They've got a long way to go and a short time to get there. That famous phrase from the film Smokey and the Bandit could also describe most of the U.S. trucking industry in 2019. A new FOX Business report says 640 trucking companies failed in the first half of this year, taking some 20,000 trucks off the road. That's more than double the rate of failures last year.
The trend of downsizing in the trucking industry is nothing new---310 trucking companies went under last year---but it has sped up this year. "When you look back over the course of the last several years, it has kind of been ongoing," says John Esparza, President of the Texas Trucking Association. "You have a lot of companies that have consolidated, and certainly some failures within there."
Esparza tells KTRH that all the failures are indicative of the cyclical and challenging nature of the trucking business. "It's more and more difficult to stay in trucking," he says. "It's a highly unregulated industry, so it's not easy to do and frankly one of the bigger challenges is keeping drivers in seats...it's hard to find drivers."
Indeed, the shortage of drivers has been an ongoing issue for the trucking industry, especially in Texas because of the growth of oil and natural gas exploration in recent years. But that also signals a positive outlook for the years ahead. "Freight is going to continue to grow, and it might grow slightly over some years and greater in others, but it will continue to grow," says Esparza. "And with the trend we have in economic development and the trend we have with people moving to this state, the demand for freight will continue to be strong in Texas."