Trucking Freight Rates Rising With Economy

As the U.S. economy recovers and the demand for trucks increases, I have had to formulate the following language to share with my customers:

I’m putting my thoughts to paper to explain how truck availability (capacity) is changing and how that will affect freight rates.

As you know, the United States and most of the world along with it, experienced a deep economic recession over the last several years.  During that period, hundreds of trucking companies downsized or ceased to do business and removed hundreds of thousands of trucks from the freight transportation system.  Many of these trucks were scrapped or exported to other countries and are not readily available to be put back in service.  As freight was limited, freight rates also fell in keeping with the laws of supply and demand.

Now, as economic conditions are improving, the demand for freight transportation is beginning to see a lot of pressure.  This is true in Laredo and all around the United States and Mexico.  As manufacturing increases globally, oil demand, and thus fuel prices are also rising.

The trucking industry has always had difficulty getting enough qualified drivers, and that problem is expected to get worse as the baby boomer generation reaches retirement.  One more factor that is expected to compound the driver shortage problem is the U.S. government’s new CSA safety rating program set to launch in fall 2010.  CSA will rate drivers’ and carriers’ safety performance much like a credit rating that follows an individual or business.  Carriers will become more selective about which drivers they hire and many drivers will be purged from the qualified driver pool.  The industry will be battling the capacity problem on several fronts, for several years.

Following are a few links to Internet articles on this subject: 

As a Landstar agent, I do not raise our rates in order to arbitrarily increase our profit line.  We only raise our rates when we have difficulty getting capacity for our customers.  During the recent recession, you noticed that our rates decreased because capacity was in surplus.  Now, the economic conditions have swung in the other direction.  In order to continue to supply you with quality capacity and service, the time has come for us to adjust our rates.

Amazon Kindle eReader

I had seen Amazon’s Kindle eReader advertised on their site since the fall of 2007. For months and months I just passed it over thinking it was just “another” reading device. I even received a few emails from Amazon promoting the device, but I already had a PDA reader and didn’t use it much because the screen was too small, the screen saver (or backlight dim) would come on or it irritated my eyes within just a short time of reading.

I love to go to the bookstore. Yes, I have a Barnes and Nobels’ repeat offender (oops… “purchaser”) card. My most recent purchase was over $300 including (as usual) titles like “Strengths Finder 2.0″, “Brian Tracy”, etc. etc. I don’t travel too much, but make a few trips to Mexico and Florida and around Texas each year. Thus, I love Audio Books too. Yes, I have an Audible frequenter subscription account too. I listen to motivational podCasts, CDs ripped to MP3, or Audio Books while driving or working out.

I am an “early adopter” of technology. I’ve usually dreamed about the device or software for years before it’s available. eReaders, however, have been around for a long time but I had just not developed enought interest or been able to place the device in my life.

Then one day somewhere around the end of April 2008, I received another one of those Amazon emails with a Kindle ad in it. Having past over it numerous times in the past, this time, I clicked. I don’t know why. I think I clicked half-mockingly to go make fun of the thing and see what humor I could find in the concept.

When the Kindle page loaded, however, I felt the joke was on me when I read there were now more than 100,000 titles available. Something about that clicked for me and I felt this thing (the Kindle) or at least eReading had gotten a foot-hold. On one hand it was still hard to take it seriously with an at-the-time (April 2008) price of $399, but on the other hand the large price was telling me I was missing something… after all, how can you charge $399 for something that displays text?!?

Still, I was possessed by the idea that I could have all those books that I normally buy on EACH trip to the book store all in one place, and with me all the time.  I could have any book for whichever mood I was feeling.  AND, I didn’t have to buy every book I “might” want to read “someday” while at the bookstore.  Instead, I could just instantly dowload the book when I was in that mood.  So I took the plunge and ordered by Kindle.   It is not a purchase that I regreted.  I had it for several years before ordering an iPad.  I also like Amazon’s Kindle reading apps for the iPhone and the iPad.  I love the Kindle and the Kindle Apps ability to take notes, that is important for me.

Schneider Trucking Jobs For GI's Not Good For All

Schneider National is offering special trucking recruiting incentives for veterans and some of their statements alarmed me. I hope this post helps anyone consider a position with Schneider look closely at what they are signing if they decide to go trucking with Schneider.

First off, I should explain that there is nothing that makes Schneider worse than any other trucking company. As trucking companies go, they are one of the better companies to work for. The problem is that, as trucking companies go, trucking companies are pretty bad. Schneider trains new drivers, so they’re a training company and as training companies go, they are even worse than non-training trucking companies. In summary, if you are not set on trucking and you’re looking at some other careers, go ahead and keep looking at other careers. There are many options out there better suited to make a better living at. In no way should you let nice incentives to get into the career let you decide that Schneider’s deals make that decision for you.

I’m not going to spend to much time on myself, but you are reading the words of an author that has exited the military, couldn’t find a job, went to trucking school, and then has driven off and on for 20 years. If I had it all to do over again, I would run from trucking as far as I could and not for the reasons you would think. By going trucking, you are putting everything else in life on hold. Education is very difficult to get while trucking. Family life is less than 2 days a week. The pay is stagnet and you’re going to perform many duties for free. No other career is going to ask so much for you in return for so little.

