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Latest Industry News Briefs Courtesy of PMTA

January, 2018

ATA Commends Senate Passage of Tax Reform

Arlington, Virginia – The American Trucking Associations issued the following statement commending the United States Senate for passing tax reform legislation: “With today’s action in the Senate, major tax reform is now on the cusp of becoming law and igniting America’s economic engine,” said Chris Spear, president and CEO of the American Trucking Associations. “Reforming this onerous tax code will enable trucking companies large and small to invest more into their businesses, creating good middle-income jobs and stimulating growth up and down the supply chain.” 

“We see every day – in our operations, and those of our customers – what tax reform will do to get the economy moving ahead at full speed,” said Dave Manning, chairman of ATA and president of TCW, Inc. “A growing economy means more trucks on our roads to keep store shelves stocked and Americans’ homes filled.”

ATA has been an actively engaged throughout the legislative process in support of a tax overhaul. Learn more about its efforts by visiting trck.ng/taxreform.


ATA Truck Tonnage Index Increased 3.3% in October - Tonnage Index Up 9.9% from Year Earlier

Arlington, VA… American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index rose 3.3% in October, following a 1.9% decline during September. In October, the index equaled 147.6 (2000=100), up from 142.9 in September.

Compared with October 2016, the SA index surged 9.9%, which was the largest year-over-year increase since December 2013. In September, the index increased 6.3% on a year-over-year basis. Year-to-date, compared with the same ten months in 2016, the index is up 3.1%.

ATA also revised its September decline in the index down to a 1.9% drop from the previously reported 0.9% decrease.

The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 151 in October, which was 5.1% above the previous month (143.7).

“Continued improvement in truck tonnage reflects a much stronger freight market,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “This strength is the result of several factors, including consumption, factory output, construction and improved inventory levels throughout the supply chain. Additionally, the 6.7% rise in tonnage over the last four months suggests to me that retailers are expecting a good holiday spending season.”

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.


Small-Businesses In Transportation Testify At Hearing Seeking Regulatory Relief

Grain Valley, MO… The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association applauds the remarks of several small-businesses in the transportation industry as they testified before the U.S. House Committee on Small Business on Wednesday, Nov. 29.

The hearing, dubbed “Highway to Headache: Federal Regulations on the Small Trucking Industry,” was an opportunity to provide input on the vital role small businesses play in the overall economy and highway safety.

“Small-business truckers and other businesses that rely on large trucks for their business models must contend with the same restrictive regulations as large businesses,” said Todd Spencer, executive vice president of OOIDA. “Providing regulatory relief would be good for the economy and for highway safety as many regulations have no benefits for either. Small trucking businesses are the safest operators on the road, with millions of safe miles, and we should be helping them to thrive instead of putting them out of business with over-regulation.”

Numerous concerns were cited in testimony from OOIDA, represented by board of directors member Monte Wiederhold, an owner-operator with a small fleet of seven trucks in Ohio. Some of those same concerns were echoed by other witnesses sharing insights about regulations such as the electronic logging device mandate, hours-of-service, EPA emissions standards and minimum insurance requirements.

The committee heard about how the ELD mandate is estimated to cost impacted stakeholders more than $2 billion, making it one of the most expensive federal transportation rulemakings over the last decade.

“The mandate provides no safety, economic, or productivity benefits for most ensnared by the mandate,” said Spencer. “

A chief concern is the self-certification of the devices that businesses will be required to purchase to comply with the mandate. At present, none of the 193 devices listed on the FMCSA website have been validated by the agency or any unbiased, third-party testing program.

“Most small-businesses can ill afford to make these purchases only to learn later that the ELD is non-compliant. Yet they are required to do so or risk violation,” said Spencer.

Wiederhold also shared with the committee concerns about federal policies such as the Unified Carrier Registration System as well as the issue of high driver turnover among mega carriers that is often purported as a driver shortage.

