A NEW PORT IN THE ARIZONA DESERT
Last month, the first international ocean container arrived at the Port of Tucson in Arizona, making the trip from China in just 20 days. You heard right – there is now a “port” in the desert! Intermodal freight destined for the U.S. from overseas has been coming to our shores for decades, but now it has a new way to make it even farther inland without having to rely as much on trucks for the long haul. A private company called Progressive Railroading has been handling domestic containers for nearly ten years. Port officials worked with Union Pacific Railroad to offer a new service for international containers running on trains between the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach – and now, the inland Port of Tucson. This new service means that international freight coming into southern California and destined for southern Arizona or points across the border in Mexico will no longer need a truck to move them after arriving in the U.S. The container can now be sent seamlessly to the facility by rail, then later, by local trucks, to the consignee.
Shippers can now ship to and from China without any long-haul trucks ever touching the highways. It sounds bad, but don’t despair. A new report by the American Trucking Association shows that trucking will continue to be the main mode of transportation in the United States. In fact, intermodal container volumes rose by 5.9% over the previous year, with 13.1 million moves. That number surpassed the previous benchmark year of 2007 by 9.8%. For the third straight year, domestic containers experienced the highest growth rate – 12.1% over 2011 – with volumes topping 5 million for the first time. Trucks moved 9.4 billion tons of freight in 2012 or 68.5% of all domestic shipments. This is up from last year. From November 2012 to January 2013, tonnage increased 9.1%. Also, in 2012, trucking generated $642.1 billion in gross freight revenue or 80.7% of the nation’s freight bills.
SOME TRUCKING FACTS & FIGURES
Here is some fun trucking trivia. There are now approximately 6.9 million people in trucking-related industries. In 2010, nearly 12.5 billion tons of freight, with a value of approximately $10.5 billion, moved by truck in the U.S., according to the US DOT. Those figures are expected to grow to around 18.5 billion tons, valued at $21.7 billion, by the year 2040. In 2012, there were 793,470 class A & B drivers in the U.S. The average hourly wage was $19.80 for those drivers, who averaged $41,190 annually.
The average fuel cost-per-mile for trucking fleets in 2011 was $1.71 – converted into hourly figures using an average truck operating speed, the total average industry cost-per-hour was $68.20 in 2011. Fuel and driver wages, not counting benefits, are the largest costs for trucking companies. This represents 62% of the average operating cost in 2011. The majority of trucking outfits are small businesses – with 90.5% operating with six or fewer trucks. Only 2.8% of fleets have more than 20 trucks.
The trucking industry paid $36.5 billion in federal and state highways user fees and taxes in 2011 – this was a 10.3% increase from 2009. New orders for Class-8 trucks (those with a gross weight over 33,001 lbs.) for March 2013 came in at 21,817 units, which was an 11% increase compared with the same month in the previous year. I guess things are getting better – at least on paper!
BEING A PROFESSIONALTRUCK DRIVER
Most truck drivers say that driving a big rig is a rewarding experience – it is not just a job. It is not just putting time in and going home – it is a career. Driving a truck offers special rewards, and the nation’s economy depends on it. As a driver, you are on your own for the most part – no one is looking over your shoulder to give advice or to make decisions for you. You are the boss and the decision-maker. Thus, professional drivers must possess discipline, skill and training. That being said, what does it really mean to be a professional driver? Is it getting the cargo delivered on-time and damage-free, or is there more to being a professional?
Safety in the trucking industry is just assumed to be synonymous with regulatory compliance. Although most drivers will agree that government-imposed safety rules are valuable basic safety efforts, they will also agree that mere compliance with these rules is not enough to keep our highways safe. So, what more –than compliance – is there to being a professional truck driver?
A safe and professional truck driver considers every accident to be preventable unless there was no action which the driver could have reasonably taken to avoid the accident, and that his actions in no way contributed to the occurrence of the accident. The driver must drive in such a way that he commits no errors himself and so controls his vehicle to make due allowance for the condition of the road, the weather and traffic, and so that mistakes of other drivers do not involve him in any accident. The National Safety Council defines a “Preventable Accident” as, “Any accident involving a vehicle which results in property damage and/or personal injury, regardless of who was injured, what property was damaged, to what extent, or where it occurred, in which the driver failed to exercise every reasonable precaution to prevent the accident.”
Professional drivers display professional conduct. This conduct demonstrates that if he/she makes the right decisions, the right results may follow. He/she understands that operating well-maintained equipment and utilizing protective driving techniques helps add to their safety, and the safety of the motoring public. Professional truck drivers know positive results are a product of the right behavior. This is why true professional drivers attempt to choose the right courses of action. So, is there more to just delivering a load and being in compliance to being a professional? YOU BET! Please take it upon yourself to strive to become the most professional truck driver you can be. A true professional driver recognizes that protecting the motoring public is their first and most important responsibility!