Latest Industry News Briefs Courtesy of PMTA

June 2018

Advanced Training Systems Analyzes: Teenage Truckers, Solution to Nation’s Shipping Woes?

St. Petersburg, FL… Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have proposed a way to ease America’s urgent shortage of long-haul truck drivers: allow certified teenage drivers to cross state lines in their 18-wheelers. DRIVE-Safe (Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy Act), from Reps. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) and Trey Hollingsworth (R-Ind.), would scrap a federal rule that bans drivers under 21 from transporting goods outside the state where they’re licensed, lowering the legal age to 18.1 “This legislation,” said John Kearney, CEO and President, Training Systems, “will help train drivers to a level far and above current licensing standards. It creates opportunity while reinforcing a culture of safety.”

Kearney, whose company is a leading designer and manufacturer of driver training simulators, among other applications, notes that his is not a universally held opinion. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), for example, while acknowledging the existence of a serious shortage of truck drivers—the U.S. trucking industry will need to hire almost 900,000 new operators over the next decade simply to maintain the current workforce2—has come out against the legislation. Todd Spencer, acting president of OOIDA, said, “We think it’s irresponsible to put young drivers behind the wheel of a truck in order to avoid addressing the real problems. The focus should instead be on fixing the staggering turnover rate with better pay and working conditions.”3

Safety groups have also slammed the plan, arguing that long-haul rides are riskier for drivers with less experience. Henry Jasny, vice president and general counsel for Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, a group that works to reduce highway accidents, said teenagers need more time to master 80,000-pound vehicles. His organization also insists that the presence of younger long-haul truckers on the highway will cause insurance costs to increase. “Younger drivers have higher crash rates,” Jasny said. “We have concerns about younger people who have less experience going from state to state, from rural to urban areas.”4

Major users of trucking services, however, have been virtually unanimous in praising the idea behind the DRIVE Safe Act, noting that the measure would require teenagers to log 400 hours of on-duty driving and 240 hours of working with an experienced driver in the passenger seat before being licensed to cross state lines. “This legislation,” said Mark Allen, president and CEO of the International Foodservice Distributors Association, “creates opportunity while reinforcing a culture of safety to provide our nation’s youth with the critical skills they need to operate a truck in the 21st century.”5

Trucking customer groups also argue that the mere fact of today’s driver shortage—which could be at least partially alleviated by opening a well-paid, worker-hungry career field to younger applicants—tends to aggravate some of the issues that organizations like the OOIDA are concerned about. Some retailers, like Walmart and Kroger, have begun fining suppliers for late deliveries. Kroger charges suppliers $500 per day for deliveries made past a two-day window while Walmart levels monthly fines against companies that are worth 3% of the value of each late or incomplete shipment. And, say retailers, they have little choice. According to the Food Marketing Institute, grocers lose $75 billion per year in sales—10% of the industry total—due to out-of-stocks and unsaleable goods, often the result of late deliveries.6

“The fleet owner’s organizations have real issues,” said Kearney. “There is burnout among drivers, and there is a lot of pressure being put on the trucking industry by shipping cost expectations. These issues need to be addressed and, to the extent possible, resolved. But there is also a severe driver shortage, there is unemployment among young people, and there is a distinct shortage of secure, well-paying jobs that don’t require a college degree.”

Advanced Training Systems has developed advanced simulation technology and training that can help train new operators—safely—to deal with any on-the-road situations they may encounter. That, coupled with the training and preparation specified in the DRIVE-Safe Act, can turn out a new generation of safe, professional, and much-needed drivers.

About Advanced Training Systems:

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

“Drive Safe Act Aims to Let CMV Drivers Cross State Lines Before Age 21,” Go By Truck Global News, March 23, 2018.

Raphelson, Samantha, “Trucking Industry Struggles With Growing Driver Shortage,” NPR, January 9, 2018.

“OOIDA says bill to open interstate trucking to younger drivers is unsafe,” Fleet Owner, April 19, 2018.

Paquette, Danielle, “Lawmakers: Let 18- to 21-year-olds drive 18-wheelers across the country,” Washington Post, March 27, 2018.

“Lawmakers Introduce DRIVE Safe Act,” Trucking, March 21, 2018.

Kincaid, Erika, “Trucker shortage means late deliveries and higher costs for food companies,” FoodDive, February 15, 2018.

ATA Thanks Congress for Affirming Federal Role in Highway Safety Rules

Arlington, VA… The American Trucking Associations thanked members of the House of Representatives for passing - in a bipartisan vote - an amendment to the FAA reauthorization bill that would prevent states from creating a patchwork of meal and rest rules for interstate truck drivers.

