Mid-Year Observations on the Auto Transport Industry

At the halfway mark for 2014, we’ve seen some interesting developments in the vehicle transport industry so far. Here’s a quick breakdown from both the haulaway (truck) and rail perspectives.

Truck Driver Safety

In industry language, a “haulaway” is a truck designed for the transportation of automobiles. As safety is of primary importance at MetroGistics, we regularly monitor trends and legislation affecting trucking and driver hours.

The Senate Appropriations Committee recently voted in favor of an amendment proposed by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, to suspend the hours of service ruling for one year while the Department of Transportation conducts a deeper study of the rule’s impact on safety.

The rule was introduced by the Federal Motor Safety Administration (part of the DOT) and was designed to improve safety on the roads by reducing truck driver fatigue. The rule would have limited the average work week for truckers to 70 hours. Suspension of the rule reinstates the maximum driver work week to 82 hours. Additional rules govern consecutive driving days and appropriate rest periods.

The vote to suspend the rule needs to be passed by the full Senate and then reconciled with the bill in the House of Representatives.

MetroGistics requires all of its contractors to comply with state and federal regulations, including whatever hours of service limits are currently in force. Our proprietary Safer Ship product monitors our carrier base 24/7 via a connection to the DOT/FMCSA to ensure that all our carriers have current and proper levels of insurance and are authorized by the DOT to haul vehicles. Our software checks and monitors compliance nightly.

Rail Transport

A very harsh winter disrupted the rail network in both the United States and Canada. As such, a short railcar supply caused a nationwide backlog across the industry of more than double the average number of vehicles awaiting transport.  The delays caused many vehicles to be stored at various offsite facilities, thus adding to the total transport cost.

While OEM’s traditionally use rail for distances of 200-300 miles or more, the short railcar supply has caused them to look at other vehicle distribution options (such as short-sea shipping from Mexico to the United States)  and found that trucking can even be cost competitive for a radius of 700 miles.

The railroads are projecting a relief in the backlog during the traditional summer auto plant shutdowns.

MetroGistics understands that rail will remain a critical component of the finished vehicle distribution network, and advises our customers accordingly depending on their needs and time frames.

To learn more about these and other vehicle transport trends, or to contact a MetroGistics dispatcher about your specific transport needs, call 877-571-6235, live chat via our home page, or email info@metrogistics.com.

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