The European road freight rates have broken records in the second quarter of 2022, according to a benchmark produced by Transport Intelligence, Upply and the International Road Transport Union (IRU).

Inflation, weakening demand, social instability and the war in Ukraine are leading to tumultuous developments in road freight prices, the report said.

Contract road freight rate reached an all-time high of 121 points in Q2 2022. This represents a quarter-on-quarter increase of 6.1 points and a year-on-year increase of 13.1 points.

Likewise, European spot road freight hit a record high at 134 points – up 11.8 points from Q1 2022 and 20.1 points from Q2 2021.

Nathaniel Donaldson, economic analyst at Ti, said: “The effect of rising costs in 2022 is now very evident with road freight rates across the European continent reaching new all-time highs. Initial fuel price rises following the invasion of Ukraine have held and produced a much more costly environment for European road carriers whilst industrial action and a worsening driver shortage keep capacity tight. A range of indicators are pointing towards a drastic slowdown in consumption and production which will ease further increases while high costs keep rates elevated.”

Vincent Erard, IRU director of corporate services, added: “The driver shortage is one of the biggest challenges for the trucking industry at the moment, and its effects are likely to increase in the near future and continue to impact freight prices. The age distribution of drivers already gives a taste of what is to come, with 34 percent of drivers aged over 55 in Europe and young drivers under 25 representing only 7 percent. This trend will worsen if older drivers continue to retire, some of them earlier than expected, as during the Covid-19 pandemic, further reducing the pool of available drivers. All the actions and initiatives aimed at improving the attractiveness of the driving profession and removing the barriers to entry into the profession (cost of training, minimum age) will be decisive in the long term.”

As HLPFI reported in April, road freight rates already soared in the first quarter of this year, as the effects of inflation on the supply side of the European road freight market, especially on diesel prices, took hold.