In the past 12 months, truckload carriers have been facing declining utilization despite solid financial gains driven by a better rate environment, according to TMW Systems’ latest Transportation & Logistics Study.

The study found that hours of service rules, and fleets that catered to driver preferences such as increased home time, impacted many fleets’ daily working percentages.

In order to retain drivers and lower turnover, fleets increased driver miles per week. Wages, fleet size, average length of haul and tractor-to-fleet manager ratio also affected turnover and again, affected asset utilization.

“There’s room both for enthusiasm about respondents’ improved financial performance and concern regarding the challenges that continue to negatively impact operational efficiency,” said TMW President David W. Wangler. “I am pleased to see that more and more fleets and non-asset enterprises use the market intelligence provided in this study to benchmark their operational performance and potentially uncover areas where they might need to take corrective action.”

Other insights in the study included a trend toward adopting more flexible business strategies. Some carriers replaced traditional dedicated contract freight services with hybrid blends of dedicated and regular service that comes with more flexible pricing and adaptive service levels on certain lanes. A growing number of carriers are targeting the brokerage and third-party logistics segments in order to diversify. Fewer fleets intended to expand into dedicated carriage and warehousing.

The report also found that fleets are continuing to adopt fuel-saving measures such as idle-reduction technologies despite lower average fuel prices in 2015.

The TMW industry study incorporates detailed information on covering rates, utilization, driver wages and retention, management of maintenance costs, diversification plans and other insights collected in 2015. The study received information from more than 150 transportation companies with combined revenues in excess of $31 billion.

The survey included more than 200 questions covering financial, operational and maintenance metrics.

To access and download a summary version of the study and to sign up to receive the survey questions for the 2016 study, visit: