Latest Industry News Briefs Courtesy of PMTA

August 2023

PA State Senate Votes To Ban Using Cell Phones While Driving

By Megan Magensky, PMTA Administrator

The Pennsylvania Senate recently voted to expand a ban on texting while driving.

Senate Bill 37 would increase penalties for drivers who have a cell phone in their hand while driving. This includes while sitting in traffic or at a stoplight.

The bill does allow people to push a single button to start or end a phone call on a phone that is within easy reach and to use it for navigation or listening to music. The bill includes exceptions for emergency responders and for people calling 911.

In May, President and CEO Rebecca Oyler wrote a letter to Senate leaders in support of the bill. In it, she writes: 

"The trucking industry has long been subject to a mobile device ban, and we have seen the positive impact that reducing distractions can have, so we believe that extending similar bans to all drivers – or at the very least, encouraging all drivers to practice personal responsibility can improve safety."

First-time offenders will receive a $150 fine. 

If the offender is convicted of homicide by vehicle, Senate Bill 37 would give the court the ability to sentence up to five years. If the offender is convicted of aggravated assault by vehicle, the bill gives the court the ability to sentence up to two years.

If passed by the House, drivers will have a grace period of a year in which they only receive a written warning for violation.

Senate Bill 37 will require driving tests to ask a question about the effects of distracted driving and student driving manuals to include a section on distracted driving and the penalties.

The Senate passed the bill by a vote of 37-11. It now goes to the state House of Representatives for consideration.

Peterbilt Technician Institute Recognizes 1,000th Graduate

Denton, TX… The Peterbilt Technician Institute (PTI) recently recognized its 1,000th graduate during the graduation ceremony at its Lisle, Illinois, campus. Since its creation in 2013, PTI has been a strategic initiative within Peterbilt with the goal of training highly qualified service technicians to be employed at any of the company's 420+ locations.

The PTI program runs for 12 weeks. Students earn Peterbilt-specific certifications to maintain, diagnose and repair Peterbilt vehicles and PACCAR engines.

Jason Neumann, the 1,000th graduate, came to the program following his completion of the Universal Technical Institute (UTI) diesel technician training program at UTI-Lisle. Neumann is a U.S. Army veteran who worked on diesel vehicles during his service and has already received an employment offer from Peterbilt dealer JX Enterprises, at its Green Bay, Wisconsin, location.

"Peterbilt has always been my favorite truck brand. Having the opportunity to receive Peterbilt-specific training and earn valuable certifications to start my career was exciting. I'm looking forward to learning and growing as a tech with my new employer, JX Enterprises, and someday managing a dealership," said Neumann.

PTI's custom-designed curriculum and focus on developing work-ready skills have contributed to its rapid growth. PTI has campus locations in Lisle, Illinois, Irving, Texas and Nashville, Tennessee.

"We're proud to recognize our 1,000th graduate. The PTI program continues to create successful career paths and facilitate employment for hundreds of students every year across our three locations," said Casey Spadafina, Peterbilt's Technician Program Manager. "Our dealerships are incredibly motivated to support the program to recruit high-quality technicians for their operations."

"We have had outstanding success with many recruits from the PTI program," said Hannah Freeman, Director of Continuous Improvement, JX Enterprises. “Qualified techs directly contribute to our growth by delivering quality work that increases customer satisfaction. We plan to continue hiring PTI graduates for all our locations."

Peterbilt is committed to doubling the number of technicians in its dealer network by the end of 2027.

To learn more about PTI, visit

Feds and Trucking Sector Must Work Closely to Monitor Realities of Decarbonization, Set Achievable Truck Emission Policies and Targets

 TORONTO, CANADA…  The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) is proud of its work with the Government of Canada in helping trucking fleets promote environmental stewardship and reduce their carbon footprint. The Alliance stresses, however, that any future initiatives and regulations to accelerate decarbonization and the adoption of heavy-duty zero-emissions vehicles (ZEVs) will continue to require strong collaboration with governments to ensure real-world operational realities are captured, and that targets and standards put forward are practical, feasible and attainable for various segments of the trucking industry. 

 The federal government has supported the shift towards ZEVs and reducing the industry’s reliance on diesel fuel by introducing successful programs like the medium and heavy-duty vehicle emissions program (iMHZEV) offering rebates for new truck technology; the Green Freight Program supporting the adoption of truck retrofits and aerodynamic devices; as well as various provincial initiatives to test ZEVs and expand educational workshops to promote the benefits of emerging fuel technologies. 

