Truck tonnage continued to fall in April

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Updated May 24, 2024

Trucking news and briefs for Thursday, May 23, 2024:

Truck tonnage declined in April

ATA Truck Tonnage Index April 2024ATA's Truck Tonnage Index declined 1.2% in April, following a 2.2% decrease in March.ATA

The amount of freight hauled by trucks continued to decline in April, signifying a continuing soft freight market.

The American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index declined 1.2% in April after decreasing 2.2% in March. In April, the index equaled 111.7 (2015=100) compared with 113.1 in March.

“The truck freight market remained soft in April as seasonally-adjusted volumes fell for the second straight month,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. â€śWith a rebound in freight remaining elusive, it is likely that additional capacity will leave the industry in the face of continued softness in the market.”

Compared with April 2023, the index fell 1.5%, which was the 14th straight year-over-year decline. In March, the index was down 1.3% from a year earlier. 

The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 112.2 in April, 1.7% below March. ATA’s For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index is dominated by contract freight as opposed to spot market freight. 

[Related: Fleets’ earnings reveal market keeps getting weaker]

Covenant seeks waiver to allow pre-CDL drivers to drive without CDL holder in passenger seat

Covenant Transport (CCJ Top 250, No. 43) and Landair Transport, jointly doing business as Covenant Logistics, are petitioning the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for a waiver to allow pre-CDL drivers to operate without a CDL holder in the passenger seat.

The exemption, if granted, would allow Covenant Logistics to employ a driver to haul freight immediately after he or she passes their CDL skills test and while their CDL documentation is being processed by their state of domicile. Covenant’s petition states that it recruits and develops driver candidates with good safety records who have graduated from established driver training schools.

It hires approximately 1,200 new drivers each year through driver training schools and estimates that approximately 2,000 drivers annually would operate CMVs under the requested exemption.

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The company said that prior to the implementation of 49 CFR 383.25(a)(1), states routinely issued temporary CDLs, valid only in the state of domicile, to drivers who had successfully passed a CDL skills test. This process made it possible for Covenant to immediately designate a new driver as on duty, and direct that driver to their state of domicile without entering a second driver into an on-duty status.

Covenant sait it is currently not able to employ a new driver until the driver’s home state issues a CDL, and the company must choose either to wait for the driver to obtain the CDL physical credential from their home state before starting on-duty freight operations or send the driver home in an unproductive non-driving capacity.

Covenant said this results in supply chain inefficiency and a lost employment opportunity for the new driver.  States may take weeks to properly document and update the status of a new driver’s CDL after they have passed the CDL skills test, and Covenant is not able to employ the driver during this time without having a second driver in the front seat of the CMV. This administrative waiting period has caused a significant burden on Covenant’s operations, the company said.

FMCSA will accept public comments on the request here through June 24.

[Related: CRST gets pre-CDL team driving waiver renewed]

Estes opens former Yellow terminal in south Florida

Estes Express Lines (CCJ Top 250, No. 10) announced via LinkedIn that it has opened a former Yellow terminal in Boynton Beach, Florida.

Led by Terminal Manager Schawn Bittner, the new Estes terminal has 36 doors, 12,120 square feet of dock space, and 2,880 square feet of office space on a nearly six-acre site.

The site, near I-95 and Route 1, will handle freight previously served through the company’s Miami and West Palm Beach locations.

[Related: Estes Express begins reopening of former Yellow terminals]