Placing A Dollar Value On The Future Of Trucking In America
Sometimes it is easy to underestimate or take for granted the benefits that specific industries contribute to the economy as a whole. Trucking is one of those industries that often seems to be misunderstood by the general public. This is particularly hard to figure out for most truckers, especially if you spend any time driving on interstates across this country. On these roads you will see that the vast majority of traffic is big rigs, especially if you are traveling at night when a lot of truckers choose or are required to be on the road.
It is reported by the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions that approximately 10% of the entire Gross Domestic Product for the United States in 2002 was from transportation of goods. In addition in that same year there were over 19 billion tons of freight that moved about 4.4 trillion miles across the country. Of this total amount of freight about 70% of loads are moved by trucks which added up to an actual increase of about 100% between the years of 1980 to 2007.
The reason that trucking has shown such an increase over the years is because it is still the most economical option to get products from the manufacturers, brokers, shippers, importers and exporters to the customers. Trucking includes direct movement of freight from the manufacturer or wholesaler to the retailer or it can include trucking cargo loads from the point of origin to a port, rail terminal or even airport. Intermodal transport, using trucks plus one or more other transportation methods for the freight, accounts for about 11% of all freight moved within and outside of the United States. This number is anticipated to increase to more than 21% by the year 2035 according to the Federal Highway Administration.
There are some real blocks or potential problems to consider with the increasing importance of trucking and truckers. In the United States alone there are serious problems with both the rail systems as well as roadways, largely due to decreasing amounts spent by federal and local governments on maintenance and repairs. It was only in this last few years that the issue of the substandard conditions of many bridges on main highways and roads in virtually all states in the country become common public knowledge.
As industry relies so heavily on trucking as a safe, economical and efficient way to transport their goods and make money, it seems reasonable that they would have an interest in maintaining roads, bridges and enhance traffic flow around the country. Unfortunately, these repairs and maintenance issues, including any possible improvements, are left entirely up to the local, state and federal governments. Already strapped government agencies are not even keeping up with repairs and maintenance let alone focusing in on improvements.
According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce the cost to the United States in simply maintaining roadways, bridges and transit structures will be just under $300 billion by the year 2015. Actual improvements that would create better and more efficient traffic flow, upgrade to new technology and rebuild many of the most degraded systems and highways would total over $365 billion in the same year.
Roads That Go Where They Are Needed
Another key consideration is the actual routes or long haul points of access into and outside of the United States. As more and more freight is hauled to and from Mexico and Canada into and out of the United States, better interstate highways to accommodate this traffic are definitely needed.
These so called north south corridors or superhighways were considered and even planned in some cases, but they have yet to be constructed or even funded. Some states have enhanced their highway system, but it doesn’t connect to nationally planned highways that connect to points of entry and exit into Canada and Mexico. The result is that already deteriorating highways are now being used even more, further creating expensive repair projects that use up any money that is possible for construction of new, better and more efficient highways for both passenger vehicles and freight traffic.
The good news is that trucking associations and groups are lobbying and working to bring this very serious issue to the attention of politicians and those that have the ability to make decisions. As the value of trucking continues to grow within all sectors of the economy and industry, it only makes sense to spend money on building roads, bridges and infrastructure that is going to help industry grow.
Getting involved with trucking associations is one way that truckers can help support these groups in their efforts to promote the value of trucking. By banding together in one united voice truckers, even a single owner operator, has a chance to influence decisions that can help both the economy as a whole as well as their ability to keep working in this necessary and essential part of the economy.
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