Transportation Services Index: Health Of The Trucking Industry

Topic 8614 | Page 1

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Brett Aquila's Comment
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Quote from the DOT website:

The Transportation Services Index (TSI), created by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), measures the movement of freight and passengers.

I've removed the passenger part from the equation. Here is the graph showing the amount of freight being moved by trucks on U.S. highways:

Transportation Services Index Chart For March 2015

Of interest to me is two key points:

1) This chart really demonstrates just how devastating the economic meltdown of 2008 was for our economy. It was a very long, steep slide and it took almost three years to get back to where we were.

2) The trend looks great and let's hope it continues! Nothing but up, up, up!

Anytime you'd like to see this information you can find it at the DOT Transportation Services Index Page

Now compare that chart to the chart of truck driver pay:

Truck Driver Pay Adjusted For Inflation

Chart of truck driver pay adjusted for inflation

So the amount of freight keeps increasing, but the pay over time does not unfortunately


Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.


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Scott M's Comment
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UNIT- I'm thinking the numbers on the left side are billions of tons of freight? Million might be too small?

I just talked to my Prime recruiter, Springfield Mo- I said it looks like there is a tremendous demand for drivers- he said that Prime needs drivers- today they're missing out on 1000 loads/day

Brett Aquila's Comment
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I'm thinking the numbers on the left side are billions of tons of freight?

Actually the year 2000 equates to 100 on the left side of the chart. So all of this is relative to the benchmark of 100 set in the year 2000.

Darren R.'s Comment
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I'd say there is high demand for drivers.. I start my CDL course on Monday, May 18th, but I've already been talking to national and local companies. As of right now I have 4 locals and 6 national applications, and all of these are chomping at the bit to have me turn in my ap, even before I get my CDL. 2 of the national companies are offering tuition bonus to pay for my school since the course I'm taking is 300 hours.. the limit for these bonus's, I'm finding out, is the class has to be at least 160 hours before companies will offer tuition reimbursements.. and thank god this site has spell check!


Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.
Hudsonhawk's Comment
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Everywhere u look there's a huge demand for drivers. It's one of many reasons I'm going down this road at 29.

Suffice it to say my plans of being a world traveler revolve around trucking. I work in the organic good distribution business as a analyst. E.g. cubicle dweller.

But from what I see these semi-new industries are growing and there is no end in sight. With these industries and markets there is going to be a huge need for drivers.

Solar power, green energy, organic food, they all need people moving their products.

I hope I can truck without a residence for a year or two and take some time off and go explore Europe. Then when I'm broke or bust I can come back and walk into a position.

I know a few people who already do it. They work hard for a year or two then go travel. Come back to the states for not even a week and already have a position lined up.

Sounds like a no brained to me. Spent my 20's in Iraq, now I can spend my 30's abroad in more civilized countries. See the world, see the country I fought for (a huge plus), and work hard. I'm not sure if anyone knows it but veterans are programmed to accomplish missions and work hard. I just hope that the current global peace/prosperity trend continues.

Come on 2017 Kathmandu and Nepal, I know I can make it. Thanks for the chart Brett, it reinforces my thoughts and keeps it on a positive note. So tired of the negative trucker complaints online.


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Kevin W.'s Comment
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I find it interesting that driver pay had a peak in 2009. That peak occurred at about the same time that freight hit its low point on the first chart. That has me wondering. It seems that more freight does not mean more pay, it seems may be more of an inverse relationship. Then again it could be a coincidence with outside factors playing a part.

I would have expected the drivers to be averaging less pay when there was low freight volume in 2009. Did a lot of drivers leave the industry during that time?

I am also wondering if the trend of using per diem is affecting driver pay. Driver pay has clearly been declining. Is overall driver compensation down relative to inflation, or are there factors like per diem having a substantial affect on the numbers? Are electronic logs playing a part in lowing average driver pay? Is enforcement limiting the miles a diver can average, and therefore lowing pay?

Brett's graphs present more questions than answers for me.

Electronic Logs:

Electronic Onboard Recorder

Electronic Logbook

A device which records the amount of time a vehicle has been driven. If the vehicle is not being driven, the operator will manually input whether or not he/she is on duty or not.

Per Diem:

Getting paid per diem means getting a portion of your salary paid to you without taxes taken out. It's technically classified as a meal and expense reimbursement.

Truck drivers and others who travel for a living get large tax deductions for meal expenses. The Government set up per diem pay as a way to reimburse some of the taxes you pay with each paycheck instead of making you wait until tax filing season.

Getting per diem pay means a driver will get a larger paycheck each week but a smaller tax return at tax time.

We have a ton of information on our wiki page on per diem pay


Operating While Intoxicated

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