Latest Industry News Briefs Courtesy of PMTA

February 2021

Truckload Turnover Rises in Third Quarter

 Arlington, VA…  The annualized turnover rate at both large and small truckload carriers rose by double digit percentage points in the third quarter as the industry began bouncing back from a COVID-19 induced slump.

“After a calamitous second quarter, trucking – along with the rest of the economy – began recovering in the third quarter, leading to a tightening of the driver market,” said American Trucking Associations Chief Economist Bob Costello. “With a more robust freight market, we saw an increase in carriers seeking drivers, which led to increased turnover. Additionally, the driver pool has decreased this year for a host of reasons, including fewer new drivers coming into the industry as truck driver training schools train less drivers due to social distancing requirements.”

In the third quarter, the turnover rate at truckload carriers with more than $30 million in annual revenue rose 10 percentage points to 92% on an annualized basis. The rate at smaller truckload carriers rose 14 points to 74%. Despite the increases, the 2020 average turnover rate is still running behind 2019.

“Ironically, turnover bouncing back is a good sign for the economy and for trucking,” Costello said. “The second-quarter drop was almost entirely the result of COVID, and with scientific light at the end of the tunnel, it is possible we will see continued strong freight demand into 2021, and corresponding increases in demand for truck drivers. And, driver pay continues to rise as competition for drivers is intense.”

The annualized turnover rate at less-than-truckload carriers was rose two points to 14% during the third quarter on an annualized basis.

PennDOT Extends Expiration Dates on CDLs, CLPs

 Harrisburg, PA… The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) announced that expiration dates for commercial driver licenses and commercial learner's permits will be extended for Pennsylvania residents in response to statewide COVID-19 mitigation efforts.

The following products' expiration dates will be extended: 

* The expiration date for a commercial learner's permit scheduled to expire from March 16, 2020, through February 22, 2021, is extended through February 22, 2021.

* The expiration date for commercial driver licenses scheduled to expire from March 16, 2020, through February 22, 2021, is extended through February 22, 2021.

Expiration extension deadlines on non-commercial driver license, photo identification cards, learner's permits and camera cards ended on August 31, 2020. 

For a list of open driver license and photo license centers and the services provided, as well as their hours of operation, please visit   

Customers may continue to complete various transactions and access multiple resources online at Driver and vehicle online services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and include driver's license, photo ID and vehicle registration renewals; driver-history services; changes of address; driver license and vehicle registration restoration letters; ability to pay driver license or vehicle insurance restoration fee; driver license and photo ID duplicates; and schedule a driver's exam. There are no additional fees for using online services.

PennDOT will continue to evaluate these processes and will communicate any changes with the public.

Additional COVID-19 information is available at For more information, visit or

PA Turnpike Reminds Motorists of Toll Increases New TOLL BY PLATE rates now include discount for pre-registered drivers.

 MIDDLETOWN, PA… The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) reminds drivers that toll increases took effect Sunday Jan. 3 just after midnight. In July 2020, the PTC approved a 6 percent toll increase for all E-ZPass rates systemwide and for the PA Turnpike TOLL BY PLATE rates that had been established before the March 2020 conversion to All-Electronic Tolling (AET) at these six locations:

•Beaver Valley Expressway (I-376)

•Delaware River Bridge (New Jersey border)

•Gateway Toll Plaza (Ohio border)

•Greensburg Bypass (PA Turnpike 66)

•Keyser Avenue and Clarks Summit Tolls (I-476/Northeastern Extension)

•Findlay Connector (PA Turnpike 576/Southern Beltway)

Like previous annual toll-rate increases, this measure was primarily driven by the PA Turnpike’s annual transit payments of $450 million to PennDOT as mandated by Acts 44 of 2007 and 89 of 2013. Since 2007, the Commission has transferred $7 billion in funding to PennDOT.

 Additional Increase for TOLL BY PLATE Rates

The Commission in July also approved new TOLL BY PLATE rates at all other toll facilities that were converted to AET in March. These new rates, which also take effect Jan. 3, include the 6% increase along with an additional 45% increase over the 2020 cash rate for TOLL BY PLATE motorists. The rates — which reflect the higher cost of collecting this way — will not be applied at the six toll facilities listed above.

“The new TOLL BY PLATE rates offset the higher costs the Commission incurs to process the toll, mail the invoices and collect payment — a pricing approach used by tolling agencies across the nation to cover the cost of administering AET systems,” PTC CEO Mark Compton explained. “This balanced approach allows us to maintain a lower rate for those choosing a payment method that is less costly to administer, while those who choose a pricier payment option absorb those costs.”

 PTC Toll App Discount

The PTC also announced an upgrade to its tolling smartphone app. In addition to E-ZPass account management, non-E-ZPasscustomers will be able to use the smartphone app to create an autopay account and receive 15% savings on their monthly TOLL BY PLATE invoices. The enhanced app — called “PA Toll Pay” — will be available for Turnpike travelers Jan. 3, 2021.

“Given the significantly higher rates now associated with the TOLL BY PLATE option, we wanted to offer an alternative that would provide a measure of relief for travelers,” Compton explained. 

With the PA Turnpike TOLL BY PLATE option, high-speed cameras capture license-plate images as vehicles pass by. The registered owner receives an invoice for trips made through the tolling point. Invoices can be paid online, by phone or by mail. Upon receipt of a TOLL BY PLATE invoice, recipients also have an option to open an E-ZPass account and pay the lowest rate.

