Road Freight Transport in Europe: Multidirectional Pressure on Road Freight Rates

Road freight rates in Europe hit all-time high, but their growth slowed sharply in Q3, according to the European Road Freight Rates Benchmark Report, produced by Transport Intelligence and Upply.

The reason for growth slackening is weakening consumption and slowdown in industrial production in Europe. In addition, stock levels in Europe are very high, which also reduces the volume of transport orders in the last quarter of the year.

At the same time, there are still factors contributing to the rate growth. First of all, high fuel prices. TI and Upply analysts estimate that fuel costs could be as high as 50% of a road haulier’s total costs today, compared to about one-third before the pandemic.

Driver shortage is also a problem faced by road hauliers across Europe and there is little evidence that this problem will be solved in the coming years. Moreover, the shortage is forecasted to be far worse with the retirement of a large group of drivers aged 50+.

A new IRU report shows that the demand for truck and bus drivers in Europe is running rampant. The IRU study warns that the driver shortage could triple in 4 years unless effective measures are taken.

According to the IRU, the proportion of young truck drivers is as little as 6%, despite good salaries and persistently high youth unemployment rates in many countries.