Don’t go trucking for the rosy outlook figures they give you. Yes there is always work, but if freight is slow, you’re barely making money, yet your still away from home. Read Sweatshops on Wheels: Winners and Losers in Trucking Deregulation to get an idea of what you’re going to be up against. There is nothing fair about trucking, even for Schneider National.

Trucking GPS Slowly Coming Down In Price

Trucking and GPS technology is finally start to come together. You would think that trucking would have been first priority, but the complexity of our GPS needs is far greater than most applications. Rand McNally has produced it’s Intelliroute TND 500 model for truckers.

 

Rand McNally Trucking GPS For Less than $500

The problem with GPS for trucking is that it cannot tell you what hazards specific to trucks exists. Truck bans on roads, low underpasses, construction that forbids truck traffic, etc. are constantly changing and to numerous to keep up with. Routing with GPS is flaky at best, even if you’re just driving a car. The extra miles a bad route adds to a trip is costly, so there is no way one can depend on a GPS alone for a truck’s trip planning.

Rand McNally is approaching the problem by utilizing it’s paper maps, a laptop, and a GPS. This is the method I’ve been using for years with a regular car gps. It is the only way to get a true reference about what is happening on the route. Many times, there isn’t enough time to work with my map program to get the route thoroughly checked and this is where you want the TND-500. It’s ability to link directly to the laptop is it’s largest asset. It also gives page reference numbers to the Rand McNally 2010 Motor Carriers Road Atlas (Rand Mcnally Motor Carriers’ Road Atlas).

There are also some trucking tools to make life easier and give you an upper hand on profitability. The are -

  • 35% more truck routing information than any other truck gps
  • Routes consider weigh stations, rest areas, truck stops and more
  • Automatic time zone calculation
  • Speakers designed to be heard over cab noise
  • Built in driver log and fuel tax calculations
  • Address book and specialized trucking calculator
  • Up to 10 stops allowed in a route
  • Unit contains everything you need with no further purchases required to operate efficiently.
  • Uses the same proprietary map information found in other Rand McNally products. If you familiar with their maps, you’ll be familiar with the symbols and other information on the GPS.

If your budget is tight and your current route procedures are good enough, the TND 500 isn’t going to be a life changing tool. If you are starting with nothing, this is the perfect start. If you want think that the tools are going to save you time and money, by all means, buy the TND 500.

CDL School Easier With Your Computer

CDL school consists of book training and driver training. CDL schools are notorious for under-training drivers, so you want to get all of the bookwork out of the way before you enter the school. The less time that you spend on the books, the more time that you can ask for road training and trucking simulator training.

Google is your friend here. Your first online search is for driver training. Public vocational training is much more affordable than the commercial schools. Search for vocational commercial truck training before you look into any other CDL School. If you can find none, search for companies that pay for your training. If you still have no CDL schools found, then you can looking into the commercial CDL schools that can work with you.

The next step is to find online CDL School training. You should find some for free, and some higher quality training for well under $100. These training sessions can get you well over your fears of test taking and you can start to memorize all of the facts needed to past the test. You will learn the general ideas that you can apply to all answers. With the paid online training, you can ask questions for some of the ideas that you may not understand. The most difficult parts of the written exams are the logbook training and the trick questions. CDL schools may not spend the required time to make sure that you get past any problem areas. If you go into class with questions ready on your problem areas, you can get those cleared up and move on.

You can also use a free Open Source quiz generator to create customized quizes on your problem areas. I strongly suggest using this method. The program is simple to use and you’ll save many hours of time.

Use your computer to ace the test frees you up for the skills that cannot be taught in a classroom. With the reduced stress and more time, you’re chances of succeeding increase.

Truck Bedding Can Be Dangerous, Protect Yourself

Truck mattresses are a nasty problem with company drivers. They move you from one truck to another and you are stuck with a nasty mattress from who knows how many drivers. There is no choice in the matter. You take the mattress and deal with it, buy another, or don’t sleep.

With sleep being a major factor in commercial trucking, it is wrong that companies put so little thought into the health and safety concerns with the mattress you are sleeping on.

I found a solution called Protect-A-Bed.

Protect-A-Bed Protection Banner 480x100

Healthy Sleep Zone Solutions can protect you and your mattress from -

  • Bed Bugs
  • Allergy Problems From Dirty Truck Mattresses
  • Bedding Health And Hygiene problems From A Previously Used Mattress
  • And Added Padding On The Mattress Improves Your Comfort

The pad can roll up and to be easily transported from truck to truck.

Protect-A-Bed is a fine company listed in the Better Business Bureau. Visit the website and improve your trucking sleep solution today!

Electronic Cigarettes - A healthier alternative to smoking cigarettes.

Electronic cigarettes are relatively new and they’ve taken off with all of the smoking bans. I will explain for those that haven’t heard of them.

