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December 14, 2017 5:00 PM, EST

Editorial: Looking Back, Moving Ahead

So, how was your year?

A lot has happened since Jan. 1, and our “Year in Review” on our website provides a comprehensive roundup of the stories that made headlines:

2017 YEAR IN REVIEW: A Year Spent Looking Ahead

READER FAVORITES: 2017 by the numbers

ELD TIMELINE: How the mandate progressed from stage to stage

NOTABLE QUOTES: Take our quiz to find out who said what in 2017

There were some blockbuster stories in 2017.

The merger of Knight Transportation and Swift Transportation brought two big names together and was the highest profile deal made this year. Daeske Inc., flush with capital after its IPO, acquired seven companies during the year. Schneider Inc. also went public but has so far not made a splash with the $550 million it raised.

Fleets were definitely spending money on new trucks as sales gradually grew stronger as the year progressed. Trailer sales also were strong.

A strong freight market surely helped; the market for motor carriers’ services improved as 2017 moved along.

Heading into 2018, questions loom about how the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s electronic logging device mandate — which requires most drivers to log their hours of service electronically — will affect an already tight market for freight-hauling capacity. Some worry that the mandate will compel some drivers to leave the industry. That said, the expectation that pricing will rise as capacity tightens could also give rise to a corresponding increase in driver pay. In fact, fleets were announcing pay raises all year, and we’d expect that to continue as carriers sort out the mandate’s effect on their productivity.

Fleets definitely need to do something to entice drivers. According to American Trucking Associations, driver turnover for large carriers stood at 95% in the third quarter of the year — a high figure that, unfortunately, doesn’t raise eyebrows in an industry used to high turnover rates.

Trucking needs drivers more than ever, and outreach is expanding to groups that could help fill the void, notably women and veterans. We applaud these efforts.

Let’s hope the case is made to these candidates — as well as veteran drivers mulling career changes — that trucking is poised for an evolution that could reap benefits for them. If capacity tightens as expected, carriers will need responsible drivers. These drivers will have ELDs to track their hours, ensuring that they — and their employers — know exactly how much time they have left to drive, which will compel increased focus on routing efficiency.

Eventually, we believe the industry will adjust. For some fleets, those adjustments are well underway. The rest will soon figure it out. It will be interesting to see where things stand this time next year.

So, ready for a big year?