2021 Data Essentials: Fleet reactivations and deactivations

FleetSeek analysts work hard to ensure the active fleets shown in the FleetSeek application are accurate and complete. Part of the analyst process each month is a review of our source data to deactivate and reactivate fleets. This process is important, as fleet reactivations and deactivations are not made available by other data sources. Our combination of automated processes and hands-on analyst review helps to ensure our high data quality and expand data granularity.

While these processes are not new to FleetSeek, in 2021 we began formally tracking and quantifying how many fleets were identified in our reviews. For both reactivations and deactivations, we review totals by fleet type, and for deactivations specifically, we further capture the specific reasoning for the change in status.

These metrics provide insight into the health of the commercial and private trucking fleets in service in the U.S. today. This month we are sharing trends we have observed so far in 2021 and breaking down the topline figures.

January to April Reactivations and Deactivations

The chart above shows that from January through April of this year there have been 29,279 deactivations and 15,735 reactivations. The first thing that jumps out is that there have been nearly twice as many deactivations as reactivations thus far in 2021. However, this is not to say that the total number of active fleets has dropped in 2021 – exactly the opposite is true. From January to April the number of active fleets increased by 6.5%. This tells us that the number of brand-new fleets being issued DOT numbers has been outpacing the net fleets lost to deactivations so far in 2021.

Fleet Reactivations and Deactivations Defined

So, what does it mean for a fleet to reactivate and why would this happen? In a practical sense, the designation means a fleet which once had an assigned DOT number with active status, but more recently listed as inactive, has renewed its authority. Basically, they were recently not operating but have gotten back into action.

While motives for reactivations are not captured in the underlying data, there are some trends in the industry that we could reasonably point to as to why a fleet would be seeking to renew their authority in 2021. In the case of owner operators, it could be that pay per mile increases and generous sign-on bonuses have lured them back¹. For other owner operators it could be that they were sitting it out for safety or family reasons during Covid but are now able to get back to work. Of course, for some it will not have been a voluntary hiatus; the fleet’s insurance or DOT authority could have been revoked and they have successfully worked to get it back.

Looking at deactivations, the same reasons discussed above hold true: fleets could have been sitting the pandemic-times out, they could have been waiting for more lucrative pay, or they could have had their insurance or DOT authority revoked. It could also be that a fleet had issues with securing enough drivers or enough working vehicles to continue their operations.

Why Are Fleets Deactivating?

FleetSeek has been able to identify fleets that have deactivated for three common reasons: their total number of vehicles has dipped to zero (which is below our threshold), their DOT number has been revoked, or their MCS-150 information is out of date. In April 2021, deactivations were basically evenly split among these three core reasons.

April 2021 Deactivations by Reason

These overall figures tell us about the movement of fleets between active and inactive statuses. Knowing which fleets specifically have recently been reactivated or deactivated can be a boon for some organizations looking to target messages tailored to these potential customers. For more information on how you can access the monthly details on reactivations and deactivations, contact your sales representative at 888-665-9887 or [email protected].

Articles referenced:

[1] Forward Air delivers largest driver pay raise in its history. Retrieved June 3, 2021.

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