The environment for truckers remains modestly favorable with decent growth, capacity and pricing conditions as we enter 2012 -- but a severe capacity shortage that could significantly affect rates is less likely, thanks to a delay in new driver regulations, according to transportation forecasting firm FTR.

FTR's Trucking Conditions Index, as reported in the January 2012 Trucking Update, increased by slightly less than two points from the previous month to a reading of 5.2 in November. The TCI has now been in positive territory for over a year.

The TCI is projected to continue to move upward over the course of 2012, but the removal of HOS regulation changes from the 2012 equation has made a severe capacity shortage much less likely, say FTR analysts.

The Trucking Conditions Index is a compilation of factors affecting trucking companies. Any reading above zero indicates an adequate trucking environment with readings above 10 a sign that volumes, prices and margin are in a good range for trucking companies.

"The 2012 environment is coming into better focus now that it is certain that no changes in Hours of Service regulations will occur before 2013 at the earliest," said Larry Gross, senior consultant for FTR. "The conditions for the trucking industry will now turn on the fundamentals of supply and demand, as well as the continuing effects of existing new safety regulations such as CSA. We expect these factors combined will work to keep trucking capacity modestly tight over the course of the year, enabling continued progress on trucking rates for carriers."

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.