Wednesday, June 3, 2009

No rose-colored glasses in trucking

There seems to be a disconnect among a number of fortunate folks regarding the state of the economy, one that probably most truckers and trucking executives don’t share.

The disconnect is phrased like this: “We see planes full, lots of people at restaurants, parking lot at Wal-Mart full … and tons of trucks on the road.”

Sadly, these perceptions are like a David Copperfield illusion – you think you see it, but it’s not really that way. Planes are full because airlines are flying fewer and smaller craft. People are eating out but spending less (and restaurants are ditching those mammoth servings that often go wasted – which may help our national waistline!).

Wal-Mart and other discounters are doing well because of low prices. Sorry, that’s because so much of their stuff comes from Asia. And this week, according to info volunteered by ATA’s member carriers, truck freight tonnage is down 13.2 percent from April 2008 – the lowest tonnage in seven-and-a-half years.

Trucking news has been full of bankruptcies, failures and firms seeking stimulus money to keep rolling. Even allowing for some slack and fat to be taken out, we’re down to the muscle, bone and gristle of the freight business. Folks who dine out, shop and fly on airplanes should really be thanking the truckers who are holding on in order to deliver food, merchandise and jet fuel.

The going is tough, and the tough are still going.


  1. And we're doing it on the worst highway infrastructure since the roads were gravel! Even with top notch trucks, we endure an unbelievable beating while we're driving or TRYING to sleep. And now you report that the Highway Trust Fund is almost broke. I know where they will look to find the funding!! Trucks! My heart is just sick. Why would anyone want to become a trucker. It may seem to be a great job but wait til they check out this side of those rose colored glasses. How sad.

  2. If you think its bad for truckers now, just wait until the cross border program restarts again in a much larger scale. I fear it will drive out many more drivers. Like Beth said,"how Sad".

  3. Everywhere I look around here in the Flint Mi area the last few weeks in the Flint MI area I see a lot of O/O trucks parked ..more then I can remember..a sign that this economy is still tanking. I hear of company drivers running a load, then sitting in truck stops for a couple days at a time, along with companies that are still adding drivers at cheap per mile pay not wanting the drivers to run by the house more than every 2-4 weeks. Looks like we are right back to where the blood suckers are feasting on drivers wanting to have a decent pay,job and normal life, and treating us like 2nd class humans.


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