FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index (TCI) reading of 9.18 in October, while down marginally from the previous month, remains high due to capacity tightness from regulatory drag (Hours of Service).

Truck utilization is in the range where increasing capacity constraints put upward pressure on rates. Slowing regulatory momentum would ease this situation, but, if increased economic growth is realized in 2014, it will further increase shipping rates and add to a positive trucking bottom line. The details of the October TCI Index are found in the December issue of the Trucking Update published November 26. Notes by the Dashboard Light commentary discuss the possibility of acceleration in economic growth next year which would impact trucking if it materializes.

Jonathan Starks, FTR's Director of Transportation Analysis, commented, "While the total truck industry is showing solid freight growth, the highly visible dry van sector has been relatively stagnant for most of 2013. However, as cost increases continue to move higher, especially following the implementation of new HOS regulations this summer, we look for rates to follow suit. They began moving up during Q3 but not sufficiently enough to make up for the increased costs, and carriers’ margins deteriorated. The increased public rhetoric from fleet executives about this issue is setting up the scene for continued rate movement into 2014."

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. As part of the Trucking Update, FTR forecasts expected trends in this data and the probable short and long term consequences. For more information on how to subscribe to the Trucking Update or other publications within the Freight Focus Series, send an email to sales@ftrintel.com or call (888) 988-1699 ext. 1.