The flatbed trucking industry has experienced rising rates throughout the month of June with a major contributor to rising rates being fuel prices, but also in part due to the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance Roadcheck that occurred in North America from June 5th to June 7th. This is the first roadcheck to occur during the era of ELD. The roadcheck comes just two months after April 1st where Electronic Logging Devices would begin to be strictly enforced. Flatbed shipping companies have struggled this month to secure trucks for reasonable rates, if they could book a truck at all.
The Roadcheck that occurred had an emphasis on Hours of Service regulation compliance. The Hours of Service Regulations allows for 11 hours of driving after 10 consecutive hours off duty, or 10 hours of driving after 8 consecutive hours off duty. Flatbed oversized shippers have struggled in particular with the new Hours of Service Regulation due to the greater care and time that must be taken when transporting heavy or oversized loads. The road check placed drivers out of service if they did not have an ELD device or if they were over their Hours of Service Regulations, among other regulations. Due to the Roadcheck, truck capacity for flatbed hauling companies struggled to meet shipping demands as many drivers take this time during the roadcheck to take time off. From Rhode Island’s report on the 2018 Roadcheck, officers inspected over 400 vehicles and discovered nearly 800 violations. Eighty-six trucks were placed out of service, putting the out of service rate over 21%. Twenty four of these drivers were taken out of service due to violating their driving hours or not properly maintaining their log books.
During last year’s Roadcheck, which occurred prior to the ELD requirements, there were 62,000 inspections. During the three days of the Roadcheck inspections roughly 19% of trucks and 5% of drivers were taken out of service. It is likely that when the new numbers emerge for the 2018 Roadcheck that there will be even more trucks and drivers that were taken out of service. Judging from the small sample size of Rhode Island, where over a quarter of the drivers placed out of service were due to ELD or Hours of Service related issues, the ELD mandate will likely mean more drivers were placed out of service. According to DAT Trendlines, from the week of June 3-9 to June 10-16 the spot market capacity has increased 5.4%. This indicates capacity being hindered during Roadchecks as many drivers will decline loads simply because they don’t want to be on the road. Dat Trendline stated that for the week of June 10-16, “some capacity returned to the spot market after the Roadcheck inspection blitz, trucks were still hard to find last week, pushing prices upwards for all three equipment types (van, reefer, and flatbed).” The report goes on to state that the national flatbed rate hit a record high by reaching $2.82 per mile. Flatbed transportation companies have been forced to navigate a challenging market so far this month as rates have steadily climbed and capacity has been spotty. Expect more information to come out about rates as the market develops, especially as the trucking industry now looks forward to Safe Driver Week, which is scheduled to occur during July 15th to the 21st.