626661 Mike Nettleship | Dreamstime
Dreamstime M 626661

Trucking index falls mostly on diesel price gains

July 21, 2022
The FTR Transportation Intelligence measure of market conditions returns to negative territory in May after an April surge as fuel, which still is hovering in record territory, remains the industry X-factor.

The Trucking Conditions Index (TCI) by FTR Transportation Intelligence fell back into negative territory in May after a surge for the month of April as historically high prices for diesel fuel continue to weigh down an industry that, according to a leading FTR researcher, otherwise shows signs of health through inflationary times.

The FTR reading for May was -0.3, a sharp decline from the TCI of 3.21 in April. Sharp increases in diesel prices in May offset slightly improved freight market conditions for carriers, according to a July 20 release from the industry research firm.

See also: Diesel prices fall for fourth straight week

Freight demand, capacity utilization, and freight rates were slightly stronger in May but together were unable to diminish the negative impact of record prices for trucking’s main fuel during the month. FTR sees conditions continuing close to neutral territory with TCI readings in either low positive or low negative figures from month to month, according to the FTR release.

“Upward pressures on trucking conditions are largely history at this point. The question now is how high and strong of a floor remains,” said Avery Vise, FTR’s VP of trucking. “Employment data from recent months suggest that drivers are readily available for larger carriers, although much of that growth surely is coming at the expense of very small carriers that are failing due to record diesel prices—at least until recent weeks—and normalizing spot rates.”

Vise added: “Meanwhile, despite soaring inflation and other worries, consumer spending and industrial production have remained surprisingly healthy. Driver capacity has faded as a wild card as the resilience of freight demand has taken its place.”

See also: FTR analysts talk inflation, AB5, shifting freight market

Details of the May TCI are found in the July 2022 issue of FTR’s Trucking Update, which was published on June 30. The July edition also includes a discussion of the dynamics currently supporting a shift of freight demand back to larger contract carriers from smaller carriers and the spot market.

Prices for diesel fuel have actually moderated in recent weeks. The national average for trucking's main distillate is $5.432 per gallon, according to the data release on July 18 from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), or 37.8 cents lower than June 20, the most recent week the price has risen, with an all-time high of $5.81 nationally that week.

This news might give consumers and carriers an idea that the pain in their pocketbooks is history, but diesel still is $2.088 higher than it was a year ago. Gasoline prices even have declined for more than 30 days in a row, with the EIA pricing gas at $4.49 nationally, a 15.6-cent decrease from last week. But even gas is $1.337 per gallon more expensive than at this time in 2021.

About the Author

Scott Achelpohl | Managing Editor

I'm back to the trucking and transportation track of my career after some time away freelancing and working to cover the branches of the U.S. military, specifically the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and the U.S. Coast Guard. I'm a graduate of the University of Kansas and the William Allen White School of Journalism there with several years of experience inside and outside business-to-business journalism. I'm a wordsmith by nature, and I edit FleetOwner magazine and our website as well as report and write all kinds of news that affects trucking and transportation.

Sponsored Recommendations

Reducing CSA Violations & Increasing Safety With Advanced Trailer Telematics

Keep the roads safer with advanced trailer telematics. In this whitepaper, see how you can gain insights that lead to increased safety and reduced roadside incidents—keeping drivers...

80% Fewer Towable Accidents - 10 Key Strategies

After installing grille guards on all of their Class 8 trucks, a major Midwest fleet reported they had reduced their number of towable accidents by 80% post installation – including...

Proactive Fleet Safety: A Guide to Improved Efficiency and Profitability

Each year, carriers lose around 32.6 billion vehicle hours as a result of weather-related congestion. Discover how to shift from reactive to proactive, improve efficiency, and...

Tackling the Tech Shortage: Lessons in Recruiting Talent and Reducing Turnover

Discover innovative strategies for recruiting and retaining tech talent in the trucking industry at our April 16th webinar, where experts will share insights on competitive pay...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of FleetOwner, create an account today!