What a roller-coaster ride the last 12 months have been. Let’s welcome 2023!
At this time last year, the trucking industry was riding the tailwinds of the biggest freight boom in 20 years. Those winds started shifting in March, bringing inflation, geopolitical turmoil, and plummeting spot rates.
Today, the air is filled with talk of a freight recession.
I don’t know what’s in store for trucking in 2023. I’ve retired from annual predictions after three years of market craziness.
Instead, let’s celebrate. Here’s some “trucking stuff” I’m happy about as 2022 draws to a close.
A short, mild recession
Happy to see Bob Costello, the chief economist for the American Trucking Associations, predict a relatively short and mild recession for the trucking industry.
Truckers have the OEMs to thank for it. Their long lead times and production struggles prevented a glut of trucks that would have led to a 2019-level rate collapse and a much longer recovery.
Driver Inc. promises
Happy the Canadian government might finally be getting the message.
The Driver Inc. model—which makes up an estimated 25% of Canada’s driver workforce—was formally acknowledged in the Fall Economic Statement. In late November, Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan seemed to up the game by committing to more enforcement and “issuing fines” to bad actors.
Sounds good, but we’ve seen the feds put on this dog-and-pony show before. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) needs to stop chasing honest businesses for personal gas receipts when there’s a billion-dollar pot of gold staring it in the face. Time to take the next step and blow away the black cloud hanging over the trucking industry once and for all.
Powder room problem
Happy that U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration included parking in its Trucking Action Plan.
According to the Truckload Carriers Association, access to safe parking is the most important issue facing professional truck drivers. It’s alarming that there is only one parking spot for every 11 truckers.
The lack of parking contributes to unsafe roads and weak supply chains. It also costs drivers financially. On average, it takes a driver almost an hour of driving time per day to find parking. That adds up to nearly $5,500 in lost wages per driver each year.
Hopefully, the U.S. Congress can help solve the “powder room” problem before dispatchers have to start giving drivers diapers with their paperwork.
Illegal parking crackdown
Happy that the city of Caledon, Ont., is cracking down on the illegal parking yards seemingly popping up on every farm.
Caledon is the province’s new epicenter of trucking. I drove through the area recently and was blown away by the unsightly scene of equipment scattered everywhere. I mean everywhere!
Proper parking facilities come with a hefty price tag. Operating illegal yards gives the clowns who don’t want to play by the rules another unfair advantage.
The Ontario Superior Court of Justice recently charged one of the perpetrators. Caledon has vowed to step up enforcement. Hopefully, CRA is listening.
ELDs are a go
Happy that on January 1 it’s all systems go for Canada’s ELD mandate.
ELDs are proven and the benefits are undeniable. They can level the playing field for smaller fleets whose CRM-driven 3PL customers want location and status reports like the big carriers can offer. Despite the noise from privacy watchdogs, ELDs are essential to competing in today’s data-driven trucking industry.
Happy that, in late November, Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Sean Fraser announced the implementation of the National Occupational Classification (NOC) for immigration programs managed under the Express Entry system.
Truck driving is now one of the occupations included in Express Entry. Fleets can finally benefit from expanded pathways to permanent residency and access to an international workforce previously unavailable to our sector.
Love and respect
Happy that people value and respect truckers more than ever.
According to a recent Abacus Research poll, more than three-quarters of Canadians believe trucking is one of the top two most important transportation modes. We’re also seeing more love from the powers that be in government.
Since the pandemic, the one constant in the trucking industry has been the improvement of our image. If the feeling endures, I’ll be ecstatic for many years to come.
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