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Latest Industry News Briefs Courtesy of PMTA

February, 2019

Court Ruling: Truck Drivers Must Be Paid for All Hours on Duty

St. Petersburg, FL… In October, the U.S. District Court in the Western Division of Arkansas ruled that truck drivers should receive at least minimum wage for their work time. While drivers who are paid by the mile may continue to be paid in that fashion, their overall pay, according to the ruling, must meet the federal requirement for minimum wage.1 “Truck drivers,” says John Kearney, CEO, Advanced Training Systems LLC, “have historically had to deal with delays beyond their control that detract from their productive over-the-road hours.” Kearney, whose company is a leading designer and manufacturer of virtual simulators and driver training on them, adds, “If we push to attract drivers who will choose this as a profession, total compensation which depends on miles driven is the overall key to attracting and keeping drivers.”

And future drivers, Kearney notes, are urgently needed. According to the American Trucking Association (ATA), about 51,000 more drivers are needed than are available to meet demand from direct-to-consumer retailers like Amazon and Walmart. The driver shortage is already leading to delayed deliveries and higher prices, and the ATA predicts that the driver shortage will worsen in the coming years.2

A complicating factor in establishing truckers’ salaries is that most truck drivers are paid not by the hour but by the mile. The average driver is expected to travel between 2,000 and 3,000 miles per week; according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a majority of trucking companies pay between $0.28 and $0.40 per mile3 at 2016 rates. At the low end, on a 70-hour week, this would net out to $8.00 per hour. At the high end, it would yield $17 per hour—both above the federal minimum wage of $7.50 per hour. During the last two years average annual compensation has risen dramatically as a result of the shortage of drivers and the average annual compensation can often reach the level of $45,000 to over $50,000 according to Kearney. 

Compensation problems arise when drivers are forced to spend excessive amounts of time sitting out bad weather or in detention, i.e. waiting at a dock for a shipper to finish loading and release the shipment. This waiting time, for which not all drivers are paid, counts against the maximum 10 hours per day that, by federal safety regulations, drivers are allowed to be on duty whether moving or not.

Some industry observers see a partial solution in the recent mandate that truckers use an electronic logging device (EDT) to track their total hours of service, including detention time, rather than the paper logbooks that were heretofore employed.5 The existence of this electronic record, Kearney notes, has reduced a tendency on the part of shippers to understate the amount of detention time they require of their carriers.

“Truck driving is—and should be—a solid, well-paid occupation,” says Kearney. “Long-haul truckers are essential to commerce in this country and help support the nation’s economic well-being. Better control of detention and greater awareness of attracting people to this profession—and retaining them—should quickly make the issue of minimum-wage regulations irrelevant. As to payment methods, the best course is to pay drivers for miles traveled and also for waiting time.”

About Advanced Training Systems LLC:

Advanced Training Systems (ATS) is a high-tech simulator technology and engineering firm that has revolutionized the design and manufacture of advanced training systems to improve training and create safer drivers. ATS, the holder of multiple patents in high-tech training simulation, has as its mission to provide this cutting-edge adaptive training to all involved in the transportation industry at an affordable cost, resulting in safer drivers/operators. For more information, visit www.atstrainingsystems.com

Kahaner, Larry, “Court: Drivers entitled to a minimum wage for time,” American Trucker, December 3, 2018.

1. Long, Heather, “America has a massive truck driver shortage. Here’s why few want an $80,000 job,” Washington Post, May 28, 2018.

2. “Truck Driving Per Mile Salary,” www.alltrucking.com, 2016.

3. Boblett, Chad, “Detention Policies Need to Change in 2018,” DAT blogpost, January 29, 2018.

4. “ELD Implementation,” U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, June 21, 2018.

 

ATA Applauds DOT for Common Sense Trucking Safety Ruling

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Arlington, VA… The American Trucking Associations commended Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao for granting the Federation’s petition to pre-empt confusing and duplicative state rest break rules, asserting the federal government’s critical role in regulating interstate commerce.

