FTR's Trucking Conditions Index for March improved to a reading of 6.4, a half point higher than the previous month, according to the May 2012 Trucking Update.
FTR forecasts the index to continue a steady climb throughout 2012, reaching a double-digit positive reading by early 2013.
FTR expects truck freight to increase at a 4% to 5% growth rate for the remainder of the year, putting pressure on capacity. This will allow truck fleets more leeway in the freight they choose to haul and at what rate.
The Trucking Conditions Index is a compilation of factors affecting trucking companies. Any reading above zero indicates a positive environment for truckers with readings above 10 a sign that volumes, prices and margin are in a solidly favorable range for trucking companies.
"Slightly weaker than expected freight volumes during the first quarter has kept a lid on seeing stronger upward movement in the TCI," says Jon Starks, director of transportation analysis for FTR. "The index shows the clear u-shaped pattern of industry conditions in 2011-2012 as the strong demand growth of 2010 faded. Now, with an improving economy and growing regulatory drag, market tightness is slowly developing again with trucking conditions expected to approach their favorable 2010 levels by year's end."
The Trucking Update published monthly is part of FTR's Freight Focus Series and reports data that directly impacts the activity and profitability of truck fleets.