FTR has released its Trucking Conditions Index for January, showing a nearly unchanged reading of 2.7 compared to December's 2.9.
FTR expected January to be the low point of the year for trucking conditions as it projects an uptick in 2017 as the year progresses. Productivity and capacity are projected to take a hit as a result of the upcoming ELD mandate but FTR said that early adopters will be ahead of the curve.
A big issue for the upcoming year is the longstanding driver shortage, which could cause companies to struggle to meet overall demand for new drivers. If capacity fails to meet demand, truckers would be able to raise prices, but the full impact will likely not be felt until late 2017 or into early next year.
“It’s looking like 2017 will be a better year for the trucking industry. This late recovery is consumer-driven, which is relatively light on increasing freight demand, but we will see modest growth,” said Jonathan Starks, FTR chief operating officer. “More importantly, the industry is really beginning to face up to the costs and changes from ELD implementation.”
While the trucking industry is feeling optimistic with the new Trump Administration in power, FTR cautioned that there are some risks associated with the economic proposals being considered by the president and by Congress.
“We are also closely tracking government policies and actions,” said Starks. “The main concern continues to be the possibility of trade wars, which could have immediate and detrimental impacts on freight transportation.”