“This is a victory for highway safety, not trial lawyers,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. “The trucking industry supports our nation’s economic growth by safely and efficiently moving goods across state lines, and this decision by the Department of Transportation will save jobs, unburden businesses throughout the supply chain and keep the prices Americans pay for food, clothing and countless other essential items affordable and accessible.”

In late September, ATA petitioned DOT to pre-empt meal-and-rest break rules imposed by California, but primarily enforced via private lawsuits against motor carriers, on the grounds that a patchwork of rules related to driver hours of service harms safety, is in conflict with federal rules and causes “an unreasonable burden on interstate commerce.”

“We were forced to ask DOT and the Secretary for this important, common sense solution because congressional dysfunction and gridlock prevented Congress from reasserting itself – as it had in 1994 – as the primary arbiter of interstate commerce, despite bipartisan, bicameral support,” Spear said. “We hope today’s ruling will once and for all underscore the importance of a single, national standard for work and safety rules for professional drivers.”

“For fleets like mine, knowing the rules will be the same for my drivers regardless of what state they’re delivering to is important,” said ATA Chairman Barry Pottle, president and CEO of Pottle’s Transportation. “I’d like to thank Secretary Chao for taking this step to make our highways safer by simplifying the lives and schedules of America’s truck drivers, but also recognize the efforts and persistence of the ATA staff who successfully built bipartisan consensus around solving this issue for carriers across the country.”

“As a driver, being safe and well-rested is my primary concern,” said Derrick Whittle, a professional driver with Cargo Transporters Inc., “and having a single set of rules to follow whether I’m in California or Colorado makes it easier for me to do my job.” 

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.


ATA Truck Tonnage Index Rose 0.4% in November - Tonnage Index 7.6% Higher than November 2017

 

Arlington, VA… American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 0.4% in November to 118.9 from October’s level of 118.4.

“The fact that tonnage rose in November after a strong October is impressive. It was likely due to some continued pull forward of shipments from China due to the threat of higher tariffs, as well as solid retail sales last month,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “With continued strength in November, tonnage growth is on pace to be the best year since 1998.”

October’s change over the previous month was revised down to +5% (+6.3% was originally reported in our press release on November 20).

Compared with November 2017, the SA index increased 7.6%, down slightly from October’s 8.1% year-over-year increase. Year-to-date, compared with the same period last year, tonnage increased 7.2%.

The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 119 in November, which was 3.1% below the previous month (122.8). 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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Truckers Take Action Against Indiana’s Excessive And Discriminatory Tolls

 

Grain Valley, MO… The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association filed a lawsuit against the Indiana Finance Authority, the Indiana Toll Road Concession Company, the Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Transportation and Governor Eric Holcomb. 

The class action complaint, filed in Federal District Court in Indianapolis, challenges the 35 percent increase in tolls imposed on drivers of heavy vehicles travelling the Indiana Toll Road that was implemented on October 5, 2018. The increase was intended to raise $1 billion for Indiana’s “Next Level Connections Program.” 

OOIDA says the measure is burdensome, discriminatory and violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Back in October, OOIDA had sent a letter to the governor expressing objections to the plan.

OOIDA’s lawsuit says the tolls imposed by the ITRCC are not only excessive but are also used to subsidize services and facilities provided by the state that have no functional relationship to the Indiana Toll Road. 

“The governor has admitted publicly that the increased tolls on truckers were intended for out-of-state users,” said Todd Spencer, president of OOIDA. “He seems to think that, in his own words, ‘capturing other people’s money’ is okay. He would be very wrong about that. Truckers are not rolling piggy banks.”

“Indiana’s failure to solve the state’s history of serious financial problems and bad decisions should not fall upon the shoulders of truckers,” said Spencer. 

OOIDA seeks an injunction to stop further imposition of the toll increase along with refunds of excessive tolls paid since October 2018. 

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is the only national trade association representing the interests of small-business trucking professionals and professional truck drivers. The Association currently has more than 160,000 members nationwide. OOIDA was established in 1973 and is headquartered in the Greater Kansas City, Mo., area.

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