The MIT FreightLab’s latest industry roundtable explored the drivers behind today’s extremely tight market for truck capacity and the broader implications for supply chains.

Supply and demand fluctuate in the market for truck transportation, as they do in any other market. However, in U.S. trucking, the fluctuations are often extreme, and when this happens, it is tempting to believe that the latest swing is unique.

The extreme market conditions now being experienced may actually be unprecedented, according to attendees at the Securing Transportation Capacity in Challenging Markets roundtable on February 25, 2021. Hosted by the MIT FreightLab, some 25 companies including shippers, carriers, and third-party logistics providers were represented at the invitation-only event.

In sharp contrast to 2019, when an oversupply of trucks depressed…

The 4 fights truckers are waging during COVID-19 while they have America’s attention

Image: The Disrespected Trucker

A popular aphorism currently making the rounds during the COVID-19 pandemic is, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”

Amid the current crisis, in boardrooms and classrooms, decision-makers are finding their leverage points and eyeing improved positions for their organizations in the post-pandemic world. In case you missed it, American truckers are currently doing the exact same thing — and, in some cases, they’re already winning. These battles could fundamentally change over-the-road cargo transportation and the working life of the American truck driver going forward.

Relaxing hours of service rules during the COVID-19 crisis

In an unprecedented move, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) — essentially, the…

Modern American supply chains are, in a way, a kind of Christmas miracle. In October and November, the gigantic gears of American commerce start turning. Manufacturers begin staging their finished inventory closer to consumers. This pre-positioning requires thousands upon thousands of trucks and truck drivers to zip across the country day and night to carry the loads. And in the same vein as Miracle on 34th Street and It’s a Wonderful Life, seemingly against all odds, those drivers come through and deliver the goods.

But an even more heartwarming Christmas miracle is one that actually happened. …

Image From the New York Public Library (

Just as animals constantly sense critical signals such as the sound of a predator approaching, procurement professionals must always be receptive to market signals that flag upstream market threats and opportunities.

This animal analogy can help us make sense of the many software solutions on offer to procurement professionals, especially in the context of how these solutions help professionals at various levels to monitor supply chains.

The Vigilance Deficit

It is very difficult to remain vigilant indefinitely. Scientific studies of people and animals confirm that the longer we spend on the watch, the less we actually see. Moreover, the longer we are watchful, the less time we can spend on other work.

In their seminal paper, The Problem of Vigilance in Animal Life, Drs. Stuart Dimond and John Lazarus describe the ways that evolution…

David Correll

Dr. David Correll is co-director of MIT’s Freightlab and leads the Driver Initiative, a data-driven research project studying American truck drivers.

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