Shippers need to brace for sharply higher trucking rates because of steadily rising truck fleet costs that range from rolling stock to drivers to fuel while productivity levels are under threats from increased government regulation, top carrier officials are saying.

Trucking fleets are facing at least 4 percent rise in overall costs this year, fleet executives told shippers at the National Industrial Transportation League (NIT League) freight transportation policy forum on May 8.

If a shipper is not paying at least that much more in freight rates this year, carriers say, they ought to be prepared for such hikes soon.

The cost of a new Class 8 truck has risen about $40,000 to $125,000 in the past five years, executives said. Fuel is up about 400 percent in the past decade. Health care costs are rising in double digits. That caused one trucking executive to joke that the pharmaceutical and health care industry is the only one in America getting double-digit rate increases every year.

Trucking is facing the most stringent regulatory agenda since deregulation 32 years ago. Truck drivers are facing more scrutiny under the government’s CSA (Compliance, Safety, Accountability) initiative. Driver hours of service may be cut. And there are other headwinds such as higher fuel costs and tire, insurance, technology and equipment costs.