"Since our republic was founded, the federal government - not individual states like California - has had the power to regulate interstate commerce. Congress reaffirmed this for the trucking industry first in 1994 and again today by approving the Denham-Cuellar-Costa Amendment," said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. "Thanks to the leadership of Congressmen Denham, Cuellar and Costa for raising this critical issue, and to the bipartisan majority for affirming that the federal government has the last word on interstate safety rules."

The amendment would clarify Congress' intention to have primary regulatory authority over interstate commerce and end the erosion of this authority by states who impose meal and rest break rules that run counter to national uniformity. These unnecessary and duplicative laws are not grounded in safety, nor being enforced by the states. Rather, they are being used to fuel spurious litigation designed to extort the trucking industry, impairing the safe and efficient movement of interstate goods.

"Our industry's trucks routinely cross state lines to deliver America's food, fuel, medicine and other essential goods," said ATA Chairman Dave Manning, president of TCW Inc., Nashville, Tenn. "Today's vote is a key step in making sure the interstate supply chain continues to run safely and efficiently and without a hodgepodge of confusing and duplicative state rules. The entire trucking industry thanks Congressmen Denham, Cuellar and Costa for their leadership on this matter, and we urge the full Congress to quickly move to protect the federal government's authority to oversee highway safety."

The Denham-Cuellar-Costa Amendment was approved by a bipartisan 222-193 vote as part of the FAA reauthorization bill currently being debated by the House. ATA urges the House and Senate to quickly pass a bill - which includes this provision - on to the president for his signature.

ATA Truck Tonnage Index Decreased 1.1% in March - Tonnage Index 6.3% Higher than March 2017

Arlington, VA… American Trucking Associations' advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index declined 1.1% in March after easing 0.8% in February. In March, the index equaled 110 (2015=100), down from 111.2 in February.

ATA revised the February decline from the originally reported 2.6% to 0.8%.

Compared with March 2017, the SA index jumped 6.3%, which was below February's 7.7% year-over-year gain, but still well above 2017's annual increase. For all of 2017, the index increased 3.8% over 2016. In the first quarter of this year, tonnage rose 0.9% and 7.4% from the previous quarter and a year earlier, respectively.

The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 114.6 in March, which was 12.9% above the previous month (101.5).

"Despite a softer March and February, truck freight tonnage remains solid as exhibited in the year-over-year increase of 6.3%," said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. "While I expect the pace of growth to continue moderating in the months ahead, if for no other reason than year-over-year comparisons will become more difficult as tonnage snapped back in May of 2017, the levels of freight will remain good going forward."

Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing 70.6% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled nearly 10.5 billion tons of freight in 2016. Motor carriers collected $676.2 billion, or 79.8% 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.

CTA: No Reason for US to Scrutinize Truckers at Border Post-Legalization of Cannabis

CTA representatives appeared this week before the Committee on National Security and Defence on Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act, to discuss the potential impacts legalizations will have on the Canada-US border.

Bill C-45, dealing with the legalization of cannabis, is now being examined in five separate Senate committees and has raised concerns over how legalization will impact border security and processing.

Jonathan Blackham, Director of Policy and Public Affairs, and Lak Shoan, Director Policy and Industry Awareness Programs sent a clear message to legislators – there is no reason, post-legalization, for US CBP to slow down or pay special attention to commercial vehicles and drivers crossing the US border.

To date, much of the conversation has focused on passenger vehicles and the potential for US border officials to step up enforcement after cannabis is legalized in Canada. Concerns are also emerging over what might happen to those who admit to using cannabis to US border officials, even after it is legal in Canada. These issues have extended to commercial vehicles crossing the border, with a general concern that legalization may lead to a ‘thickening’ of the border and increased crossing times for all vehicles.

As Blackham explained to the Committee, Canadian commercial vehicle drivers operating in the U.S. are already governed by strict rules set up by the US Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) when it comes to drug and alcohol use, of which cannabis is listed substance. As a result, the legal status of cannabis in Canada – one way or another – would have little impact on commercial vehicle drivers crossing the border as they already comply with US regulations clearly listing cannabis as a Schedule 1 substance.

However, as Blackham noted, even if it’s business as usual for commercial vehicles, increased delays at the border for passenger vehicles could still spillover and eventually impact access for trucks to the commercial lanes. As a result, if there is an expectation more vehicles will be sent to secondary inspection, there needs to be a plan in place to ensure this doesn’t result in long delays that extend throughout the border queue, added Blackham.

“Anything that negatively impacts, slows down or restricts access to the U.S. market for Canadian carriers will ultimately flow through in its consequences to the wider Canadian economy,” he told the Committee.

CTA has already sent correspondence to US CBP emphasizing the legalization of cannabis doesn’t change anything for Canadian commercial drivers attempting to enter the US and therefore commercial vehicles at the border shouldn’t be slowed down because of any concerns border officials may have about legalization’s effect on the general motoring public.