The electronic cigarette can be “smoked” anywhere. It does not contain tobacco products, so all anti-smoking bans do not apply. Not on the docks, the breakrooms, the truck-stop restaurant, or anywhere.

The electronic cigarette contains nicotine. You get the nicotine amounts similar to what a cigarette would have. A cartridge contains the smoke solution, another contains a vaporizor, a third piece is a rechargable battery. When you put all 3 pieces together and inhale, a glowing indicator light on the end shows you that it’s working and a vapor very similar to cigarette smoke is inhaled. Less smoke appears as you exhale than a normal cigarette would create.

The vapors are mostly undetectable, and the small scent that is produced is pleasant.

You can check the Cigana website for more detailed information.

Cigana: You Don't Have to Quit

The company is not touting this as a method to stop smoking, but the cartridges are available in nicotine doses all the way down to zero. All electronic cigarette companies are having trouble with the FDA. It’s up to you decide if the FDA is afraid of electronic cigarettes working so well that they will reduce tax revenue from tobacco or if they are looking out for you. Remember our government’s history on tobacco support and decide.

The fun factor for truck drivers here is huge too. You know that the majority of the anti-smoking crowd is more against you enjoying your cigarette than they are their health. They’re going to go crazy over seeing a “smoker” and you’re going to be able to tell them where to stow it!

UPS Profits Down 49% - Serious Problems For All Of Us

This article explains that UPS profits are down 49% from last year. I find this very troubling and so do many others. This time last year, fuel was higher and eating into the profits more. This means that it’s even worse than it appears.

The reason every trucker should be concerned is that this is an indicator of what is going on in the overall shipping economy. If you’re on the fence considering if you should hang in there, news like this could push you on over that fence. This indicator alone may not tell all, but you can combine this with other indicators to help with your decision. For example, on the same day this news arrived, the DOW jumped higher.

The DOW shows how optimistic the business public is. Much of the investment money comes from business people,  so it it’s generally just a good enthusiasm indicator. Shipping companies are actually delivering goods that they are planning to sell in the future and it is a much stronger indicator of where the economy is headed.

With UPS taking care of very short timed orders, it’s not the best overall indicator, but 49% in losses is staggering. Can you imagine your business taking a loss like that? Of course you can if you are a trucker.

I would suggest to keep an eye on the other large trucking companies as well.

Ohio State Patrol Officer clocked on his personal motorcycle at 147 mph.

Ohio State Patrol Officer, Jason Highsmith and Gahanna Police Officer, Christopher Thomas clocked at 147 mph and 149 mph on Interstate 70 while racing their motorcycles. So far, it looks like they’ll get off with a hand slap. The charge has already been reduced to just speed and reckless operation for Highsmith.

According to sources that know Highsmith, this office is stereotypical Ohio State Highway Patrol. Arrogant, rude, and feels that his revenue cop status puts him above the law and everyone around him. He must be one dislikable son-of-gun for his own agency to site him, but the antics he was performing on Interstate 70 just east of Columbus, Ohio warranted action from his own.

Do a search on Google and you’re going to find enough different variations of the story to figure out what happened, at least enough to get the idea. 2 fast motorcycles were together clocked at 147 and 149. I would call that racing. The officer sighted them for the speed he clocked them at and that was all. He was letting them off the hook to some degree. Then, the judge added on the wreckless operation charge for Highsmith.

To top Highsmith’s stupidity, arrogance, and his feeling of superiority above the law, he’s pleaded not guilty. Not guilty! The very equipment that he uses to right tickets faulty or what? His own peers just out to get him? How could he possibly be not guilty?

Normally, I would say it’s wrong to want to see someone lose, but the Ohio State Highway Patrol sure has slapped a grin on me when they wrote tickets and watched me lose. No kidding, I got one for 56 in a 55 zone. The Ohio State Highway Patrolwoman was smiling the entire time, especially when she said, “We do take Visa and Mastercard!” Of course I don’t mind seeing them getting one of their own.

When I think of how many truck drivers this guy has most likely written tickets to just for revenue, I want to see him lose his job and get a taste of what that is like. I want him off the job for the safety of all of us too. Clearly, he does not have good judgement.

If a truck driver had performed these same antics, the job would be gone and he could not find another. Will Highsmith be considered more important than a truck driver?

Introducing americantrucks.com

I am happy to introduce americantrucks.com to I’d Rather Drive A Truck. This fine company offers excellent parts and high quality customer service for parts to customize and improve your Ford truck.

American Trucks Logo

Take a look at their truck parts website and you’ll see that it’s easy to navigate and informative about Ford truck parts. They offer virtually every custom part for Ford Trucks including

  • Wheels
  • Tonneau Covers
  • Bed Covers
  • Body Kits
  • Engine, Brake, & Suspension Parts
  • Interior & Exterior Styling Accessories
  • Lights
  • Gears
  • Tuners & Chips
  • … and more

This Malvern, PA based truck parts business doesn’t just offer the parts, they offer the customer service that you need to get the right parts and information needed to install them properly for the best look and performance. You can get the right parts ordered, delivered and ready to put on your Ford truck as soon as you get your next home time.