“Big trucking uses the myth of a driver shortage as a means to advance priorities that would actually harm drivers and undermine highway safety,” said Spencer. “The real problem is high turnover, which the large carriers rely upon to keep wages low and satisfy Wall Street investors. While pleading for help from Washington to address the mythical shortage, corporate motor carriers routinely blame the overcapacity of trucks within their own fleets for lower than expected earnings. Clearly, there are more trucks on the road than freight to haul.”

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.


OTA Urges Zero Tolerance for Driver Pot Use; Wants Legislative Support for Testing

As Ottawa prepares to legalize marijuana next year, the Ontario Trucking Association once again urged its provincial government to ensure zero tolerance enforcement for all truck drivers while allowing employers of safety sensitive workers to conduct comprehensive workplace drug testing.

In a submission this week to the Standing Committee on Justice Policy, OTA laid out the potential impacts of both recreational and medicinal marijuana legalization on the trucking industry.

“Ontario truck drivers have an exemplary safety record and are statistically far less likely to be driving while impaired than all other vehicle drivers – and we’d like to keep it that way,” says OTA president Stephen Laskowski. “Legalization will carry greater risks for motor carriers and we are asking for the necessary tools to mitigate that risk.”

OTA supports a strict approach that ensures all six classes of commercial driver’s licenses and G class drivers operating commercial vehicles are included in a zero-tolerance policy.

Furthermore, OTA is asking the government to follow the U.S. approach of not differentiating between recreational and medical use of marijuana among drivers.

“If the true goal is public safety for all road users then it shouldn’t matter whether it’s being used for recreational or medicinal purposes,” says Laskowski. “Commercial drivers are already held to the highest standards of safety and this shouldn’t be any different.”

It has already become an industry standard for trucking companies to take proactive steps to ensure drivers are fit for duty and not operating under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. However, employers must be able to ensure public safety by implementing drug and alcohol testing policies without being at risk of human rights challenges.

“It is imperative employers be allowed to apply workplace measures that will mitigate additional safety risks to employees and the public that legalized marijuana could bring,” says Laskowski, who points out the U.S. has virtually eliminated drug and alcohol concerns by providing employers the tools to manage the issue. “It is essential Ontario and Canada provide employers legislative and regulatory backing for being proactive and doing the right thing.”

OTA says it looks forward to the government’s response and will continue working with the Canadian Trucking Alliance to spread a similar message across Canada.


RIDOT Publishes Inadequate Environmental Assessment of Impact of Truck Tolls

Arlington, VA… The American Trucking Associations and its state affiliate, the Rhode Island Trucking Association called on the Federal Highway Administration to reject the Rhode Island Department of Transportation’s assessment of the environmental impact of the state’s proposed RhodeWorks truck-only toll scheme.

“The Rhode Island Trucking Association and the American Trucking Associations have identified dozens of errors in RIDOT’s Environmental Assessment, which was published last month,” said RITA President and CEO Chris Maxwell. “We are calling upon the Federal Highway Administration to reject the EA and instruct RIDOT to publish a corrected report or to immediately order RIDOT to conduct an Environmental Impact that addresses the issues we pointed out in our analysis.”

RIDOT published the Environment Assessment on November 1 and FHWA can now either make a Finding of No Significant Impact, giving RIDOT the green light to move forward with tolling, or order further study through an Environmental Impact Statement. The EA’s faulty analysis cannot and should not justify issuance of a FONSI.

“This extortionary truck-tolling program will hit Rhode Island trucking companies significantly harder than out-of-state carriers, contrary to RIDOT’s claims when the RhodeWorks bill was approved by the legislature,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. “Given the national precedent that this initiative would establish, ATA will exhaust every legislative, regulatory and legal avenue to defeat the implementation of the tolling portion of RhodeWorks and prevent this cancerous proposal from spreading around the country. This effort is still in the early stages and we intend to fight this battle for as long as it takes.”