Rhode Island Drivers To Go Hands-Free On June 1

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) and the Rhode Island State Police joined with federal and state leaders today to highlight the upcoming new hands-free law in Rhode Island. The law takes effect on June 1 and prohibits a driver from using a hand-held wireless communication device while driving.

At a press conference today at AAA Northeast's Providence headquarters, officials discussed the many benefits of the new law. Distracted driving caused by use of personal electronic devices is a growing problem, leading to needless deaths and serious injuries.

The new hands-free law was sponsored by Senator V. Susan Sosnowski and Representative Kathleen A. Fogarty. According to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report in 2015, distracted driving claimed nearly 3,500 lives with nearly 400,000 people seriously injured in these crashes.

"Many of us have grown accustomed to using mobile devices in almost every aspect of our lives, including in our cars and trucks. This is especially true for our younger population, which grew up with this kind of technology embedded in their daily lives," said Senator Sosnowski. "It's important not to forget that every time we step into a vehicle, we are taking our lives and the lives of others into our own hands. Distracted driving is extremely dangerous."

"Our children are especially vulnerable to distracted driving. According to a 2011 report from the U.S. Department of Transportation, 10 percent of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported to be 'distracted' at the time of the crash," said Representative Kathleen Fogarty. "Senator Sosnowski and I are proud to have sponsored this legislation and are gratified to see it going into effect."

"Like so many other types of crashes we see, those involving drivers distracted by their cell phones are preventable," RIDOT Director Peter Alviti Jr. said. "We will continue to work with our partners to educate the public about safe driving behaviors."

The new law allows drivers to use an in-car or other hands-free system or accessory, such as Bluetooth. If a police officer observes someone holding a phone while driving, her or she will be pulled over and may be fined up to $100. The offense may be waived for first offenders only by showing proof of purchase of a hands-free device before the fine is due.

The law does not include any provisions for minors, who already are not allowed to use a cell phone while driving - not even with a hands-free device. The law also does not supersede Rhode Island's no-texting law.

"With education and enforcement, there's no question this new hands-free law will save lives," said Colonel Ann C. Assumpico, Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police and Director of the Department of Public Safety. "We will do our part to ensure motorists understand and abide by the new law, which will make our roads safer for everyone."

At the event today, a variety of hands-free devices were shown and discussed. Many newer cars have features already built in, and Bluetooth devices are widely available at retail stores and online. Those having difficulty with pairing their phones should seek advice from the car or electronics retailer where they purchased the devices.

"Ground-breaking research by AAA's Foundation for Traffic Safety has highlighted the dangers of manual, visual and cognitive distraction while operating a motor vehicle," says John Galvin, AAA Northeast president and CEO. "We are proud to have supported the efforts of the Governor and the General Assembly in passing a common-sense hands-free law that will reduce crash risk and make all motorists safer on Rhode Island's roadways."

Additional information can be found online on RIDOT's website at

Truckers Say Plenty Of Drivers Out There, No Need To Lower CDL Age Restriction

Grain Valley, MO… The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, a national association that represents small-business truckers, says that concerns about a driver shortage are largely myth and actually more about high turnover in one sector of the industry.

They have signed a petition along with other industry stakeholders in opposition to proposals to lower the age requirement for obtaining an interstate commercial drivers license. OOIDA also points to these to support the fact there are plenty of drivers for any future supply needed.

The letter brings up a previous failed attempt to lower the age to 18 in the year 2001.

“This has been tried before and no one with any common sense thought it was a good idea,” said Spencer. “Nothing has changed since that time and no disruptions have ever taken place due to any perceived shortage of drivers. These latest efforts are just more ways to keep driver churn going and keep wages as low as possible.”

The letter was sent to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and was also signed by a long list of diverse groups.

An opening statement in the letter said “As the nation’s leading organizations and associations representing public health, consumers, safety and American truckers, we are certain these efforts would not only be detrimental to road safety, but also to those seeking to enter the trucking industry as professional drivers.”

The groups are opposed to two specific legislative proposals which would allow teenagers to drive large trucks. The bills are H.R. 5358, the Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy (DRIVE-Safe) Act and H.R. 3889, the Waiving Hindrances to Economic Enterprise and Labor (WHEEL) Act.

Among other statistics and concerns, the letter points out that intrastate CMV drivers under the age of 19 are four times more likely to be involved in fatal crashes, and CMV drivers who are 19-20 years of age are six times more likely to be involved in fatal crashes.

“We think it’s irresponsible to put young kids behind the wheel of a truck in order to avoid addressing the real problems of high turnover,” said Todd Spencer, acting president of OOIDA. “The focus should instead be on fixing the staggering turnover rate with better pay and working conditions.”