 E-ZPass Offers Lowest Rate

“E-ZPass drivers will continue to receive the lowest toll rates across the PA Turnpike,” Compton said, “with some customers saving nearly 60% in 2021.”

Starting Jan. 3, the most common toll for a passenger vehicle will increase from $1.50 to $1.60 for E-ZPass customers and from $2.50 to $3.90 for those choosing TOLL BY PLATE. The most common toll for a Class-5 tractor trailer will increase from $12.20 to $13 for E-ZPass and from $17.30 to $26.60 for TOLL BY PLATE customers.

Compton strongly encouraged PA Turnpike travelers to switch to E-ZPass, since it is the most convenient, economical way to travel and is accepted in all neighboring states and across the eastern United States.

“Currently, 86 percent of our customers have chosen E-ZPass, with more switching every day. Now that hundreds of grocery stores in the Commonwealth offer E-ZPass, chances are you pass by at least one of them,” Compton said. “Because of our low administration and enrollment fees, and the ability to set up an automatically replenished or cash-funded E-ZPass account, there’s no reason not to get it.”

Most of PA’s top grocery chains offer E-ZPass GoPaks, including Giant Eagle, Acme, Giant Food Stores and Wegmans. In addition, travelers can pick up an E-ZPass GoPak — which includes a transponder that must be registered before it is used — at all 17 Turnpike service plazas and Pennsylvania AAA offices. To find a location nearby, visit


Thanks For Nothing, Congress! Small-Business Truckers React To Latest COVID Relief Bill

 Grain Valley, MO… The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association sent a letter to Congress today challenging them to take a long look in the mirror over the most recent stimulus and how it blatantly overlooks small-business truckers. 

“We’ve heard them praising truckers all year as essential heroes during the pandemic,” said Lewie Pugh, executive vice president. “And now here we are with a spending package that benefits nearly every other sector of transportation except those that have been keeping goods moving this whole time.”

The letter points out how transit, motor coaches, airlines and others, are getting a big helping hand, while small-business truckers are struggling to stay afloat.

“This is shameful,” continues Pugh.  “Some of these industries already received tens of billions of dollars earlier this year.”

OOIDA clarifies how small-business truckers do not want a handout, even though they have faced an existential threat this year as freight rates dropped in the spring and early summer.  

The Association has instead made several suggestions for relief the past several months, suggestions that have gone unanswered.

“They could have suspended the federal fuel tax, or the heavy-vehicle use tax, or even the Unified Carrier Registration tax to help truckers’ cash flow,” said Pugh.  “Or, they could have tossed in a few hundred million dollars for truck parking projects, so more truckers would have a safe place to park while they work long hours.”  

OOIDA ultimately asks Congress to show with actions, not just words, that they support small-business truckers and do things differently next year.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is the largest 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. 

Federal Motor Carrier Medical Card Waiver Extended To Feb. 28, 2021

 The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will continue to offer extensions on Medical Examination Certificate requirements for commercial drivers whose MEC has recently expired.

FMCSA has had a waiver in place since March to allow commercial driver license holders who are subject to federal rules to continue to hold commercial driving privileges with expired certificates.

These Medical Examiner Certificate (MEC) waivers will be extended as follows:

* If a driver certifies a driving type of “non-excepted interstate” and their MEC was valid for a period of 90 or more days and expired on or after Sept. 1, 2020, then a MEC emergency condition waiver will be placed on their record with an expiration date of Feb. 28, 2021. “Non-expected interstate” drivers whose prior MEC expired before September 1, 2020 or was valid for a period less than 90 days will not qualify for this new waiver. 

* If a driver certifies a driving type of “non-excepted intrastate” or “excepted interstate” and the driver’s prior MEC was valid for a period of 90 or more days and expired on or after March 1, 2020, and before Feb. 28, 2021, a MEC emergency condition waiver will be placed on their driving record with an expiration date of February 28, 2021.

For more information: (503) 373-0000, option 1 for information about over-dimension loads; (503) 378-6699 for information about registration services.

FMCSA waiver: Waiver in Response to the COVID-19 National Emergency –For States, CDL Holders, CLP Holders, and Interstate Drivers | FMCSA (

Oregon MEC requirements including how to mail or fax your certificate to DMV:



ATA Truck Tonnage Index Rose 3.7% in November 2020

 Arlington, VA…  American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 3.7% in November after falling 5% in October. In November, the index equaled 112.2 (2015=100) compared with 108.3 in October.

“The 2020 seesaw pattern continued in November as typical seasonality is not holding this year,” saidATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “It was a nice gain, but the rebound was not enough to make up for October’s drop. Robust retail freight, helped by consumer spending, especially e-commerce, and very lean inventories helped truck tonnage last month. Strong single-family housing starts are also aiding freight tonnage, but lackluster restaurant, manufacturing and energy sectors remain a drag. I expect these softer industries to benefit from widespread COVID-19 vaccinations in 2021.”  

October’s decrease was revised up to 5% from our November 24 press release.

Compared with November 2019, the SA index contracted 3.8%, the eighth straight year-over-year decline. Year-to-date, compared with the same period in 2019, tonnage is down 3.8%.

The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 110.5 in November, 4.7% below the October level (116). 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.