Infrastructure bill inked into law
President Joe Biden on Monday signed into law the $1.2 trillion infrastructure spending package that Congress finalized and passed earlier this month.
For transportation and logistics, in addition to devoting tens of billions to repairing existing infrastructure like roads and bridges and building new projects, the infrastructure package implements a few policy and regulatory changes, too, including allowing CDL holders under the age of 21 to drive interstate, mandating automated braking on new commercial vehicles, and beefing up standards for rear underride guards.
FleetOwner and Heavy-Duty Trucking each explored what the bill means for the trucking industry, and some analysts contend the bill could quell future supply chain crises like the one snaring the economy today.
Fleets get creative in steering around constraints for parts and capacity
Trucking fleets increasingly are at the whims of the supply chain crisis, too, and many are stuck trying to find ways to grow their capacity to meet demand. Orders for new trucks are severely delayed due to parts shortages, and carriers say they’re struggling to find enough drivers to fill existing needs.
But those same parts shortages are limiting fleets’ ability to maintain current equipment, and maintenance managers are getting creative. Fleets are turning to eBay and small rural shops to source parts for repairs and truck upkeep, as well as cannibalizing their own rigs for parts.
Also, limited availability of new trucks has caused used truck prices to skyrocket. In October, compared to the same month in 2020, used truck prices on average were 67% higher, reports TPS. Year to date, used prices are up 48% on average, and the trend is expected to continue into 2022 due to supply constraints.
Fleets are also finding creative ways to pay drivers beyond simple per-mile pay as a recruiting and retention tactic. Although certain productivity awards sound appealing, there are pitfalls to watch for.
Trucking rates drive a wave of new carriers
Those capacity constraints are doing more than forcing fleets to get creative with maintenance and driver pay — they’re also driving up per-mile trucking rates, especially with the huge surge in consumer demand for hard goods.
And those surging rates have prompted a swell of new carriers to enter the market, most of them very small fleets and owner-operators.
According to federal data, some 82,000 new motor carriers have been granted authority this year by the U.S. Department of Transportation through October. That’s almost as many as 2020 and 2019 combined — and it’s just through the first 10 months of the year.
Analysts say the new entrant carriers are likely founded by those who transitioned from being leased-operators or employee drivers at fleets, meaning trucking capacity is shifting, rather than growing, as the numbers might suggest.