FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index (TCI) for January as reported in the March 2013 Trucking Update jumped 2.2 points from the previous month to a new reading of 10.6. The upward trend in the TCI reflects improved freight growth and expectation for tighter capacity and is forecast to continue at a high level as unprecedented regulations affecting trucking utilization go into effect starting in mid-2013.

Conditions through 2014 will remain in strongly positive territory with trucking companies’ ability to raise rates in a tight capacity environment a likely scenario. The Trucking Conditions Index is a compilation of factors affecting trucking companies. Any reading above zero indicates a positive environment for truckers. Readings above 10 signal that volumes, prices, and margins are likely to be in a solidly favorable range for trucking companies.

Jonathan Starks, director of transportation analysis for FTR, commented, “While the sequester is now in effect, we have seen enough indications of an improving economy to expect a growing freight market in 2013. As regulators impose the changes to Hours of Service rules in July capacity will further tighten to levels not seen since 2004. Eventually, carriers will have the ability to raise rates but their costs, especially in driver pay, will increase as well.”

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. March’s Notes by the Dashboard Light commentary explores the latest political stalemate involving U.S. fiscal negotiations. For more information on how to subscribe to the Trucking Update or other publications within the Freight Focus Series, send an email to cdavis@ftrassociates.com or call Clay Davis at 1-888-988-1699, Ext. 1.