FMCSA Deputy Administrator Meera Joshi met with trucking groups in the Midwest last week to discuss challenges in the industry.Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Deputy Administrator Meera Joshi last week met with several transportation organizations in the Midwest as part of efforts to strengthen commercial vehicle safety, bolster truck driver availability, and improve rail-to-truck supply chain efficiencies. The meetings were part of efforts by the Biden Administration to address supply chain disruptions.

Truck driver retention and recruitment have been a focus of the White House Task Force on Supply Chain Disruptions. The core reason for America’s truck driver capacity issue is the ”startlingly low retention of current drivers,” according to a statement from the FMCSA.

“Truck drivers are essential professionals who have been working on the front lines of this pandemic,” Joshi said. “It’s hard to overstate the critical nature of trucking to the wellbeing of our nation. Truck driving is a vital segment of the supply chain, and our focus is on continually enhancing workplace practices while improving efficiencies including decreasing driver detention time while ensuring the highest level of safety possible for every roadway traveler.”

During her Midwest trip, Joshi met with representatives of the Illinois Farm Bureau Association, the Illinois Trucking Association, Union Pacific Railroad’s Global IV Intermodal Terminal, and at a United Parcel Service driver training facility.

A statement from the FMCSA said discussions covered a broad range of strategies to improve supply chain movement and roadway safety including:

  • Streamlining the transport of fuel to farm equipment
  • Beneficial updates to electronic logging devices
  • Replicating proven driver training and retention models
  • Ways to improve rail-to-truck intermodal chassis maintenance and chassis availability

ACT: Volumes, rates, capacity improved in September

ACT Research reports that rates increased in September after a drop-off in August.The latest release of ACT’s For-Hire Trucking Index, with September data, showed an increase in volumes, pricing, and capacity, with a lower but still-strong supply-demand balance.

While the volume index improved, ACT Research Vice President and Senior Analyst Tim Denoyer said it is still “considerably below the 65.5 average of the past 12 months, due in large part to supply chain bottlenecks. In particular, chip and part shortages are hindering vehicle production, though peak holiday shipping is continuing to provide demand support.”

Denoyer added that the tight trucking market, coupled with the proposed vaccine mandate potentially impacting recruiting and equipment production challenges, the possibility for record rate increases is high.

“However, the driver response to higher pay rates is ongoing, and we ultimately expect little impact of employer vaccine mandates in trucking, where about 80% of capacity is in fleets under 100 employees,” he said. “Equipment supply-chain constraints also continue to limit capacity growth, and hiring and retention of new drivers will be key to the rate trajectory.”

ATA’s TMC again studying smart reefer products

The American Trucking Associations’ Technology & Maintenance Council last week announced the start of its second study on the use and adoption of intelligence products and services in the refrigerated transportation sector.

This is the second survey report TMC and eSMARTT have collaborated on, the first was released June 30 and centered on the trailer rental and lease market.

The first report identified refrigerated carriers as early adopters of technology driven by the need to track temperatures and the high cost of failures. The final report for refrigerated carriers will be available for the spring, annual TMC meeting in Orlando.

“Everyone wants to know that their food and medicines are safe and effective at the time and point of use” said TMC Executive Director Robert Braswell, “and this research will show how leading carriers are using technology to ensure safe and efficient deliveries.”

Target Freight Management opens new Florida location

Transportation management system provider Target Freight Management is opening a new office in Tampa Bay, Florida.

The addition of the Tampa office brings Target Freight to six locations nationwide, headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and with operations in Florida, Iowa, New York, North Carolina and Texas. TFM’s Tampa office also includes space for future expansion.

TFM’s new Tampa Bay employees will augment the company’s real-time freight logistics, sales, and customer service efforts.

With shipping costs and turnaround times for most U.S. freight on the rise due to a worldwide supply chain slowdown that largely stems from the COVID–19 pandemic, TFM’s Tampa Bay team will focus on finding new transportation solutions for shippers whose freight may be moving slowly through backlogged and understaffed U.S. ports.