Latest Industry News Briefs Courtesy of PMTA

December 2020

America’s Trucking Industry Answered the Call in 2020, Says ATA President Spear says Association is ‘Battle-Hardened’ and Well-Positioned to Tackle Issues Ahead

 Arlington, VA… American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear addressed the federation’s 2020 Management Conference, highlighting the industry’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and detailing ATA’s successful efforts to keep trucks moving throughout the national crisis.  

“While others in DC panicked, the ATA led, giving direction and certainty to our members when it mattered most,” Spear said in his annual State of the Industry address, citing ATA’s successful efforts in securing federal “essential” status for carriers and keeping facilities open for drivers—both of which were critical to maintaining the flow of interstate commerce while the county locked down.

“Our combined efforts have helped put America on a path to full recovery,” he said.

Spear said the challenges of 2020 have served to strengthen the ATA Federation, calling it “battle-hardened” as it looks to tackle a number of priority issues in the consequential year ahead. Among them, he said ATA will continue pursuing tort and legal reform, addressing the shortage of drivers and technicians and fighting for long-term funding for our national infrastructure.

“Our efforts this year on infrastructure produced a comprehensive bill in the House of Representatives--movement that paves way for passing comprehensive reform next year, regardless of who voters elect next week,” he said.

Success, Spear said, depends on funding that “cannot and will not be done via truck-only tolls,” emphasizing the paramount importance of ATA’s suit against Rhode Island to block the state’s truck-only toll scheme.

Spear also said expanding the industry’s workforce remains a top priority. This includes continued support for the Drive SAFE Act and the FMCSA pilot program for drivers under the age of 21, but also a new focus on expanded outreach to minority communities.

“2020 opened our eyes to the importance of diversity, and the trucking industry is no exception. To that end, ATA established a diversity working group in direct support of the Workforce Development Policy Committee,” he said. “This group will shine a brighter light on our efforts to expand urban hiring, including people of color and women; and, look at initiatives that increase the number of minorities in our executive ranks, including partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities.”

In closing, Spear said because of the the industry’s response to 2020’s challenges, it is “no surprise that America has awakened to the trucking industry.”

“Together, we inspire others. Together, we will win and grow. And we’ll always answer the call when our country needs us most. Trucking isn’t just the backbone of our economy – it’s the heartbeat of this nation,” he said.

ATA Truck Tonnage Index Jumped 6.7% in September Index 2.7% Below September 2019

 Arlington, VA… American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 6.7% in September after declining 5.3% in August. In September, the index equaled 115.1 (2015=100) compared with 107.9 in August.

“September had a nice recovery after a significant decline in August,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “The truck freight market continues to be bifurcated, with strength in retail and home construction, but some continued weakness in industrial freight. During the third quarter, truck tonnage increased 2.4% over the second quarter, but fell 5.3% from a year earlier.”  

August’s decrease was revised up to -5.3% from our September 22 press release.

Compared with September 2019, the SA index contracted 2.7%, the sixth straight year-over-year decline. Year-to-date, compared with the same period in 2019, tonnage is down 3.3%.

The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 112.4 in September, 0.7% below the August level (113.2). In calculating the index, 100 represents 2015. ATA’s For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index is dominated by contract freight as opposed to spot market freight. 

Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing 72.5% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 11.84 billion tons of freight in 2019. Motor carriers collected $791.7 billion, or 80.4% 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 5th day of each month. The report includes month-to-month and year-over-year results, relevant economic comparisons, and key financial indicators. 

CVSA Releases 2020 Brake Safety Week Results

  Greenbelt, MD… During this year’s Brake Safety Week, 12% of the 43,565 commercial motor vehicles inspected were placed out of service for brake-related violations. Inspectors from Canada, Mexico and the U.S. removed 5,156 commercial motor vehicles from roadways due to brake violations during the week-long inspection and enforcement event, focused specifically on reducing brake-related crashes by conducting inspections and identifying and removing unsafe commercial motor vehicles from roadways. 

Fifty-three jurisdictions participated in this year’s Brake Safety Week, which is a voluntary inspection, enforcement and outreach initiative. In light of the coronavirus pandemic, jurisdictions that elected to participate in Brake Safety Week, which took place Aug. 23-29, 2020, conducted inspections following each agency’s health and safety protocols and precautions in consideration of the health and well-being of inspectors and drivers.

