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Latest Industry News Briefs Courtesy of PMTA

March, 2019

ATA Backs President Trump’s Calls for Infrastructure and Trade Action - Trucking Calls on Congress to Act on USMCA and Highway Trust Fun 

Arlington, VA… Following the recent State of the Union address, American Trucking Associations’ President and CEO Chris Spear applauded President Donald Trump for his proactive calls to address the nation’s aging infrastructure and modernize our trade relationships with our North American neighbors.

“Tonight President Trump called for a national, bipartisan effort to restore our country’s declining infrastructure — and America’s truckers are answering that call,” Spear said. “A win on this issue will require real investment, not budgetary gimmicks as tried in years past. That is why America’s truckers, along with a broad coalition of the business community, have pledged our financial commitment to making this national priority a reality.

“Decades of failed leadership in Washington have led us to this point, which is why we commend the President for seizing this opportunity to bring all sides together to forge a common path forward. Restoring our national infrastructure to greatness will further ignite our economy, make us more competitive abroad, and give Americans more time to spend with family and less time stuck in traffic.”

Spear continued to urge Congress to move quickly on the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

“Trucking and trade are synonymous. Trucks move $720 billion worth of goods annually across our borders with Canada and Mexico, and cross-border trucking activity supports more than 47,000 jobs in the United States,” he said. “Any significant disruption to those trading relationships would have serious consequences for trucking and the economy, so we join President Trump in his call for Congress to quickly ratify the USMCA trade agreement.” 

American Trucking Associations is the largest national trade association for the trucking industry. Through a federation of 50 affiliated state trucking associations and industry-related conferences and councils, ATA is the voice of the industry America depends on most to move our nation’s freight. Follow ATA on Twitter or on Facebook.Trucking Moves America Forward.


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ATA President Urges Congress to Move Forward on Needed Highway Funding

Arlington, VA… American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear testified before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee about the urgent need to address the nation’s failing infrastructure, pressing the committee to put forward a real solution that includes new revenues.

“Just last week, chunks of falling concrete struck cars traveling under bridges in California and Massachusetts,” Spear said. “We are no longer facing a future highway maintenance crisis – we’re living it – and every day we fail to invest, we’re putting more lives at risk.”

The nation’s crumbling and failing infrastructure is taking a tremendous toll on Americans’ time and their pocketbooks, and has impacted the trucking industry in a significant way.

“Trucking now loses $74.5 billion sitting in gridlock. That equates to 1.2 billion lost hours or 425,000 truck drivers sitting idle for an entire year,” he said. “These are the regressive costs of doing nothing. And they are reflected in the prices we all pay. These costs to consumers and economy are measurable… and they can and should serve as offsets for new spending on our nation’s infrastructure.”

To address the nation’s need to re-invest in its roads and bridges, Spear again pushed forward the Build America Fund – a 20-cent per gallon fee at the terminal fuel rack phased in over four years that would generate billions in new revenues for investment.

“Trucking pays for nearly half the Highway Trust Fund, and we’re willing to pay more,” he said. “The Build America Fund would increase the price of fuel 20 cents per gallon at the fuel rack – just a nickel a year over four years – generating $340 billion over 10 years. This new revenue is real, not fake funding like P3’s and asset recycling.

“The Build America Fund is the most conservative proposal… costing less than .01 cent on the dollar to administer, versus up to .35 cents a dollar for tolling schemes,” Spear said.


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ATA Truck Tonnage Index Increased 6.6% in 2018 

Arlington, VA… American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 6.6% in all of 2018 – the largest annual gain since 1998 (10.1%) and significantly better than the 3.8% increase in 2017.

That annual gain was realized despite a decrease of 4.3% in December to 111.9, down from November’s level of 116.9.

“The good news is that 2018 was a banner year for truck tonnage, witnessing the largest annual increase we’ve seen in two decades,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “With that said, there is evidence that the industry and economy is moderating as tonnage fell a combined total of 5.6% in October and November after hitting an all-time high in October.”

November’s change over the previous month was revised down to -1.3% (+0.4% was originally reported in our press release on December 18).

Compared with December 2017, the SA index increased 1.4%, the smallest year-over-year increase in 2018. In November, the index was 5.8% above the same month in 2017.

