The Truck Tonnage Index fell 3.3 percent in March, the American Trucking Associations reported.
The index dropped to 111.3, or 0.4 percent lower than a year earlier, the first year-over-year decrease since November 2001. This follows a revised 2.9 percent decline in February 2005.
Tonnage volumes dipped because the economy was weighed down by slower consumer spending and higher energy costs, said Bob Costello, ATA chief economist.
“This is no time for panic,” Costello said. “We anticipated there would be a slowdown because the economy isn’t growing as robustly. It would be difficult for freight volumes to grow significantly faster than the economy.”
Costello predicted the tonnage would grow 3 percent to 3.5 percent this year. “Our projected growth for this year will translate into solid expansion for the industry,” Costello said.
Trucking represents nearly 70 percent of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods.
Trucks hauled 9.1 billion tons of freight in 2003. Motor carriers collected $610 billion dollars, or 86.9 percent of total revenues earned by all transport modes.