With 2021 officially in the rearview mirror, it’s a great time to look at what trends in trucking have shaped the industry in the last year— and what a year it’s been! 

Demand for truck capacity hit historic highs, as did rates in 2021. This was a welcome change that occurred from the unprecedented events of 2020. Of course, the past year did present many new challenges for truckers as well, as operating costs also increased this year. In some cases, this created offset revenue gains for owner-operators and fleets and there is expected to be more time trying to recover financially from this in the new year.  

None of us can predict exactly what 2022 will be like for the trucking industry, but some of the trends from last year are strongly expected to carry on into 2022 and beyond. Here are how five of the biggest trends from 2021 could affect your business, and the trucking industry at large, in the new year. 

Trucking Trends of 2022 

1. Rising Fuel Cost for Truckers 

The current national average per-gallon price of diesel fuel is $3.674, which is $1.148 higher than it was a year ago. Diesel prices have steadily increased after hitting a low of $2.39 in October of 2020. These low prices occurred due to the reduced demand for fuel at the beginning of the pandemic in early 2020, which slowed down oil production.  

Since then, demand for fuel has spiked but production still hasn’t caught up to meet that demand. Most experts predict that oil production will finally catch up to demand in 2022 which will cause diesel prices to drop. If that doesn’t happen and diesel prices continue to climb, then expect a higher push on freight rates, and more talks about electric trucks and other alternatives that will help fleet managers and owner-operators save money and meet their bottom line. 

2. In-App/Digital Load Booking for Efficient Trucking Services 

In a recent Trucker Tools survey of owner-operators and carriers, it was revealed that 76% of their sample have booked at least one load within the last 60 days through an app or online. Additionally, 64% of those we surveyed said that five years from now, most loads will be booked online or through apps. 

In-app and online load booking is a part of the industry now and it’s likely to grow in 2022. Tools like these offer you convenience and greater efficiency by reducing the number of phone calls you receive from brokers and helping you run a more productive trucking business, whether you’re an owner op or a fleet owner. And with all businesses looking to streamline their areas of technology operation by increasing their use of automation, you can expect these digital load booking apps will only grow more popular year after year.  

3. Increased Freight Volume and Revenue for Truckers in 2022 

According to the American Trucking Association’s U.S. Freight Transportation Forecast to 2022, the U.S. is likely to see a 24% increase in freight tonnage in 2022; and while heavier freights do mean longer drives for truckers, the good news is that revenue is predicted to increase by 67% because of the increased weight, and most of those profitable gains will occur within the trucking industry.  

In response to higher freight volumes, it’s likely that the use of time-saving technology among owner operators and carriers like you will increase. Efficiency-boosting trucking tech like the previously mentioned driver apps and carrier platforms will simplify how you find and book loads, reduce phone calls and emails from brokers, and increase productivity. 

4. Shorter Hauls Gaining More Popularity with Truckers and Owner-Operators 

Data gathered by the American Transportation Research Institute in its 2021 Analysis of the Operational Costs of Trucking found that 69% of the hauls made by carriers in 2020 were under 500 miles. Over the last five years, hauls over 1,000 miles have dropped.  

If this trend continues at the same pace, local hauls will become the primary haul length for most carriers in 2022. Unlike OTR trucking, shorter hauls allow drivers to be home more and keep drivers from sitting too long, which can be a health risk. Should the popularity of short hauls grow in 2022, it’s likely that trucking companies will be challenged to find OTR drivers for longer trips. 

5. Industry-Wide Focus on Reducing Detention for Truckers in 2022 

As an owner-operator or carrier, detention is a huge problem for trucking. Just how big of a problem it is recently became known in testimony that MIT researcher David Correll provided to U.S. lawmakers at a Congressional hearing. 

Correll told members of Congress that approximately 40% of a trucker’s day is being wasted on detention. He also testified that most truckers only spend six and a half hours each day moving loads, even though 11 hours are allowable under HOS regs. An industry-wide focus on reducing detention is needed to tackle the problem. If more brokers, shippers, and 3PLs used technology to watch detention times in 2022, detention could be reduced — which would be a win for the entire industry. 

Driving with Roane Transportation—a Career that’s Always On-Trend. 

Since 1996, Roane Transportation has been providing quality long-haul and short-haul transportation services for a wide variety of clients all over the U.S. Our flatbed fleets hold excellent safety records and offer unmatched dedication to both CDL drivers and customers. Roane Transportation truck drivers are driven by integrity and strive for excellence with every shipment, making sure all freight gets where it needs to go on time and intact. So, if you want peace of mind on the road, turn to Roane Transportation. Visit us online today or call us directly at 865-345-3288 to learn more about our drivers and the services we offer.