Forty-five U.S. jurisdictions, seven Canadian jurisdictions and Mexico’s National Guard and the Ministry of Communications and Transportation provided data this year. In the U.S., 35,778 inspections were conducted; 4,565 vehicles (13%) were placed out of service for brake-related violations. In Mexico, 6% (355) of the 5,958 commercial motor vehicles inspected were placed out of service for brake-related violations. In Canada, 1,829 inspections were conducted, and the brake-related out-of-service rate was 14% (256). 

Commercial motor vehicle inspectors throughout North America use the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) North American Standard Out-of-Service Criteria to identify critical vehicle inspection item violations that are concerning enough to warrant removing that vehicle from traveling on roadways until those conditions have been repaired. 

Eighty-eight percent of the commercial motor vehicles inspected did not have brake-related critical vehicle inspection item violations. Vehicles that did not have any out-of-service conditions during a Level I or Level V Inspection may have received a CVSA decal. A decal, valid for up to three months, signifies that the vehicle was recently inspected by a CVSA-certified inspector and that vehicle had no critical vehicle inspection item violations. 

In addition to capturing brake system out-of-service violation data, during this year’s Brake Safety Week, inspectors also recorded and submitted data regarding the chafing of brake hoses. Inspectors reported levels of brake hose chafing violations, separated into five categories based on the level of severity; two of which were out-of-service conditions, three were not. 

A total of 6,697 hose chafing violations were reported in a separate data query from participating jurisdictions. Table 1 provides a reference key and details each category of chafing, along with the numeric totals for each category by country. Table 2 illustrates the frequency of each category of brake hose/tube chafing encountered by each country as a percentage of all hose chafing violations.

Table 1: Reported Brake Hose Chafing Violations by Severity.

FHWA Announces Support for Seven Innovations for a Nation on the Move

 WASHINGTON, DC…  The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) announced seven innovations it will support in the sixth round of its “Every Day Counts” (EDC-6) collaboration with state, local and tribal transportation agencies. The EDC program promotes the accelerated use of tools, technologies and methods nationwide to improve road and bridge projects, reduce cost and shorten their time to completion.

 “Every Day Counts is a key Department initiative that provides state, local, and Tribal transportation leaders with opportunities to learn about ready-to-deploy innovations that best fit their individual needs,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao. 

Since the creation of “Every Day Counts” in 2010, FHWA has worked with state, local and Tribal governments, as well as federal agencies to widen the use of dozens of innovations that lead to better roads, bridges and highways, reduced project delivery times and more cost-effective transportation improvements. Later this year, FHWA will hold three virtual summit meetings, focused on “People,” “Products,” and “Process,” to discuss the EDC-6 innovations in more detail.

 “This round of innovations has incredible potential to help agencies with limited resources deliver projects more effectively, improve safety, and support the nation’s economic recovery,” said Federal Highway Administrator Nicole R. Nason.

 The solicitation for EDC-6 ideas this year generated more than 100 suggestions and comments from stakeholders across the country. The seven innovations selected are:

 •Crowdsourcing to Advance Operations – Transportation agencies are increasing their situational awareness using crowdsourcing, which enables them to cost-effectively improve the real-time management of traveler information, traffic incidents, work zones, traffic signals and more. With crowdsourced data, agencies can capture in real time travel information from a wider array of sources than currently possible. The benefits of crowdsourced data include improved travel reliability, fewer crashes and other safety improvements, and a reduction in costs associated with installing and maintaining additional data-gathering road sensors.

•e-Ticketing and Digital As-Builts – State departments of transportation (DOTs) and other agencies use these methods to more efficiently gather, share and manage the massive amounts of data generated by a typical highway construction project. Converting paper-based systems for project materials tickets into electronic ones, known as “e-Ticketing,” improves the tracking, exchange and archiving of construction materials information. e-Ticketing also improves safety by reducing inspector and work crew interaction with traffic and construction equipment. More than a dozen state DOTs, including Minnesota, Missouri, and Pennsylvania, currently use e-Ticketing for construction contracts. Digital “as-builts” are modern project information models that capture data about utilities and other valuable construction information to support future operations, maintenance and asset management, and create a digital twin of an agency’s transportation system. State DOTs in Michigan and Colorado use digital as-builts to improve worker safety by identifying the exact locations of potentially dangerous underground utilities.