The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 107.8 in December, which was 7.8% below the previous month (117). In calculating the index, 100 represents 2015.

Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing 70.2% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 10.77 billion tons of freight in 2017. Motor carriers collected $700.1 billion, or 79.3% of total revenue earned by all transport modes.

ATA calculates the tonnage index based on surveys from its membership and has been doing so since the 1970s. This is a preliminary figure and subject to change in the final report issued around the 10th day of the month. The report includes month-to-month and year-over-year results, relevant economic comparisons and key financial indicators. 


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Small-Business Truckers Respond To Senate Hearing On Infrastructure

Among the many issues raised at a hearing held by the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, two caught the attention of small-business truckers. One was connected directly to infrastructure and one was not, but both are closely related to highway safety.

Truck parking and CDL requirements were brought up during the “America’s Infrastructure Needs: Keeping Pace with a Growing Economy” hearing, both of which the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and its members have an interest.

“We appreciate some of the witnesses highlighting the truck parking crisis,” said Todd Spencer, OOIDA President. “For too long, Congress and federal transportation agencies have done very little to address this issue. Truckers need more safe places to park, not more studies that do nothing to increase or preserve capacity. This is a critical highway safety issue that deserves dedicated federal funding.”

Regarding another issue brought up during the hearing, OOIDA expressed objection. The American Trucking Associations said that in order to address a driver “shortage,” that the age requirement to obtain a commercial driver’s license should be lowered from 21 to 18.

“If safety is the top priority when considering a change to a regulation, when it comes to age, the number should be raised, not lowered!” said Spencer. “We also disagree that there is a driver shortage. There is very high turnover, or churn, but no shortage.”

OOIDA has long opposed efforts to lower the age for driving a large truck and refers to the claims of a driver shortage as mainly mythical. OOIDA also contends that any issue with retention could be mitigated with other solutions that would be safer for all highway users. For example, compensation has been shown to be tied directly to highway safety, as revealed in a study by Michael Belzer, an economics professor at Wayne State University. His study suggests there is a strong correlation between truck pay and highway safety.

“Most carriers with high turnover do so by design,” said Spencer. “They could deal with driver turnover by offering better wages and benefits and improved working conditions. But putting younger drivers behind the wheel of a truck isn’t the solution because it does nothing to address the underlying issues that push drivers out of the industry. It merely exacerbates the churn.” 


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Oregon DMV Seeks Qualified Providers For Commercial Driver Testing

SALEM ,OR… Oregon DMV is looking for new skills test providers for commercial driver licensing across the state.

DMV encourages businesses and organizations that can provide CDL skills tests to apply with the Oregon Department of Transportation for the CDL Third Party Testing Program.

Once ODOT awards providers with a contract in this program, they will be authorized to administer CDL skills tests on behalf of DMV.

In the next few months, DMV will post a Request for Proposal (RFP) for these services on the OregonProcurement Information Network (ORPIN). Any entities wishing to submit a proposal response must be registered on ORPIN in order to do so. Registration is free.

If you are interested and want to find out if you are qualified, the applicable federal regulations can be found here. There will be additional qualification requirements, which will be stated in the forthcoming RFP.

Federal regulations provide a foundation for what is required of CDL third-party testing businesses.

If you are new to Oregon public procurement, or would like training or assistance with how to successfully compete in the government marketplace, the GovernmentContract Assistance Program has free tools available.

Prior to the posting of the RFP, if you have questions related to the CDL program, its regulations, or the process by which you can become a third-party tester, contact the DMV Third Party Programs Team by phone at (503) 945-5118, or by email at Nick.g.hopper@odot.state.or.us

Once the RFP has been posted in OPRIN, all questions must be directed to the single point of contact, Stephanie Lehman. Stephanie can be reached by email at Stephanie.k.lehman@odot.state.or.us

Teamsters Challenge DOT Preemption Of California’s Meal And Rest Break Rules

WASHINGTON… THE International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Teamsters Local 848 and truck drivers for global companies have filed suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, challenging the Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s decision to preempt California’s meal and rest break guarantees for workers.

The petition filed today requests that the court reverse the Department of Transportation (DOT)’s decision in its entirety due to the adverse impact it would have on thousands of workers and highway safety in California.

