ECONOMIC WATCH: ATRI data show see-saw truck activity

by Today's Trucking

ATRIATLANTA, Ga. –  There was a spike in truck activity from early February into March in six U.S. states, but demand has since fallen, the American Transportation Research Institute said Wednesday.

The rise was due to high consumer demand for items such as non-perishable food and paper products as well as the much-needed emergency medical supplies, ATRI said.

The survey looked at the impact of Covid-19 on the trucking industry in California, Florida, Pennsylvania, Washington, Illinois and New York from Feb. 9 through April 18.

ATRI said it converted its real-time GPS data into a truck activity index.

“The GPS data we use is a valuable tool into what is going on in the economy and the trucking industry right now,” said ATRI president and COO Rebecca Brewster.

“We knew from talking to drivers and carrier executives that there were significant impacts on operations as a result of Covid-19, but now, by analyzing this data we are able to put numbers and data to feelings and anecdotes.”

  • Of the six states analyzed, California had the earliest stay-at-home order issued on March 19. California also experienced the earliest upward spike in truck activity, occurring during the week of March 1. However, truck activity in California is now down 8.3% from early February.
  • In Florida, Illinois and New York, truck activity spiked the week of March 8 but is now down on average by over 10% from Feb. 9.
  • In Pennsylvania and Washington, truck activity spiked during the week of March 15, but is now down by an average of nearly 9% from Feb. 9.

“There are initial signs of a return to normal, however,” ATRI said.

“In New York, one of the earliest states to experience high numbers of cases, truck activity started a positive uptick during the week of April 12.”

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