Steering Through Trucking Industry Dynamics

April 19, 2024

Steering Through Trucking Industry Dynamics


Continental Logistics

As April ushers in warmer temperatures, baseball season, and tax season, the transportation industry continues its wild ride of regulations, disruptions, and evolution. In this month’s curation of industry news, we share updates and strategies to address the potential driver shortage, when the Baltimore Port will fully reopen, and how sustainability is shaping the industry.

Getting Testy on CDL Testing Requirements

Is loosening up CDL testing requirements the right move to compensate for job growth and the presumed driver shortage? FreightWaves reported that a new rule proposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) would do just that if passed. Fittingly titled “Increased Flexibility for Testing and for Drivers after Passing the Skills Test,“ the rule allows applicants to take the test in a different state than their residence and eliminates the waiting period between permitting and testing. In addition, a driver who has their permit and passed their skills test can drive with a CDL holder riding shotgun. Major carriers and the Commercial Vehicle Training Association (CVTA) support the changes, saying they eliminate red tape and boost efficiency. Other entities aren’t so sure as they question if lowering safety standards is the right approach.

Thank you, Uncle Sam

As we approach tax day, most people aren’t saying thank you to Uncle Sam. As reported by Supply Chain Dive, the recent disaster at the Francis Scott Key Bridge has spurred Maryland, followed by Virginia and Pennsylvania, to suspend specific tax regulations that typically apply to truckers hauling to or from seaports. This suspension waves the International Fuel Tax Association (IFTA) requirements through May 31 and extends the quarterly IFTA tax return deadline from April 30 to June 30. Virginia has introduced free, 30-day permits for container hauling that will remain in effect until the end of the state of emergency. The FMCSA also stepped in with a public information session to cover emergency declarations such as reducing regulations for ELD and drive time restrictions.

Volvo's Sustainability Strategy

Sustainability isn’t something that can be solved in a silo. Transport Topics highlighted how Volvo Trucks President Roger Alm plans to tackle this challenge, “We have also created 640 business partners (dealers and service partners) … that produce on behalf of us. They have contracted and they need to make sure they are fulfilling their requirements for the Volvo brand.”

Volvo's plan includes a shift to clean-energy vehicles, expanding its portfolio to include eight models of electric trucks, as well as fuel cell electric vehicles and internal combustion engines that utilize renewable fuels. “We are launching new best-in-class trucks that will set a benchmark for energy efficiency and reduction of CO2 emissions across the entire product range,” adds Alm. With 1.2 million heavy-duty trucks on the road globally, Volvo aims to convert these to net-zero emissions by 2050 to achieve greener logistics.

Stringent Environmental Regulations

According to FreightWaves, a recent court ruling upheld the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) ability to grant environmental waivers to California. Confirming California's ability to maintain and expand its stricter environmental regulations could encourage other states to seek similar waivers, thereby leading to a patchwork of emissions standards across the country. The lawsuit involved multiple plaintiffs, including 16 states and petroleum-focused trade groups. The court dismissed the plaintiffs' arguments on several grounds, affirming that the states had the right to present a constitutional challenge but ultimately rejecting their claim.

Timeline for Baltimore Reopening

We received some good news, courtesy of Supply Chain Dive, on the opening of a channel for the port of Baltimore. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) estimates the channel will open by the end of April with a depth of 35 feet and width of 280 feet, capable of supporting one-way traffic. USACE commanding general, Lt. Gen. Scott A. Spellmon shared this update, “A fully opened federal channel remains our primary goal, and we will carry out this work with care and precision, with safety as our chief priority.” By the end of May, the USACE expects to open a permanent channel capable of restoring the port to normal capacity.

Attracting the Next Generation

The FMCSA’s Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot Program (SDAP) was established to give the younger generation a taste of what a career in the trucking industry was like. The three-year program for potential drivers between the ages of 18 and 20 has yielded less than stellar results. FreightWaves reports carrier participation has been disappointing, and of the small number that applied, the FMCSA has rejected over a third for failing to meet safety requirements. The American Trucking Association’s Nathan Mehrens added while Congress meant for the SDAP to be “a pathway for younger drivers to enter the industry as a first career choice…additional mandates have stifled program participation, limiting the utility of data that Congress ordered be collected on drivers in this age cohort.”

Daimler Truck North America Sales Slide

Given the current economic conditions of higher interest rates, a down freight market, and high inflation, it’s not a shock to see a downturn in new truck sales. For Daimler Truck North America (DTNA), this downturn includes a 1st quarter year-over-year decrease in sales of 5%, according to Transport Topics. Global sales took a harder hit, dropping 13%. The silver lining for DTNA is in Battery-Electric Vehicle (BEV) sales increasing nearly 200%. While the overall sales numbers pale in comparison, it highlights the shifting strategies trucking companies are taking in terms of asset acquisition.

Preparing for the Next Wave in Transportation

The trucking industry is dynamic as it is valuable to our economy. At Continental Logistics, we are in the thick of it each and every day, helping our customers successfully navigate shipping challenges and capitalizing on opportunities. Our services include:

  • Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) – Master your freight strategy by leveraging our LTL services sure to reduce costs and waste.
  • Reefer Trucking – We handle temperature-controlled shipping for some of the biggest retail companies. From freezer to ambient temperature shipping, we have the right solution for your perishable shipping needs.
  • Intermodal Transportation – Leave the shipping to us by leveraging our intermodal services to improve sustainability, drive efficiencies, and save money.

At Continental Logistics, our services don’t end there. With a rich history in the transportation industry, we take pride in solving complex logistics challenges from Drayage, cross-docking, direct store delivery, and more. Contact Continental Logistics today to simplify your transportation strategy.

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