March 22, 2011 2:30 PM, EDT

February Truck Tonnage Rises 4.2%

Tim Rue/Bloomberg News

February truck tonnage increased 4.2% from a year ago but slipped from January, American Trucking Associations said Tuesday.

The year-over-year increase followed a revised 7.6% gain in January that was below the 8% originally reported, ATA said in its monthly seasonally adjusted for-hire truck tonnage report.

The index is now at a reading of 113.3, with the year 2000 as a baseline reading of 100. January’s truck tonnage reading was the highest in three years.

February’s index slipped 2.9% from January, and tonnage is up 5.9% for the first two months of the year from a year earlier, ATA said.

ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said winter storms likely played a role in the latest reduction and that he was not concerned about the decline from January.

“Tonnage is not going to increase every month and in general I’m very pleased with freight volumes early this year,” he said in a statement.

Costello also said motor carriers’ anecdotal reports were encouraging, adding that he was “hearing a significant amount of positive news from fleets and that the largest concern continues to be the price of diesel fuel, not freight levels.”

ATA calculates the tonnage each month based on reports by its member trucking companies.