In addition to the International Brotherhood of Teamsters headquartered in Washington, D.C., and Teamsters Local 848 in Long Beach, Calif., and truck drivers for Sysco Corporation, NFI Industries, XPO Logistics and Pac 9 Transportation signed on as petitioners.

Teamsters Local 2785 in San Francisco previously filed a petition for review with the Ninth Circuit, seeking a reversal of the DOT’s ruling.

The DOT decision would preempt California law which provides truck drivers with a 10-minute rest break after four hours of driving and a 30-minute meal break after five hours.

“We are standing united in opposition to this decision. Highway safety for Teamster members and the public must never be put at risk just so that transportation corporations can eke out a little more profit,” said Jim Hoffa, Teamsters General President.

Teamsters Local 848 represents about 7,200 workers in Southern California, many of whom are commercial truck drivers whose meal and rest breaks could be impacted.

“A safe driver is a driver who can take 10 minutes off after four hours of driving, and who can have something to eat during a long work day,” said Eric Tate, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 848. “The industry would rather see drivers never take a break or attempt to eat while driving; this will cause accidents major and minor. California has held a higher standard for years and it shouldn’t be taken away.”

“Truck drivers keep our economy running. I deliver food to hospitals and schools, loading and unloading up to 40,000 pounds in a single run. California's meal and rest break laws protect drivers like me from drowsy driving and injury, and keep our roads safe. That's why I am joining other drivers as a petitioner and asking the court to reverse the DOT's decision,” said Charles “Lucky” Lepins, a member of Local 848 at Sysco.

Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.


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Turnover Rate at Large Truckload Carriers Falls in Third Quarter - Drop Erases Yearlong Increase in Churn Rate 

Arlington, VA… American Trucking Associations Chief Economist Bob Costello said the turnover rate at large truckload carriers fell 11 percentage points in the third quarter, undoing two quarters worth of increases in the annualized churn rate.

The turnover rate fell 11 percentage points – dropping it to 87%, marking its lowest point since the first quarter of 2017 when it stood at 74%. The drop also reverses two consecutive quarters of increases in the turnover rate, which had driven up the churn rate as high as 98% – 10 points higher than at the end of 2017.

“The drop in turnover can be potentially explained in a few ways,” Costello said. “First, large pay increases fleets have been offering appear to be working, and drivers are remaining with their current carrier. Second, we did see a softening of freight markets in the third quarter from the incredibly strong pace it had set earlier in the year. Historically, softer freight volumes lead to lower driver turnover.”

Also in the third quarter, the turnover rate at small carriers – fleets with less than $30 million in annual revenue – remained unchanged at 72%, and the churn rate at less-than-truckload carriers fell four percentage points to 10%. 


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U.S. Department of Transportation Announces $705.7 Million in Emergency Relief for Road and Bridge Repairs

WASHINGTON, DC… The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) today announced more than $705.7 million in Emergency Relief (ER) funds to help 34 states, as well as American Samoa, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, make repairs to roads and bridges damaged by storms, floods, and other unexpected events.

“The Department is pleased to reimburse states and territories that have made critical repairs to their transportation infrastructure following natural disasters such as wildfires, storms, and floods,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao.

FHWA’s ER program reimburses states, territories, and federal land management agencies for eligible expenses associated with damage from natural disasters or other emergency situations. The funds help to pay for the reconstruction or replacement of damaged highways and bridges along with the arrangement of detours and replacement of guardrails or other damaged safety devices.

More than a fifth of the total amount provided today – about $153 million – will be used to pay for repairs to damage caused by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. There are also funds directed towards other severe weather recovery efforts, including the wildfires in California.

This Emergency Relief funding includes awards of:

•More than $12.5 million to repair damage to roads and bridges from wildfires in California in 2018.

•$1.2 million to repair US Highway 550 Red Mountain Pass in southwest Colorado, after it sustained damaged from a rock slide.

•$19.5 million to repair damage caused by Hurricane Michael’s heavy winds and significant storm surge flooding roadways throughout the Panhandle area.

“These funds will help keep our country’s roads and bridges safe and well-maintained in the aftermath of the hurricanes and other severe storms seen in recent years,” said Deputy Federal Highway Administrator Brandye L. Hendrickson.

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