 Furthermore, the recent introduction of the federal ZEV Council is another positive step in assessing the opportunities and barriers to ZEV adoption. The council brings together industry stakeholders, academics, NGOs, and governments from across Canada to create areas of focus, establish consensus, and tackle issues such as affordability, awareness and education and infrastructure needs. 

 As ZEV technology continues to rapidly expand and grow, many provincial association members are also working with governments in promoting and educating their members on emerging fuel technologies and their operational capabilities in both the long and short-haul sectors. 

 However, with the Government of Canada maintaining its intention to align with the most stringent environmental regulations in North America, CTA is reminding policy makers that a “made-in-Canada” approach must underpin any new regulations to ensure a smooth and practical transition to cleaner engines in the trucking sector and to consider that emission reduction plans proposed in foreign jurisdictions may not be easily mirrored domestically. 

CTA continues to closely monitor the ongoing developments in the U.S., where the EPA announced ambitious emissions reduction targets for heavy trucks. This announcement has received a mixed reaction in the U.S. because of how reportedly unrealistic and unachievable these targets are, and that they don’t properly consider the current state of operational readiness and challenges such as vehicle affordability, range concerns, lack of infrastructure and charging times, amongst other factors.

 The EPA announcement is in addition to the contentious Advanced Clean Truck standards developed in California, which aim to end sales of diesel trucks by 2036. California standards are viewed as some of the most stringent in North America and are problematic for the industry because they are not reflective of Canadian geography, weights/dimensions regimes, battery degradation due to weather and other considerations unique to the Canadian landscape. 

 “The Alliance believes there is strong understanding within the federal government that long-haul trucking fleets are particularly constrained in their efforts to decarbonize, but also a belief that opportunities to adopt ZEVs are more readily available for regional operations,” says Lak Shoan, Director of Policy and Industry Awareness Programs for CTA. “In the coming months, CTA will be working with members to verify and assess the level of operational readiness for return-to-base operations, and how government and industry can tackle any barriers to ensure the trucking sector is doing its part to address the climate crisis where possible.” 

 The Alliance is aware of several carriers that are exploring and piloting ZEVs for regional operations, which will help form the basis of a working group comprised of member association carriers and Team Canada members. The group will discuss current decarbonization efforts, the need for additional pilot projects, and other initiatives being taken to adopt ZEV technologies with a particular focus on return-to-base operations. 


Members that would like to be engaged in this process should contact [email protected]

Efforts to Force Reclassification of Independent Operators as Employee Drivers Will Harm the Intermodal Supply Chain


CALVERTON, MD…  Various federal and state policymakers are seeking to make it more difficult for independent contractors to continue operating as small business owners. The independent contractor model is essential to the intermodal supply chain, accounting for over 80 percent of intermodal truck drivers. 

 On June 21, the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) will consider the Richard L. Trumka Protecting the Right to Organize Act of 2023 (PRO Act). If passed, it could bring an end to independent contractors in the trucking industry. Ahead of this important executive session, Joni Casey, President & CEO, Intermodal Association of North America, offers the following statement: 

 “Independent Contractors are a vital link in the intermodal supply chain, moving cargo to and from intermodal facilities throughout the US. These owner-operators are proud, small business owners who enjoy both operational and financial flexibility. Although they have the option to secure full-time employment in the trucking industry, they have chosen to remain as independent contractors. 

While the independent contractor model remains standard industry practice, recent state and federal actions are eroding its longevity and undermining its significance by chipping away at this business model. California’s Assembly Bill 5, or AB 5, established a test that essentially prohibits the use of independent contractors within the trucking industry. On June 13, the National Labor Relations Board modified its standard for determining whether workers are employees or independent contractors under the National Labor Relations Act. This new standard expands the definition of an employee, threatening the viability of independent contractors at the national level. 

While the economic impacts of AB 5 in California continue to be realized, some federal lawmakers are pursuing the PRO Act which would in essence, make AB 5 the prevailing law across the nation. If this becomes law, individuals will no longer have the choice to work as independent contractors, and more than half of these entities are expected to suffer substantial and direct income loss. As the Senate HELP Committee prepares to consider the PRO Act, I urge lawmakers to consider its long-term costs. Not only does it strip drivers of the freedom to choose their own schedules and length of haul, but it would also exacerbate the ongoing national truck driver shortage by discouraging them from remaining in or joining the field, at a time when the intermodal supply chain continues to recover from recent disruptions. Congress should be considering how to incentivize drivers to enter the sector rather than passing laws that will force experienced drivers from their chosen profession.”

