FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index rises in September

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FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index released Wednesday, Nov. 2, spiked 3.1 points in September to a reading of 9.2 but remains well below its recent peak of 13.3 achieved in March. FTR says tight capacity control, modest growth in truck tonnage and falling fuel prices helped improve the trucking environment through September.

The Trucking Conditions Index is a compilation of factors affecting trucking companies and has remained in positive territory for the past eight months. Any reading above 0 indicates an adequate trucking environment, with readings above 10 a sign that volumes, prices and margin are in a good range for trucking companies.

“With regard to future trucking conditions, the major wild card will be when and if new federal trucking regulations, most particularly the hours-of-service revision, get implemented,” says Larry Gross, FTR senior consultant. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recently announced a further delay in its schedule for issuing the new rule.

“When it finally does come out, the odds are that one or the other side of the debate will file suit,” Gross says. “Then the question will be whether an injunction is issued staying implementation of the new rule.”

Gross says the current muted economic growth, if continued, should be enough to allow the TCI to continue to increase slowly from current levels. “But if FMSCA is in fact successful in implementing new, tighter HOS regulations, this will drive the TCI significantly higher in the second half of next year,” he says.