Freight Rates Soar for Small-Business Truckers in January

It’s a big turnaround from recent years when there wasn’t enough freight demand to fill up all the nation’s trucks and drivers struggled to get attractive rates. This year will be the best for the trucking industry since 2005, said David Ross, an analyst at Stifel Financial Corp. “There are real serious constraints on capacity – mainly a lack of sufficient amounts of qualified drivers – that should drive trucking rates much higher as we move through the year.” “The rates are the best I’ve seen in several years,” Jim Kienbaum, an independent refrigerated truck driver from White Water, Wis., told Both were about double previous rates.

Rates “were astronomical coming out of Arizona last week,” he said. and inclement weather has pushed the need for more for trucking services, bumping up rates significantly from a year earlier, said Mark Montague, an analyst at DAT Solutions, which tracks freight and rates. Rates for the week of Jan. Rates for refrigerated freight remained unchanged at $2.70. Freight rates still remain higher than at any time in 2017, according to DAT. Freight rates should remain high throughout the year, despite a possible dip because of less freight in February and March, before spring rates surge, Montague said. attributes the surge in rates partially to the ELD mandate, which took effect Dec. get more involved in being proactive to solve these issues like reducing wait times, better communication with carriers so trucking operations become smoother and more efficient,” Montague said.

Shippers expect rates to continue to climb because there are not enough trucks or drivers to handle freight demand, according to the analysts at Stifel. “We are seeing some really crazy high rates right now,” said Linda Caffee, who is half of a driver team with her husband, Bob, of Silex, Mo. “The freight is there and the rates are there.” Last year was the best year the Caffees have experienced in their 13 years as owner-operators.

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