to another increase.)
• Despite the drop in demand for trailers in 2008, manufacturers were still able to raise prices 4 percent above 2007 levels. Trailer prices surged 30.1 percent between 1998 and 2008.
• According to Avondale Partners, LLC, in 2008, some 3,065 motor carriers with at least five trucks failed, which was 54 percent higher than 2007’s total. Clearly, the surge in diesel fuel prices and the economic recession took a toll on the industry. In 2008, the number of annual failures hit its highest level since 2001. However, despite the economic recession worsening in 2009, only 480 and 370 carriers failed in the first and second quarters, respectively. It is evident that the large drop in fuel prices from a year earlier saved some fleets.
So there is it: the “good,” the “it could be better” and the “bad.”
Mix it all up and the fact remains you are working for an important and vital industry!
Lyndon Finney of The Trucker staff can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.