In this decade, Motor Carrier Act of 1980 and the Surface Transportation Assistance of 1982 were the most important moments in the industry.
First one deregulated the industry, causing increased competition and lower pay for drivers, while second one standardized trucks size and weight limits on a federal level, removing a barrier state problems.
After Motor Carrier Act of 1980, truckers could price freely within 15% up and down from current levels.
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The law produced higher level of competition which eventually resulted in lower prices and profit margins. Suddenly a large number of new non-union carriers showed up, and they were mostly new low-cost firms.
In the end, manufacturers reduced their inventories consumers benefited, but competition got really hard and become a permanent mark of US trucking industry in following years.
North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) – 1990’s
Probably most important, and certainly the most controversial moment in trucking industry od 1990’s was, North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), signed by Canada, Mexico and United States.
NAFTA’s impact have been subject of many relevant studies all over the world. These attempts were equally in favour and against the agreement, based on impact the agreement on national economies.
However, is seems that US benefited the most. According to US Chamber of Commerce, NAFTA increased trade with Canada and Mexico from $337 billion to $1.2 trillion in less than 20 years, after the agreement.
Trucking Industry Issues – 21st century
In 2000’s, US trucking industry faces the biggest challenge. Trucking companies were faced with aging fleet of vehicles.
Midrange engines were supposed to replace the old ones, but the companies chose to avoid the buying, and turned to low mileage used trucks.
A low-mileage tractors were all over the market which caused lowering the prices. Rock bottom prices were threatening to fleets, manufactures and truck finance companies. Almost 70% of the trucking companies found themselves on the verge of bankruptcy.
One of the great things about trucking is the fact it’s a vital to the national economy. Speculation cannot change the necessity of freight movements. That is possible explanation how the industry kept going in spite of so many problems in 2000’s.
I will stop here because last two decades are all about globalization, and how everything is related. You often hear that shaking action on side of the world could produce consequences on another.
I really don’t think you will find those analyses particularly interesting, unless you are some market analysts or doing some research. In that case I suggest you visiting Internal Revenue Service or similar web sites.
It’s enough to know that technological breakthrough didn’t pass by trucking industry. In fact, trucks turned out to be ideal for implementing tech innovations because of it’s features, including communication, gps tracking, WiFi and more.
Nowadays, the real issue in US trucking industry is shortage of truck drivers. Hiring truck drivers is becoming a challenge for trucking companies. Some are seeing female truck drivers as a new labour pool. Others are expecting new technologies, like self driving trucks to be a solution.
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All in all, we are living in exciting times, and as you can see from this brief overview it’s always been like that in this business.
Yes, it can be tough. Hard competition, endless roads and loneliness, sometimes unpleasant customers, deadlines and much more, are requiring strong characters and creative workers.
But all that is regular part of everyday life of a trucker. That is why they are so cool, and so important. Personally, I consider that being a part of trucking industry is a privilege.
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