Trends and Priorities: Length of Haul

LengthofHaulFeatureTo help operators stay current, The NATSO Show Advisory council tapped a number of trucking industry experts and truckstop operators to speak during The NATSO Show 2013 in Savannah, Ga. The experts said everything from driver health concerns and hours-of-service regulations to increased fuel efficiency and changes in the length of haul are changing the way they operate.

Below is a synopsis of one of the issues covered provided by Mindy Long.

Length of Haul

The average length of haul for carriers is changing, which is also shifting drivers’ needs. “The average length of haul used to be 750 miles, now it is 500 miles and all of you make money from selling fuel to those people,” said Bob Costello, chief economist at American Trucking Associations during his keynote presentation at The NATSO Show.

Costello said that shorter lengths of haul means that most freight will not be converted to the railroad despite the railroads’ efforts to gain market share. “Trucks and trains compete on a very, very limited basis. Truck freight is not going to be converted to the railroads if it doesn’t go at least 500 miles and there are people out there who say it needs to go closer to 750,” Costello said.

For truckstop operators, Costello said one of the most important figures to look at is the number of miles being driven. “Miles driven by large truckloads were down in 2012. I think that will pick up as the economy picks up,” he said.

Operators looking to benchmark their sales against the trucking industry should look at non-seasonally adjusted data, Costello said. “The data reported is seasonally adjusted and takes into account weather, increased factory production, harvests, back-to-school sales… However, it is harder to benchmark against that because I’m talking about seasonally. You need to look at the non-seasonally adjusted data…and the trucking industry’s miles,” Costello said, adding that he releases those figures along with the seasonally adjusted data.

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