Among the issues ATA and RITA identified with RIDOT’s report were:

•RIDOT ignored constitutional issues surrounding state border tolls: While RIDOT has indicated its intent to toll trucks at 14 locations, itis asking for FHWA permission to first toll at only 2 locations on I-95 near the Connecticut border, thereby avoiding a full reckoning of the effects of diversion once all toll gantries are activated. This flawed methodology clearly ignores the cumulative impacts of full tolling and it raises Constitutional issues surrounding border tolls.

•RIDOT’s Berger Report Underestimates traffic diversion: The EA only looks at a single alternative route (Route 3) and ignores other feasible alternatives. This means that the full extent and impact of diversion is not fully explored. The Berger Report assumed that RIDOT would impose access restrictions on tractor-semitrailers to prevent through trucks from avoiding tolls by using alternative routes. The report assumed that enforcement of these restrictions would reduce traffic diversion by 50 percent. However, on August 17, the Rhode Island State Traffic Commission rejected RIDOT’s request to impose these restrictions. Since the EA based its estimates of impacts on the Berger Report’s underestimated diversion figures, all of the impact assessments that are adjustable according to the number of diverted vehicles are inherently erroneous.

•RIDOT falsely claimed most of the toll costs would be borne by out-of-state businesses: When it was pushing the RhodeWorks toll proposal to the public and General Assembly, RIDOT claimed that most of the costs would be paid for by out-of-state businesses. However, according to the state’s own figures, 94% of toll payments will be made by trucks traveling entirely within the state or picking up or delivering to a location in Rhode Island and just 6% of payments will be made by trucks crossing the state without stopping.

•RIDOT ignored the potential impacts of litigation: The EA ignores the probability of a legal challenge to the daily cap rates on tolls and imposition of tolls only on tractor-semitrailers, which both favor intrastate over interstate travelers, again raising Constitutional issues. The analysis should have looked at a scenario under which caps are lifted and all vehicles are tolled. It should also include a legal analysis looking at these issues.

•RIDOT overstates revenue projections by nearly $20 million: Furthermore, as a result of the adjustment identified in item #3, the projected revenue is lower than RIDOT claims is needed to meet the purpose and need of the proposal. According to a sensitivity analysis that excluded the enforcement actions, gross revenue would be reduced by approximately $10 million per year under this scenario. When toll capital and administrative costs are factored in, ATA estimates that net annual average revenue over the first 10 years of the program is $27.48 million, not the $46 million RIDOT claims.

“Implementing truck tolls will increase the cost of goods for every consumer in Rhode Island, which makes the accuracy, transparency, and reliability of RIDOT’s public reporting obligations critically important to every Rhode Island family. Given the profound, long term, costly burden on the citizens of our state, RIDOT’s fatally flawed EA report cannot be relied upon to make such a critical decision,” Maxwell said.


Small-Business Truckers Request Exemption From ELD Mandate

Grain Valley, MO… The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has submitted an request to a federal regulation requiring trucks to be equipped with electronic logging devices.

“Small-business truckers that have already proven their ability to operate safely should not be subject to purchasing costly, unproven and uncertified devices,” said Todd Spencer, executive vice president of OOIDA. “

The request was submitted to the agency that regulates motor carriers, the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration.

OOIDA has requested at least a 5-year exemption for motor carriers classified as small businesses according to the Small Business Administration and with a proven safety history with no attributable at-fault crashes, and who do not have a Carrier Safety Rating of “Unsatisfactory.”

Among the numerous concerns cited in the request, the issue of self-certification of vendors is one of the biggest issues brought up by OOIDA.

FMCSA has stated that they do not know if the self-certified ELD’s listed on their website fulfill regulatory requirements in the mandate. At present, none of the 193 devices listed have been validated by the agency or any unbiased, third-party testing program.

“Most small-business motor carriers can ill afford to make these purchases only to learn later that the ELD is non-compliant. Yet they are required to do so or risk violation,” said Spencer.

Another major concern expressed by OOIDA in the exemption request includes cybersecurity.

At two recent cybersecurity conferences, a leading research firm released a summary of their findings after analyzing three ELD providers currently listed as self-certified on the FMCSA website. Their general conclusion was that all three devices did very little, if anything at all, to follow best practices and were open to serious compromise.

