Breakthrough’s Research Reveals Extreme Weather Is the Top Challenge for Transportation Professionals in 2024

| April 3, 2024

Shippers and carriers are prioritizing climate change, sustainability and new partnerships while capacity is favorable, Breakthrough’s 2024 State of Transportation report finds

Volatile weather is impacting transportation, according to the second annual State of Transportation report released by Breakthrough, a leading provider of sustainable fuel and freight solutions for shippers. The study unpacks how transportation leaders, including shippers and carriers, have shifted their priorities over the last 12 months against a backdrop of extreme climate events, geopolitical conflict, and heightened regulatory requirements.

Both shippers and carriers named extreme weather events the top transportation challenge for 2024 amid an ongoing drought in the Panama Canal, intensified winter weather, and a highly active hurricane season. On top of climate-related disruptions, climate change is pushing sustainability to the top of the agenda for both shippers and carriers.

While EVs were a priority for emissions reduction last year, infrastructure hurdles and uncertainty around legislative priorities mean this year only 13% of carriers have added them to their fleets. This is compared to the 59% that had plans to do so by the end of 2023. With these hurdles and uncertainty holding back progress, shippers and carriers are hoping to make progress on their sustainability goals by prioritizing:

  • Route and alternative energy optimization: Half (50%) of shippers are focused on evaluating the potential emissions impact of alternative energies. While a little under half of shippers are also optimizing routes and energy sources by lane – 43% plan to minimize the distance traveled and 42% plan to assess the cost and availability of transitioning select lanes to alternative energy.
  • Fleet performance: 46% of carriers plan to implement fuel-efficient technologies in their vehicles, while 45% are planning for regular vehicle maintenance to optimize vehicle performance.

“Shippers and carriers continue to face a myriad of disruptions. Last year, transportation professionals were focused on reducing costs as a means to overcome volatile diesel prices. This year, sustainability and climate-related disruptions are driving the need for fuel efficiency and changes to transportation strategy,” said Jenny Vander Zanden, chief operating officer at Breakthrough. “A majority of shippers have set sustainability targets and we’re seeing them take a more holistic approach. Shippers are looking for sustainable capacity and optimized routes and energy usage to make meaningful progress on emissions reduction.”

Eighty percent of transportation leaders expect capacity to tighten and rates to increase this year. Since mergers between major carriers have shifted available capacity, shippers are focused on reinforcing their networks while the market is favorable to prepare for continued geopolitical challenges, anticipated sustainability policies, and the upcoming U.S. presidential election. As a result, 51% of transportation leaders are focused on establishing relationships with new partners to increase efficiencies this year – a shift from last year’s priority of bolstering existing partnerships.

Breakthrough projects capacity to remain relatively abundant through the end of 2024. However, market disruptions are becoming more difficult to predict, which means resilient networks will be critical in 2024.

Breakthrough surveyed 500 transportation leaders, including carriers and shippers, across the United States about their goals, priorities and predictions for 2024. To see the complete findings from Breakthrough’s State of Transportation report, visit

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