Overdrive Magazine

April 2018

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PULSE April 2018 | Overdrive | 5 The drumbeat of how great the market's looking for trucking, which started in the second half of 2017, is getting even louder. To cite but one statis- tic, Truckstop.com's Market Demand Index, measuring the ratio of available loads to available trucks, hit 51 during mid-March, said Todd Amen, president of nancial serices provider ATBS. Historically, "When we're above 12, things are really good for truckers," Amen said during his owner-operator benchmarking update. "There's a huge amount of freight looking to be moved, and there's just not enough trucks to haul it." Amen touched on three interesting points tied to the good news. One is fortuitous timing. The strong freight market still hadn't peaked as the electronic logging device mandate took eect ec. and with it the predicted productivity losses due to the rigid- ity of ELDs' hours accounting. That means a silver lining for truckers: "If rates are up 30 to percent it more than osets my ability to run miles," Amen said. Another observation is "counterintui- tive." Even though it's an excellent time for owner-operators to pile up miles, many will cut back, predicted Amen, who's witnessed this before. "When drivers start making more money what they really want is time o he said. "They want to spend Saturday watching their kid play football, or they want to spend a day outside of the truck." A third point concerns greener grass. Amen showed a chart detailing how in most years since 2009 the gap has grown between spotmarket rates and rates oered to leased owner-operators in a per-mile pay structure. y ecember the permile dierential was cents. "That meant that I could run for the aerage eet for . or . or I could go run in the spot market for close to . . he said. Amen shared the above tweet by Tucker Company orldwide C e uck- er that shows since 2012, ambitious owner-operators have been actively getting their authority and in many cases adding trucks. It's a good path for those who understand the demands and skills required to run independently. Others, perhaps, need to focus on the potential advantages of running leased. Whether or not the current freight demand con- tinues through at least mid-2019, as Amen predicted, it's a certain- ty that any hot market eventually cools o. hen that day comes the stability that comes with a good relationship with a good eet and the relatie simplicity of a leased operation, might prove to be worth more than the short-term gain of riding herd on a bull market. That sparkling emerald grass catching your eye? Weigh your strengths, weaknesses and long-term goals before making a drastic change in your operation. Greener grass mheine@randallreilly.com By Max Heine Editorial director every truck they come across, but warned: "Last I read, the safety checks yielded a lot of brake [out-of-service orders], which is something inspections by drivers should catch." If drivers and carriers don't get serious about such serious equipment issues, expect the law enforcement inspection headaches to continue. Epling Transportation owner Lee Epling did use the DataQs system to challenge Whittington's erroneous ELD violation, getting it removed from the carrier's CSA SMS prole. eorgia's response to the ata though atout contradicted Whittington's contention that he told the ocer his engine was exempt. Epling reacted strongly to the state essentially calling Whittington a liar. He's "one of the most brutally honest men I have ever had the pleasure to work with," Epling says. "I cannot believe for one second that my driver, after putting an ELD-exempt engine in that truck for the express purpose of being exempt from the mandate, would not inform the trooper at the time of a road- side inspection that the truck he was driving was exempt from the mandate." "I'm 53 years old," Whit- tington says. "I've never had an accident as long as I've been driving." Inspectors are "just so prone to writing up guys, they're putting people out of work" whether they realize it or not. "It's funny that it's gotten to this extreme. If they keep lean- ing on drivers as hard as they are, I don't know who's going to haul the freight."

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