A five-year exemption would provide necessary time for ELD manufacturers to be fully vetted by the agency, which would alleviate small-business motor carriers from learning that they purchased a device that could damage their vehicles electronic control module or be hacked.

OOIDA is a member of a diverse coalition of industry representatives that has spoken out against the mandate. OOIDA supports a bill proposed by U.S. Representative Brian Babin (R-TX-36) that would delay the ELD mandate for two years. Babin’s bill, H.R.3282, the ELD Extension Act of 2017, would extend the current implementation date from December 2017 to December 2019.

The ELD mandate is estimated to cost impacted stakeholders more than $2 billion, making it oneof the most expensive federal transportation rulemakings over the last decade. This is a massive unfunded mandate that provides no safety, economic, or productivity benefits for most ensnared by the mandate.

Commercial truck drivers are restricted to a limited number of working and driving hours under current regulations. The FMCSA’s mandate requires that truck drivers use ELDs to track their driving and non-driving activities even though such devices can only track movement and location of a vehicle. OOIDA contends that requiring electronic monitoring devices on commercial vehicles does not advance safety since they are no more reliable than paper logbooks for recording compliance with hours-of-service regulations. 


TCA Recognized for its Continued Support of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree

At a reception was held prior to the lighting of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) was presented with a 2017 Capitol Christmas Tree Appreciation Award. Bruce Ward, founder and president of Choose Outdoors, the non-profit organization that oversees the project, bestowed the honor in recognition of TCA’s continuing support of the Tree. TCA’s Senior Director of Outreach & Engagement Marli Hall accepted the award.

"Without the support of TCA we could not have accomplished so much on the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree tour this year,” said Ward. “We now have so many members of the trucking industry working to make this bigger and better every year. We're looking forward to finding even more ways to make the cross country journey of 'The People's Tree' an American tradition that can be shared by millions of people around the world."

As in previous years, TCA member companies hosted “whistle stops” at points along the Tree’s route. This year’s events included a stop in Grand Forks, North Dakota hosted by Britton Transport as well as a stop in Kansas City, Missouri hosted by Meritor and MHC Kenworth. The Tree was hauled by Larry Spiekermeier with Whitewood Transport of Billings, Montana, in a nearly 100-foot trailer wrapped in banners displaying thousands of signatures from throughout the Tree's trek.

The Capitol Christmas Tree has been a tradition at the U.S. Capitol since 1964. This years’s tree was lit on the West Lawn of the Capitol by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Ridley Brandmayr, an 11-year-old from Bozeman, Montana. The Tree, adorned with thousands of ornaments and topped by a large copper star, will be shining brightly for all to see from dusk until 11 p.m. each evening throughout the holiday season.

 

Truckers Applaud Indiana Attorney General For Requesting Delay Of ELD Mandate

Grain Valley, MO… The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association applauds a request made by the Indiana attorney general asking that a federal mandate for electronic logging devices on commercial vehicles be delayed.

The request from Curtis Hill, Jr., the Indiana Attorney General, to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration cited numerous concerns that reflect many of the same issues raised by truck drivers. 


Among the concerns is the self-certification of the devices that truckers will be required to purchase to comply with the mandate. At present, none of the 193 devices listed on the FMCSA website have been validated by the agency or any unbiased, third-party testing program. 


“Most small-business truckers can ill afford to make these purchases only to learn later that their ELD is non-compliant. Yet they are required to do so or risk violation,” said Todd Spencer, executive vice president of OOIDA.

“This request from a state agency is a prime example how states are beginning to understand the reality of this broadly written mandate and its negative consequences. Law enforcement is simply not ready for this,” said Spencer.
 

The ELD mandate is estimated to cost impacted stakeholders about $2 billion annually, making it one of the most expensive federal transportation rulemakings over the last decade. 


“The mandate provides no safety, economic, or productivity benefits for most ensnared by the mandate, which includes businesses that are not in trucking, but rely heavily on trucks as their business models,” said Spencer. “ 


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.