What to Expect in 2021: Trucking Outlook


At the start of the pandemic, at a time when many other industries came to a standstill, the trucking industry became more essential than ever before. While many of us stayed inside to help stop the spread of the virus, truck drivers started the year working to deliver food, PPE, and toilet paper, and ended the year by delivering the first sets of COVID-19 vaccinations.

So, after a year unlike any other, what can we expect to see for the trucking industry in 2021? We’re taking a closer look at some of the trends that CDL Life predicts we’ll see this year.

Infrastructure Improvements

The Department of Transportation has launched an initiative to create new jobs through a 10-year, $1.3 trillion infrastructure plan, $50 billion of which will be allocated to fixing highways and bridges. It remains to be seen how quickly this plan can be put into action, but the proposed improvements could cut costs and travel times by making it easier for truck drivers to get where they need to go with fewer accidents and less traffic.

Rate Changes

Recently, there‚Äôs been an increase in truck orders, though this is largely believed to be part of a “catch-up replacement” effort by trucking companies, as opposed to new orders of additional supply. As detailed by Markets Insider, this has led to supply constraints and increased prices. Industry experts expect contract rates to continue increasing over the first part of this year, before easing up by the middle of the year.

Similarly, you can expect to see freight rates start to return to normal by the early summer, after a year of unpredictability. However, don’t expect to see the freight rates fully recover until the end of the year.

With many people still working remotely and staying at home as much as possible, fuel demand remains down. As a result, fuel costs should stay flat throughout the first part of the year. As more people receive their vaccinations and start to begin venturing out again, fuel costs could rise, which would be felt by the trucking industry.


Fortunately, all signs point to a more normal year for the trucking industry, particularly after we get out of the first quarter. Read the full article from CDL Life to learn more about some of the ways the trucking industry might change in 2021 and beyond.