 •Virtual Public Involvement (VPI) – Soliciting public input during the transportation decision-making process helps to identify issues and concerns that can be addressed or modified early in the process. VPI allows state DOTs to do so more effectively by using technology platforms to increase the number and variety of methods for engaging the public, obtaining feedback and considering comments. For reasons related to the nation’s current health crisis, several states have begun to use VPI, and the Iowa Department of Transportation has gone further in developing a web-based tool tocompile public comments throughout all phases of project delivery.

 •Next-Generation Traffic Incident Management (NextGen TIM) – While crashes and other traffic incidents increase risk to first responders and the traveling public, they also contribute to most traffic delays. NextGen TIM helps state DOTs and other responder agencies improve their use of public safety computer-aided dispatch systems, unmanned aircraft systems, crowdsourced data and virtual TIM responder training. Leveraging NextGen TIM, law enforcement agencies such the sheriff’s offices in Maricopa County, Arizona, and Tippecanoe County, Indiana, as well as state DOTs in Oregon and Maryland, have reduced incident detection, road closures and overall incident clearance times by more than 30 percent. With this impressive new technology, local officials are improving responder and traveler safety. 

 •Strategic Workforce Development – Demand is high for highway workers who are adept at using technologies to transform design, construction and maintenance of transportation projects. FHWA supports the use of innovative new efforts to strategically develop the workforce new innovative strategies that help identify, train, and place individuals who make up a vital element in the nation’s essential workforce. From 2016-2018, FHWA partnered with the U.S. Labor Department’s Employment and Training Administration and others to conduct a 12-city pilot that explored how various industries can collaborate to improve recruitment, training and retention of highway workers. The effort led to “Identify, Train, Place,” a highway construction workforce development playbook that can help expand the highway contractor workforce. Similar efforts, like the Alabama Road Construction Training Course, the Denver WORKNOW Navigator Program and the Future Road Builders Gaming App, reflect the growing awareness of a need to expand a skilled highway workforce to meet the needs of the future.

 •Targeted Overlay Pavement Solutions – Agencies are getting the most out of operations in which new material is placed over an existing pavement structure by using data to target areas where limited maintenance resources can be used for maximum gain. Coupled with innovative materials and performance-enhancing methods that reduce the impact on traffic by construction, targeted overlay pavement solutions help state DOTs maximize their highway investments. For example, the Utah Department of Transportation applies stone-matrix asphalt as an overlay because of its proven durability and performance. 

•Ultra-High Performance Concrete (UHPC) for Bridge Preservation and Repair – Agencies have used UHPC for bridge construction for years, especially when connecting prefabricated bridge elements. Now, more state DOTs than ever are using UHPC on bridge preservation and repair projects because it offers superior strength and durability. It also provides innovative cost-effective solutions for improving and preserving bridge conditions. Between 2016-2019, state DOTs in Delaware and Florida repaired or strengthened more than 20 bridges using UHPC.

 More information on EDC can be found at

OOIDA’s Todd Spencer Named As One Of The Top 100 Transformers By Business Insider

 Washington, DC… The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association proudly announces that President and CEO Todd Spencer was recognized by national media outlet Business Insider. He was chosen as one of the Top 100 Transformers of the year. 

The Business Insider Top 100 list features individuals that are driving change and innovation in their industries and companies. As part of the selection process, Spencer was interviewed about his history as an owner-operator and his decades-long career with the Association. His leadership of OOIDA’s efforts during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic were particularly noted as a reason for the honor.

“He knew that professional truck drivers would need a great deal of support and that we needed to speak up soon and speak out strongly,” said director of public relations Norita Taylor. “When it came to the pandemic, it isn’t surprising that Todd parsed no words in the famous MAYDAY letter to the White House pleading for help.” 

Business Insider is an online business journal launched by Henry Blodget in 2007 covering business, finance, cultural affairs, media, technology and other related industry news. The Top 100 list has been published annually for two years.

Reminder On Federal Motor Carrier Medical Cards Moratorium

 The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has announced that it is unlikely to extend the moratorium on Medical Examination Certificate requirements for commercial drivers whose cancellation has been deferred until Oct. 31.

