Freight Truck ShippingTrucks and railroads have been two of the leading choices for freight transportation in the U.S. But is one mode of freight shipping more efficient and better than the other? The answer actually depends on client’s preference.

Clash of the Titans

In 2015, trucks accounted for over 64% of hauled North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) freight in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Freight railroads transported 14.9 of NAFTA cargo in the same year.

Before you conclude that trucks are better because of their larger share of the market, consider the implications of freight truck shipping on a broader picture.

For instance, more trucks on the road due to a larger demand for them logically mean heavier congestion in ports, roads and other points of destination.

Railroads offer an alternative shipping mode, with the Association of American Railroads claiming that the U.S. has the most efficient and cost-effective freight rail system worldwide. But while railroad accidents are relatively not frequent, incidents such as hazardous-materials spills and derailed trains pose a great amount of threat to the public and the environment.

By The Numbers

A report from the Wall Street Journal noted that shipping demand for trucks in the spot market points to a downward trend. Data from online freight marketplace DAT Solutions revealed that demand for space on trucks fell 29% in February year over year, even including flatbed trucking companies.

The decline in demand for trucks took place as capacity surged 18% in the same month. Further, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) truck tonnage index dropped 1.4% in January, while large truckload carriers’ annualized turnover rate increased between July and September 2015, up by 13 points to 100%.

Still, trucks can be a good way to handle freight shipments, especially perishable items that require immediate distribution. Trucking firms are just some of the options for shipping food and other temperature-sensitive loads, among other services.

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