ATS Transportation Blog

The Trucking Industry in July 2021: What you should know

Semi tractor In the trucking industry, July makes busy bees of us all as produce season in southern states continues to ramp up and Q3 stretches its legs in anticipation of an exciting three months.

While July is a great time to catch some much-needed rays out on the water with your friends and family, finding truck capacity may prove a bit trickier. 

Here at ATS, we’ve been around for. . . well, let’s just say A LOT of Julys (66 to be precise). As a result, we’ve refined our understanding of the trucking industry during this month and we’re here to explain what you should expect. 

The 31 days of July can be hard on the shippers who don’t plan for the intricacies of finding capacity this month.

In this blog, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about locating trucking capacity in July including:

Hold on to your floppy-brimmed hats and break out your sunscreen, friends. Demand for truck capacity is about to be HOT this July, let’s discuss why.

How Are Dry Van and Reefer Capacities Impacted in July?

Dry van trailer at truck stop

In most months, enclosed trailers like dry van and reefers offer companies reliably sourced capacity when and where they need it, even on short notice.

During July though, securing a dry van or reefer trailer for your freight may feel a little different and prove more elusive, due to two main factors.

  1. Produce Harvest In Southern States
  2. Household Goods Season Nationwide

Together, these factors will impact your ability to find dry van and reefer truck capacity over the next 31 days.

Produce Harvest in the Southern United States 

Feeding the nation fresh produce is no small task. And, doing so correctly requires coordination between many stakeholders to ensure that perishable items — like strawberries — line store shelves before their expiration.

To move these items quickly, the demand for reliable reefer and dry van capacity spikes in many southern states throughout July including, but not limited to:

Georgia Alabama Florida Texas California
  • Corn
  • Figs
  • Grapes
  • Plums
  • Beans
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cucumbers
  • Mangoes
  • Watermelons
  • Avocados
  • Guavas
  • Apples
  • Berries
  • Cherries
  • Cantaloupes
  • Oranges
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Sweet Onions
  • Eggplants

 

This rising demand for their services is great for the truck drivers in these areas which makes finding capacity for your outbound freight more difficult. Drivers want to be efficient with their time and produce season grants them maximum efficiency. 

From one load to the next, drivers certainly aren’t hurting for work which makes enticing them to leave these regions more expensive. As a result, expect to pay a bit more — as you did in June — to secure dry van or reefer capacities out of these regions during July. 

The riches are flowing and truckers want to stay awhile. 

On the flip side, finding a truck into these states should be a bit easier this July. 

Truckers nationwide recognize the capacity uptick happening in these regions at this time of year. And, when a driver knows they’ll be able to find their next load at your endpoint, their willingness to move your freight into these locations increases. 

What can I say, everybody wants to get into the act and, should your freight bring drivers to the waves of fresh produce throughout these regions, you may get a break on your rate. 

Household Goods Season Nationwide

July is also the sight of the final four weeks of household goods season throughout our nation. The kids are out of school which makes July the perfect month for American families to uproot their lives and head for greener pastures. 

From sea to shining sea, families pack their bags and — following an enjoyable final month in what they thought would be their forever home — begin their move. 

Thus begins the latter half of the migration of household goods from one residence to the next. 

As you likely know, human beings, particularly those with children, have a lot of belongings and they’re not leaving many behind. 

All of their precious household items will be going with them as they start their newest journey and they’ll need some truckers to help them out.  Often these trailers are dropped for several days while loading/unloading occurs — tightening capacity further.

As such, demand for truck drivers pulling dry vans rises during July’s household goods season making it more difficult, and more expensive, to find a truck.  

How Are Open-Deck Capacities Impacted in July?

heavy haul trailer moving machinery

From the northern states where the weather is toasty, to the predictably balmy south, everything opens up in July. 

The frost laws and weight restrictions on northern highways are no longer in effect, opening these roadways for the heavy influx of oversized freight that’s sure to come. 

In the north, farm and construction machinery transported on specialized flatbed trailers are in constant motion in the sticky July heat. Harvest season is coming in these regions and July’s a great time to get the necessary pieces in place. 

As a result, finding open deck capacity during July — especially across the upper midwest (Iowa, Nebraska, Michigan, South Dakota, etc.) — may cost a bit more than usual. 

July in the southern parts of our nation also sees an influx of over-dimensional and open deck freight. 

As continued infrastructure improvements and food production ramp-up before Fall rears her anxiously awaiting head, expect to battle with other shippers for open deck capacities this month, which will cost a bit extra.

What Else Should You Plan For This July?

Dry van loaded with cargo

In the trucking world, July has a couple of additional intricacies that you should be aware of, and plan for, as they could impact your ability to find a truck — especially on short notice. These are: 

  1. Canada Day
  2. The 4th of July
  3. DOT Operation Safe Driver Week

How Will Canada Day Impact Truck Capacity?