CTA: IRCC Announces Truck Drivers Included in New Express Entry, Category-Based Selection

TORONTO, CANADA…  The Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, announced the first-ever launch of category-based selection for Canada’s flagship economic immigration management system, Express Entry. 

 In the announcement, trucking was part of a select few occupations to be included. In practice, category-based selection will allow Canada to issue invitations to prospective permanent residents with specific skills, training or language ability, with transport truck drivers (NOC73300) being officially included as eligible. 

 In November of 2022, with CTA staff present, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Sean Fraser announced IRCCs implementation of the new National Occupational Classification (NOC) 2021 for immigration programs, paving the way for trucking’s entrance into the Express Entry programs. 

 “While we were very happy to see trucking included in the Express Entry Program last year, we also knew there was still work to be done on ensuring drivers were competitive within the program,” said Jon Blackham, CTA’s Director of Policy and Public Affairs. “So we put together what we thought was a compelling case for the trucking sector to be included in category-based selection and we are happy to see that reflected into today’s announcement.” 

 In late 2022, IRCC held a public consultation on enhancing Express Entry through category-based selection. CTA made a submission on behalf of the trucking industry in which a detailed business case was made for the inclusion of truck drivers (NOC 73300 – Transport Truck Drivers) to be included in the category-based selection system. As part of those discussions, CTA has also proposed longer term solutions, including those aimed at ensuring the industry has meaningful long-term access to the program. 

“As IRCC and the Government of Canada know, the economy and the skills that are most needed to sustain it are changing,” said CTA chair Greg Munden. “We would like to extend our gratitude to Minister Fraser and IRCC for appreciating the essential role trucking plays in the supply chain and larger economy. This will pay dividends to all industries, sectors and consumers who rely on the trucking industry’s services.” 

Clean Freight Coalition Statement on California's Clean Trucks Partnership

Washington, DC… Clean Freight Coalition Executive Director Jim Mullen issued the following statement on the California Air Resources Board’s new Clean Truck Partnership:

“The CFC and its members are committed to the sustainable and affordable transition to zero-emission trucks. However, the unachievable standards and timelines set forth by California regulators jeopardize the entire supply chain and risk truck dealers having limited compliant products to sell and fleets holding onto their older trucks longer. 

“The CFC questions the benefits of this agreement. Policymakers could make an immediate impact on truck emissions by providing incentives for motor carriers to refresh their fleets with newer, more environmentally friendly trucks. For instance, eliminating the Federal Excise Tax on heavy trucks would provide immediate benefit by reducing emissions while improving roadway safety with trucks equipped with the latest technologies. 

“A patchwork of state regulations disrupts the trucking industry and our nation’s supply chain. The CFC will continue to advocate for a sustainable and affordable transition to a zero-emission future which protects the supply chain and does not pass the financial burden onto the hundreds of millions of American households and business consumers who depend on goods shipped by trucks.”

CARB Emissions Suspension by DEP Extended to MY27

By Rebecca Oyler, PMTA Administrator

PMTA is providing this update on the status of the suspension of the California Air Resources Board (CARB) emissions requirements for heavy-duty trucks in Pennsylvania. 

Nearly 20 years ago the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Projection (DEP) adopted CARB’s emissions standards by reference for diesel-powered vehicles weighing over 14,000 lbs. As a result, any time CARB revises its rules, Pennsylvania’s Heavy-Duty Diesel Emission Control Program automatically updates to adopt the California rules.

In response to PMTA’s members’ concerns about cost increases for new trucks in 2022 due to warranty requirements that have no beneficial impact on the environment, DEP issued a notice in November 2021 that the agency would not be enforcing CARB requirements in PA until at least July 31, 2023.

PMTA has advocated for extending this suspension.

Beginning with Model Year 2024 vehicles, CARB regulation imposes increasingly stringent emission standards for heavy diesel engines—which are forecast to dramatically increase costs for trucking companies and consumers. Pennsylvania has also incorporated these requirements by regulation—but without any consideration as to the impact on Pennsylvania businesses and consumers, and without any opportunity for public comment. DEP maintains that these burdensome new California standards apply automatically in Pennsylvania, without need for any Pennsylvania official to endorse them.

After PMTA expressed these concerns to DEP and legislators, on Saturday, June 10, DEP issued a further extension of CARB enforcement until MY 2027. (Suspension of Enforcement of the Pennsylvania Heavy-Duty Diesel Emissions Control Program).

