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2024 Trucking Industry Challenges: Freight Market

posted by TrueNorth Transportation on Thursday, March 14, 2024

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Every year, the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) conducts a survey on the transportation industry’s top concerns. ATRI is a non-profit organization whose primary mission is to conduct research with an emphasis on the industry’s essential role in a safe, efficient, and viable transportation system. Inspired by their annual survey of the industry’s top concerns, we wanted to see what challenges our clients and colleagues are anticipating in 2024.

Of the concerns expressed, the expectation from our audience is that retaining and recruiting drivers will be the biggest challenge – something companies have long struggled with. While our audience felt recruiting and retaining drivers will be the biggest challenge of the year, it will not be the only one. Compliance, cybersecurity, and the freight market are other critical factors we identified for trucking companies to consider as they continue to develop and improve their 2024 strategies.

We will dive into each of these topics through a four-part series, where we will address how these challenges impact trucking companies and share insights from experts at TrueNorth. Let's kick this series off by discussing the freight market.

Freight Market

The state of the freight market influences key aspects of business such as the number of loads carriers can obtain and the rate at which they will get paid for those loads; both of which are contributing factors to the overall profitability of a business. When there are more carriers available than the demand from shippers, prices fall (soft market); inversely, when demand from shippers is higher than the amount of carriers, prices increase (tight market).

Throughout 2023, the industry faced a tough freight market caused by a decrease in retail demand and inflation, among other causes. The year closed out with a 15.7% decrease in shipment volume compared to the 4th quarter of the previous year, resulting in numerous carrier bankruptcies.

With many experts offering differing opinions on what will happen this year, it is seemingly impossible to know which predictions to follow and what direction we can expect the market to go. While some believe we can expect to see a healthy recovery in the market this year, others believe the improvement will only be incremental. Ultimately, there is no consensus agreed on by experts that can be accepted to plan around. Instead, companies must plan for an uncertain market and prepare for those various possibilities.

Navigating the uncertainties of the freight market demands more than just awareness – it requires tailored strategies to safeguard operations and assets. In an unpredictable market, TrueNorth’s approach is to continue supporting our clients by protecting and maximizing their assets. We actively engage with trucking companies, offering personalized risk assessments, tailored insurance solutions, and real-time insights. Our strategic partnerships provide access to valuable market intelligence, while our educational resources empower clients with the skills to implement effective risk management strategies.

Stay Tuned

Stay tuned for the next installment of our 2024 Trucking Challenges series where we will look at Compliance in 2024, including expert insight and what regulations to keep an eye on. Here’s a sneak peek:

Austin Doyle, Safety and Loss Control Specialist at TrueNorth, shares his thoughts on another compliance challenge motor carriers will face this year - rising Maintenance Scores. Doyle advises, “There are not enough technicians to keep trucks moving legally. It will be on drivers to make sure they are doing very thorough and proper pre-trips every day on their equipment.”

Get in touch with the TrueNorth team today.


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TrueNorth has more than 120 dedicated transportation staff, with deep specialization to each facet in the industry. Our solutions beyond the insurance policy help transportation companies reduce risk in new, innovative ways. Learn more about the solutions we offer here or call us at (800) 798-4080.

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