Welcome to the WHAT THE TRUCK?!? Newsletter presented by Transfix. In this issue, ATA claims turnover is good for drivers; what’s up with Back The Truck Up; spot goes down the ski slope; a Pennsylvania bathroom bill; and more.
Triple black diamond
Getting steeper — Ever since the Winter Olympics ended in February, the dry van spot market has been the most challenging ski slope out there. National dry van rates inclusive of fuel took a 13 cent nosedive this week, accelerating the pace of the market’s decline.
Cass reports slowdown — FreightWaves founder and CEO Craig Fuller has been making the case for a trucking freight recession for several weeks now. The latest Cass Index is starting to highlight some of that weakness as well. “While a few points of softness in Q1 were due to omicron-related absenteeism, freight was slowing even before the war in Ukraine began,” ACT Research’s Tim Denoyer commented in the report. While Cass won’t go as far to call it a market recession, it does point to higher energy costs and increased labor as some of the reasons behind the market softening.
Want to learn more about trucking boom and bust cycles? Check out this article.
Is driver turnover ‘empowering’?
The ATA’s point — Is driver turnover really a sign of opportunity? That’s what the American Trucking Associations argues in its article, “The truth about trucking turnover.” According to the ATA, “In many respects, high turnover is an indicator of driver empowerment.” Criticism about industry issues like pay, home time, poor equipment, parking, quality of life, and treatment are brushed aside as being from “bureaucrats, essayists and other cultural commentators — most of who have no real-world experience in trucking.” The issue with that? All of those are issues that drivers themselves have identified as problems with retention.
OOIDA’s counterpunch — OOIDA clapped back at the ATA’s message with its article, “The ATA says driver churn is good for you.” John Bendel writes, “To a sorry degree, driver churn is a measure of unhappiness. Churn is less an indicator of driver empowerment than it is of driver desperation.” Professional driver and Back The Truck Up writer James “Rooster” Bowen says, “What does the carrier provide to keep the drivers in the seat? Pay raises are barely visible on pay stubs.” I think Michael Ritzmea, Superior Trucking Payroll Services’ president, identified the biggest issue with the ATA’s article: It completely absolves trucking companies for the way they treat the driver.
As another driver told me, “That take is appalling.” What’s worse, like with the “80,000-driver shortage” number the ATA put out there, there will be plenty of journalists who won’t challenge its claims.
Back The Truck Up is coming!
What is it? — Back The Truck Up is a freight culture site by truckers and industry veterans covering the latest news, players and viral trends of the industry with blogs, podcasts and videos.
Who is it? — We’ve put together an incredible team to launch this new FreightWaves media venture. On our staff are truckers/content creators Ingrid Brown, James “Rooster” Bowen and James Martin. In addition, Michael “The Dude” Vincent and I will be bringing WTT and our unique sensibilities to the site. Catch Friday’s WTT to meet the whole squad.
Where is it? — Some of the socials have already been activated here: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and TikTok, and the website will be live in the very, very near future.
Catch new shows live at noon EDT Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays on FreightWavesTV, FreightWaves LinkedIn and Facebook or on demand by looking up WHAT THE TRUCK?!? on your favorite podcast player.
New bill could turn PA into Peesylvania
HB2465 — Rep. Jason Silvis, who is a CDL holder, has introduced the Truck Driver Restroom Access Act. CDLLife reports that the bill “would require retail establishments, shippers, receivers and port terminals to give truck drivers access to their restrooms when delivering or picking up goods during regular business hours. This requirement would be enforced by the Department of Health, which shall issue a written notice upon an initial violation, followed by a $300 fine for subsequent violations.” This follows a similar bill in Washington state. Could we start seeing a trend among other states?
Nikolas, in my Chattanooga? It’s more likely than you think
Rolling down the street — We’ve given Nikola a lot of grief over the past couple of years on WTT, but when the opportunity came up to go check one out here in town, we had to take a look. The Dude and I are heading over there tomorrow to see what’s up with these new Nikola Tres. We’ll take some video and give you our honest impressions next week.
Now on demand
Will a stalling spot market hit enterprise fleets?
A meme come true
Why don’t carriers do a better job of advocating for drivers’ time?
Trucking’s eternal question — I asked industry vet Dave Ables why that’s the case. Here’s what he had to say.
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