FMCSA put the waiver place in March to allow commercial driver license holders who are subject to federal rules to continue to hold commercial driving privileges with expired certificates. DMV is amending Oregon Administrative Rules to match the federal extension for all other CDL holders.

The Medical Examiner Certificates Emergency Condition Waivers are applied as follows:

•If a driver certifies a driving type of non-excepted interstate and their MEC expired on or after March 1, 2020, and before June 1, 2020, then the cancellation will be deferred until Oct. 31, 2020.

•If a driver certifies a driving type of non-excepted interstate and their MEC expires on or after June 1, 2020, and before Dec. 31, 2020, then the cancellation will be deferred until Dec. 31, 2020.

•If a driver certifies a driving type of non-excepted intrastate or excepted interstate and their MEC expired on or after March 1, 2020, and before Dec. 31, 2020, then the cancellation will be deferred until Dec. 31, 2020.

FMCSA has announced that it is unlikely that individuals whose cancellation has been deferred until Oct. 31, 2020, will receive an additional extension.

To Meet Demand and Avoid Shortage, Trucking Industry Looks to Train Younger Recruits—Teenagers

 St. Petersburg, FL… According to a study by the American Transportation Research Institute, the share of younger truck drivers has been decreasing, leaving the industry more reliant than ever on the 45- to 54-year-old age group.(1) John Kearney, CEO of Advanced Training Systems, notes this trend is exactly the opposite of what is needed. “It is urgent that we reverse the pattern and start attracting large numbers of capable, career-minded young people to one of the most important industries in the country. To help make that happen, our company is a founding sponsor of the Next Generation in Trucking Association whose mission is to bring awareness to an emerging career choice and to place advanced simulation training technology in the hands of young driving students around the country,” he says.

 In most states, the minimum age for obtaining a commercial driver’s license is 18. Kearney, whose company is a leading designer and manufacturer of virtual simulators for driver training, among other applications, notes that federal law currently prohibits drivers under 21 to drive in conjunction with interstate commerce, which means they cannot take a truckload across a state line. This, says Kearney, creates a major barrier to recruiting younger drivers. The two-thirds of Americans who do not have a college degree(2) tend to launch their careers straight out of high school, usually at age 18. By the time they reach 21, many of them—including, Kearney points out, the steadiest and most career-minded—are increasingly unlikely to enter a new field.

In response to this problem, in 2018, U.S. Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., and U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., co-sponsored the DRIVE-Safe Act, which would lower the interstate commercial trucking age to 18 nationally.(3) Meanwhile, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has announced a pilot program to allow drivers between 18 and 20 years old to operate commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce. FMCSA has requested comments from the public on the training, qualifications, driving limitations, and vehicle safety systems that FMCSA should consider in developing options or approaches for the program.(4)

Essential to the proper training of these new drivers, says Kearney, is virtual-reality simulation. Studies show a crash reduction rate of up to 35% for simulator-trained truck drivers; they also show that simulator training lowers overall training cost by accelerating students’ progress.(5)

 Judging from the comments received by FMCSA, public support for the pilot program appears to be strong. Of those opposed to it, notes Kearney, the majority tend to focus on the supposed immaturity and undependability of people 18 to 20 years old.(6) ATS, along with industry colleagues such as Women in Trucking, agrees that the solution to this potential problem is to vet prospects closely. The U.S. military, Kearney notes, selects from exactly this age group—and turns down 80% of those who apply.(7) They look for attitude and aptitude, he points out, and the trucking industry should do so as well.

 This, says Kearney, is a crucial moment for trucking, and for the next generation of truckers. It is also a time when the industry needs help. He advises young adults—and parents of young adults—looking for a career to take a look at trucking. Likewise, he notes, trucking companies looking for new workers should be reaching out to young people, including women. It is estimated that there are 50,000 fewer long- and short-haul truckers than are needed now, a total that, if nothing changes, could reach 160,000 by 2028.(8)

 “The trucking industry,” says Kearney, “is essential to the United States economy in the same way that the military is essential to its defense. To flourish, it needs a young generation of workers with the attitude, aptitude, and training to keep the supply chain flowing and the highways safe. At ATS, we’re proud of our role in preparing the next generation of American truckers.”

For more information, visit “In with the new: Trucking Adapts to Next Generation.” 

