Shippers are scrambling for trucking capacity at nearly any price. As 2022’s first quarter comes to a close, demand for trucking services of all types—full truckload, less than truckload (LTL), and last mile—continues to race ahead, with capacity struggling to catch up, if at all. Rates are on the rise, a function of too much freight competing for too few trucks. And then there are increasing costs for fuel, driver pay, regulatory mandates, increasingly expensive equipment, and other rising operating expenses.
To a person, trucking executives and industry analysts interviewed for this story don’t see any letup in the tight market—and its challenges—with some expecting current market conditions to extend into 2023. The primary issues: a worsening driver shortage, continued port congestion and supply chain hiccups, and the inability of tractor and trailer manufacturers to meet demand for new units.