However, DEP’s temporary policy of non-enforcement does not protect dealerships and trucking companies from these burdensome California regulations. DEP has warned that truck owners and sellers may still face potential lawsuits from third parties if they fail to comply with CARB standards.

PMTA supports SB 254, a bill sponsored by Sen. Gene Yaw that would suspend the enforcement of CARB emissions regulations through MY26 AND protect businesses from legal challenge by third parties if they are complying with EPA standards during the suspension.

SB 254, which suspends CARB through MY26, will now be considered by the PA House of Representatives. PMTA members are urged to contact their state House member to support SB 254.

Additionally, PMTA and several of its members have challenged the delegation of Pennsylvania's heavy-duty emissions standards to CARB in state court. For information on this complaint see:

ATA Truck Tonnage Index Increased 2.4% in May

Washington , DC… American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index rose 2.4% in May after decreasing 1.7% in April. In May, the index equaled 115.4 (2015=100) compared with 112.7 in April.

“Tonnage had a nice gain in May, but remains in recession territory,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “The 2.4 percent gain didn’t erase the 4.5 percent total drop the previous two months. Additionally, tonnage continues to contract from year earlier levels as retail sales remain soft, manufacturing production continues to fall from a year ago, and housing starts contract from 2022 levels.”

Compared with May 2022, the SA index decreased 1.3%, which was the third straight year-over-year decrease. In April, the index was down 3.4% from a year earlier.

The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 120 in May, 10.1% above the April level (109). 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 72.2% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 10.93 billion tons of freight in 2021. Motor carriers collected $875.5 billion, or 80.8% 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 5th day of each month. The report includes month-to-month and year-over-year results, relevant economic comparisons, and key financial indicators.

ATA Statement on Canadian Port Strike

Washington, DC… American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear issued the following statement on the announcement from the International Longshore & Warehouse Union Canada that workers would strike beginning July 1:

“ILWU Canada’s announcement of an imminent labor strike is unwelcome news for the U.S. economy as the global supply chain enters peak shipping season. This is a serious situation that demands serious leadership and shows what’s at stake as the Senate considers our next Secretary of Labor. 

“Julie Su has consistently dodged important and straightforward questions on numerous issues, and her evasiveness raises major red flags as ongoing labor disputes here at home threaten supply chain continuity and the freight services that American consumers depend on every single day. Every Senator must understand the consequences of affirming a Labor Secretary who’s incapable of making tough calls, standing by them, and standing firm when the situation demands it.”   

ATA Outlines Principles for Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

 Washington, DC… In comments to the Environmental Protection Agency, the American Trucking Associations outlined three bedrock principles the industry is committed to pursuing to reduce emissions from heavy-duty trucks.

“ATA starts with ‘Yes,’” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear, “and we want to achieve the same things that the EPA does when it comes to reducing emissions. In fact, our record over the past 30 years of collaborating with EPA in reducing both carbon and NOx pollution is strong. Together, the agency and industry have arrived at tough but achievable regulations that allow for technology to develop on timelines to minimize market disruptions and job losses.

“However, EPA is moving at breakneck speed to force the industry towards electrification while failing to address the key enablers towards any new technology adoption. EPA’s proposed adoption rates assumes that product availability, vehicle costs, range, weight reduction, energy capacity and recharging and refueling infrastructure will all be available for fleets to utilize the technology,” he said. “Instead of the agency leap frogging existing low-carbon technologies towards electrification, allow today’s technologies to be fully adopted.”

In comments to EPA on the agency’s Phase 3 Greenhouse Gas Standards, ATA identified several significant flaws that must be corrected before the agency issues final rules including:

 * First, the proposal reneges on commitments and timelines EPA made in Phase 2 of the standards, upending the plans and schedules for both equipment makers and purchasers.

* Second, the proposal’s aggressive timelines – with new standards coming into play annually after 2027 – rush early-stage technologies to the marketplace without sufficient testing and validation

* Third, the rule bets so heavily on electric and hydrogen vehicles – technology that has yet to be fully vetted and proven in the commercial freight environment – so as to pick winners, providing no flexibility for fleets to reduce emissions with existing solutions.

* Finally, the rule does not take into account the lack of infrastructure to fuel and charge these new vehicles – infrastructure that is critical to maintaining our supply chain.

"Mandating unproven technology that won't meet our industry's unique requirements is a recipe for failure," Spear said.