1. “US Census: Americans Are More Educated than Ever Before.” VOA, VOA - Voice of America English News, 29 Aug. 2018,
2. “DRIVE-Safe Act (2018 - H.R. 5358).”,
3. “FMCSA Proposes New Under-21 Commercial Driver Pilot Program.” FMCSA,
4. “FMCSA Moves Ahead with Under-21 Driver Pilot Program.”
5. Hirsch, Pierro. “Evidence of Driver Training Simulator Benefits.”
6. Ernst, Douglas. “No, Uncle Sam Doesn't Really Want YOU: Military Now Turns down 80% of Applicants.” The Washington Times, The Washington Times, 13 May 2014,
7. Long, Heather. “Analysis | America Has a Massive Truck Driver Shortage. Here's Why Few Want an $80,000 Job.” The Washington Post, 28 May 2018,

Trucking Praises DOL Proposal Clarifying Status of Independent Contractors

 Arlington, VA… The American Trucking Associations praised a proposed rule from the U.S. Department of Labor that would clarify the definition of employee under the Fair Labor Standards Act as it relates to independent contractors.
  “Secretary Scalia understands that many Americans choose the independent contractor model — including hundreds of thousands of owner-operators in the trucking industry — because it expands their opportunities to earn and empowers them to choose the hours and routes that suit their individual needs and lifestyle,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. “This proposal is about giving working Americans the freedom to pick the occupation and flexibility they desire, and we thank Secretary Scalia for putting it forward.”
In its announcement, DOL stated the proposed rule:

• Adopts an “economic reality” test to determine a worker’s status as an FLSA employee or an independent contractor. The test considers whether a worker is in business for himself or herself (independent contractor) or is economically dependent on a putative employer for work (employee);
• Identifies and explains two “core factors,” specifically the nature and degree of the worker’s control over the work, and the worker’s opportunity for profit or loss based on initiative and/or investment. These factors help determine if a worker is economically dependent on someone else’s business or is in business for himself or herself;
• Identifies three other factors that may serve as additional guideposts in the analysis: the amount of skill required for the work; the degree of permanence of the working relationship between the worker and the potential employer; and whether the work is part of an integrated unit of production; and
• Advises that the actual practice is more relevant than what may be contractually or theoretically possible in determining whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor.
This Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is currently available for review on the department's website, and public comments can be filed for 30 days once formally published in the Federal Register.

Two Pieces Of Pennsylvania Legislation Affecting Transportation Become Law

 The PMTA Legislative Committee wanted to bring your attention to 2 pieces of legislation signed by the Governor that could impact our industry as seen below:

10/29/20 -  Governor Wolf signed Senate Bill 995 into law as Act 103 of 2020.

 Senate Bill 995 (Laughlin-R) amends Title 75 (Vehicles) to increase the width of multipurpose agricultural vehicles.

* Specifically, it amends the definition of "multipurpose agricultural vehicle" to increase the width by four inches (from 62 to 66) to reflect the type of equipment that is now being manufactured.

* Pertinent definitions: Multipurpose Agricultural Vehicle: A motor vehicle which is used exclusively for agricultural operations and only incidentally operated or moved upon the highways.

* Effective date: 60 days.

* Passed Senate, 50-0, 6/9/2020 – Passed House, 202-0, 10/19/2020 – Signed into law as Act 103 of 2020, 10/29/2020 

10/29/20 - Governor Wolf signed House Bill 716 into law as Act 85 of 2020.

PA-HB  716 By Galloway. Amends the Administrative Code, in powers & duties of the Dept. of Labor & Industry, its departmental administrative & advisory boards & officers, for task force on misclassification of employees. - Approved by the Governor  (Act:   85)

* This legislation creates a Joint Task Force on Misclassification of Employees within the Department of Labor and Industry to investigate the practice of employee misclassification and to develop and implement a plan to reduce such practices. The duties of the task force include, but are not limited to, evaluating existing enforcement, reviewing existing law, developing a plan to educate employers and employees, and determining the amount of revenue lost due to misclassification. 

* Passed House, 198-0, 6/17/2019 – Passed Senate, 49-0, 10/21/2020

PMTA Legislative Committee will continue to monitor Act 85 as the Joint Task Force is created to assure that Owner Operators for Trucking Companies are not negatively impacted.