Higher fuel prices, upward pressure on driver pay and a suddenly more sluggish freight market are creating more challenges for the trucking industry– challenges that may continue to build as 2012 progresses.

“There’s still a lot of general uncertainty facing carriers,” Mike Mulqueen, senior director for product development at Manhattan Associates, told Fleet Owner.

“Fuel prices are more volatile and rising back near the high levels of four or five years ago and [carrier] fuel surcharges are not covering all of that, especially when it comes to empty miles and idle time,” he said.

David Parker, chairman, president, & CEO of truckload carrier Covenant Transportation noted in the company’s year-end earnings report noted that diesel prices as measured by the Dept. of Energy averaged approximately 73 cents per gallon higher in the fourth quarter of 2011 compared with the same period in 2010 – an increase of 23.3%.

“We plan to continue managing our idle time and truck speeds, investing in more fuel-efficient tractors to improve our fuel miles per gallon, using fuel hedges from time to time to reduce our exposure to rapid increases in fuel prices, and partnering with customers to adjust fuel surcharge programs which are inadequate to recover a fair portion of rising fuel costs,” Parker said.

Read The Full Article Here…