Graves: Still room for capacity growth

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Bill Graves, president and chief executive officer of the American Trucking Associations, was the featured speaker during the opening session of HDAW 2012 at The Mirage in Las Vegas on Tuesday, Jan 24. Graves detailed the slow growth the U.S. economy is showing since the recession of the last decade and the positive effect that growth is showing in the trucking industry.

Graves and the ATA believe there is room for growth toward capacity for current trucking fleets, and predict a rising total of freight tonnage and new Class 8 truck sales in 2012 and 2013. Graves also expects a slight increase in housing starts in the coming years, which also should increase freight numbers.

In spite of this growth, Graves also expects unemployment rates to remain high and driver turnover to grow as the economy recovers. Driver turnover consistently was above 100 percent during the early years of the 2000s before falling and bottoming out at 39 percent later in the decade.

Graves also expects more discussion in Washington and the trucking industry about the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s hours-of-service final rule and Compliance Safety Accountability regulations. He believes the federal government needs to address its proposal to improve infrastructure and roads and bridges by March, or he fears the topic will be scrapped through the November elections.

In concluding his discussion, Graves cautioned the problems of the government extending the 2009 highway bill. “Congress is allocating spending faster than resources are being provided,” he said, adding that he fears expenditures for the highway bill soon will surpass revenue.