PRINCETON, N.J. — Driver turnover has been displaced by fuel costs and a slow US economy as the top concerns for fleets attending the annual ALK Transportation Technology Summit held recently.
The symposium brought together fleet executives and technology providers, who shared their concerns and discussed potential solutions.
“Fuel is crippling this industry,” said John White, executive vice-president of operations for US Xpress, one of North America’s largest carriers. He said current fuel surcharges are not enough to cover recent cost increases.
“Freight rates based on fuel costs of 17 to 18 cents per mile four years ago are now based on 26 to 30 cents per mile,” he said. “Moreover, hub miles – the actual distance a truck travels – are significantly higher than the shortest miles shippers most often pay for.”
Another fleet exec complained that billed miles are often 18% less than actual miles travelled, especially when hauling hazmat loads that must often be routed over longer distances to comply with local regulations.
On the bright side, White commented that freight volumes have bottomed out already and that a surplus of trucking capacity has eased.
“Soon, carriers will have more rate leverage with shippers,” he said. “We’re approaching equilibrium in the market.”
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