Poor winter road conditions, cross-border vaccine mandates, and flood-ravaged sections of Western Canada led to unprecedented shortages of trucks moving freight between the United States and Canada.
In the month of January, typically a slower one, the trucking industry saw rates routinely double or triple in some cases. The spike hit when cross-border vaccine mandates went into effect, leaving shippers wondering where all the trucks went. While a domestic driver in either country does not have these restrictions, some of their cross-border colleagues had to find other work or simply get out of the industry altogether. Our own investigation puts the number of drivers leaving the cross-border trucking market at 27%, while the government says 10%.
While the trucking industry struggles to add capacity and adjust, cross-border shippers are experiencing extended transit times, nonexistent trucks, empty shelves, and the highest freight rates quite possibly ever seen in trucking.
The good news is that winter is on its way out, speeding up driving time and giving the fair-weather truckers an opportunity to get back out on the road. Some shippers that can wait have chosen to hold on to their shipment until freight rates normalize or cross border mandates ease.
While trade analysts do expect the sky-high prices to ease, they do not see them coming back down to pre-January levels. An already existing driver shortage and high equipment costs will keep driver pay climbing and freight rates fluid for the coming months.