Three days before the 4th of July stalls supply chains across the United States, Canada Day does the same for our neighbors to the north.

Across the border, July 1st is a national holiday where Canadian citizens celebrate their nation's independence and unification with family and friends. 

Canadian flags fly high in the sky as the nation's workers take the day off to celebrate their heritage and the history of their beloved country.

As such, if you're looking to get goods across the U.S.-Canada border during the day leading up to, or following, July 1st, expect to have more difficulty doing so. Be sure to plan ahead for any shipments to and from Canada during this period as truck capacity — especially on the Canadian side — will come at a premium. 

How Will The 4th of July Impact Truck Capacity?

Just like you and I, truckers like to celebrate national holidays at home with the rest of their friends and family. Drivers don’t want to work over this holiday break especially when they could be taking some well-deserved time off. 

This drop-off of on-duty truckers can make finding capacity in the days leading up to and following the 4th of July more difficult — especially if the 4th falls on a weekday. 

To combat this, you’ll want to lengthen your pick-up and delivery windows wherever possible. This will give drivers added flexibility with their scheduling over these dates and help you avoid the cost of finding a trucker who’s willing and able to meet a strict appointment on or around this holiday.

Additionally — in the interest of keeping the motorways safe and clear — there are many state-level restrictions on the transportation of over-dimensional cargo during this holiday period (usually during July 2 - 6).

These restrictions vary from state to state so if you're in the business of moving OD freight during this period, make sure to consult your provider on how state transportation restrictions over the 4th of July will impact your freight. 

How Will DOT Operation Safe Driver Week Impact Truck Capacity?

Every July, the U.S. Department of Transportation, in conjunction with the Comercial Motor Vehicle Safety Administration, administers an “Operation Safe Driver Week” in the hopes of heavily monitoring and checking up on driver safety. 

This year, the DOT and area police officers will have a heavy presence on America’s roadways between the dates of July 11 and 17. 

During this period law enforcement professionals will be out in full force as they check this nation’s motor vehicle operators — both commercial and individual — for seatbelt usage and speed adherence. Additionally, commercial motor vehicle drivers, if pulled over, will be checked for electronic logging device (ELD) accuracy. 

Increased governmental ELD oversight will make drivers hyper-vigilant about properly adhering to hours of service regulations and maintaining their clocks. 

As such, truckers around our nation will want to ensure that they’re not accidentally thrown off track due to slow loading times or inefficiencies on a shipper’s part.  

To ensure that you find a willing truck over Operation Safe Driver Week and maintain your relationships with quality carriers who need to maximize their hours, you should focus on three things. 

First, make sure to give your provider proper lead time so that they can properly plan for your pick up. This will help them maintain the hours of service and stay on track. 

Second, you’ll want to be vigilant about the time it takes to load trucks with outbound freight. Making sure that your loading times are efficient will help truckers during this period. 

Finally, if possible lengthen your schedule. Tight appointments will be increasingly difficult for drivers to meet, especially if their HOS clock is adjusted because of delays. Being flexible with your pick/drop requirements will make your freight far more attractive to drivers during July. 

How Should You Prepare For July In the Trucking Industry?

July, like June before it, is a crazy busy time in the trucking industry. 

That said, getting the most from your budget and sticking to your timelines is still important and we’re here to help you through it. 

The first, and most important, thing that you can do to get the most out of your budget this July is to give your transportation provider an adequate amount of lead time

Although it varies by equipment type, region and commodity, a good time frame for advanced notice falls between 48 and 72 hours before the time your shipment needs to load. 

Given this amount of lead time, a great transportation partner will be able to secure your truck at a reasonable price and get it to your facility when and where you need it. 

Another great way to make sure that you make the most of your budget this June is to ask your provider questions about each of the factors we’ve outlined above. 

Ask questions like: 

  • How will the harvest in the south - southeast impact my shipment?
  • How should I plan for my shipment over the 4th of July? 
  • Will the movement of household goods nationwide impact my freight? 
  • How can I maximize my budget this July?

Asking questions like these will help you to find the correct provider and, in turn, make the most of your shipping dollars this July. 

Finally, lengthening your pick-up and/or drop-off windows will make it far easier to find a truck this month. The more flexibility you can give drivers the more likely you’ll be to find a freight solution. 

July is a busy month but it doesn’t have to feel chaotic. If you would like to find out more about how ATS can help you get your freight moved efficiently and cost-effectively this July, let’s talk about it!

Tags: Insider, Freight Brokerage, Flatbed Shipping, Dry Van Shipping, Seasonality

Eric Metso

Written by Eric Metso

Eric has been a sales manager with ATS Logistics since 2018 — when he helped create a new sales team from scratch. In his role, he supports his team as they develop their book of business and create new partnerships. Eric joined ATS in 2013 as a sales representative for ATS Logistics. He was also a sales member with ATS’ Vans division before coming back to ATS Logistics in his current role.

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