All posts tagged 'American Trucking Associations'

Impact of HOS Still Unclear

by Cliff Lynch
22. August 2013 10:52

Impact of Hours of Service Still Unclear

The long awaited revisions to the trucker hours of service rules became effective July 1, and the industry is watching closely to see what impact they will have on drivers, carriers, and shippers. FTR Associates has predicted that the changes will result in a shortage of 60,000 drivers, or 3% of capacity. If this comes to pass, carrier rates are almost certain to increase.

After only one month it is difficult to gauge the impact, but both ATA and FTR reported slight decreases in volume. Both indices fell slightly which no doubt negated any effect of the new rules. Class 8 truck orders also declined 7% from June. But looking ahead, it seems clear that any significant improvement in the economy or truck volume will cause problems. Keep in mind also; there is more to the driver shortage than HOS. CSA 2010 has also taken a toll on drivers and carriers, plus when the economy improves, drivers jump ship for higher paying, more "family friendly" jobs.

Already, driver turnover for the first quarter of 2013 was 97%; and as the economy improves, it will be necessary to pay more for competent, trained drivers.

For shippers, alternatives to truck transportation are few and far between. Some are able to switch to intermodal (which continues to be the fastest growing mode) but trucks are still the mainstay of the transportation industry, hauling almost 69% of total tonnage. ATA predicts this will rise to almost 71% by 2024 when truckers will also capture 81% of revenues. Most carriers are making significant efforts to improve the quality of life for drivers; but in the final analysis, it will be primarily about salary – increased salary to be precise.

In the final analysis, one thing is very clear. There will be no way to escape higher capacity related truck rates.


Trucking Redux

by Cliff Lynch
3. June 2013 16:37

For the past several years, a considerable amount of research has been conducted on the probable impact of larger trucks on the nation's highway system. All the results have been positive, and it has been clearly demonstrated that the addition of a sixth axle would enable a truck to carry a heavier load with no negative impact on safety, fuel costs, the environment, or highway infrastructure. Last year, John Mica, the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, included in the new transportation funding bill a provision allowing the states to increase maximum weights from 80,000 to 97,000 pounds for trucks with a sixth axle.

Unfortunately, this provision did not make the final cut when the bill was passed; and instead, the new legislation, known as MAP-21, directed the Secretary of Transportation to conduct still another study with a report due to Congress in two years.

The first public information session was held last Wednesday, with three additional sessions planned. Once again the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association stepped forward to object and this time used the recent collapse of a bridge on Interstate 5 in Washington State as ammunition for their argument (even though it is pretty clear the bridge collapsed because a truck struck the overhead structure). More objections are sure to follow.

In the meantime, Senator Frank Lautenberg has introduced legislation that would extend the current truck weight limits to the entire 220,000 mile national highway system. If passed, this bill would of course preclude the 97,000 pound loads. The ATA objects to this legislation, and the Coalition for Transportation Productivity, a proponent of larger trucks, blames the railroad lobby, accusing them of waging war on truck productivity. Other organizations support the bill, but on the surface it appears that most of the supporters ignore the sixth axle which is a key factor in assuring the trucks would have no negative impact.

Considering the confusion and controversy that is sure to follow, as well as the lack of urgency we often see in Congress and the DOT, I am afraid it will be a long time before we see these more efficient trucks on the highways – if ever.

Footnote: Unfortunately, on June 3, Senator Lautenberg passed away. Presumably, his legislation will move forward under the auspices of the co-sponsors of the bill, Senators Menendez, Feinstein, and McCaskill.

The continuing saga of Hours of Service rules

by Cliff Lynch
26. February 2013 15:21

As most industry watchers know, in December, 2011, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published its new driver hours of service rules, which among other things, reduce total weekly driver hours from 82 to 70 and require a 34-hour rest period between work weeks. The American Trucking Associations found several of the new provisions objectionable and filed suit seeking to overturn the changes.

red tractor-trailer
Will the revised CSA rules go
into effect this summer?

The new rules are scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2013.

Oral arguments in the ATA proceedings are scheduled to begin on March 15 of this year; and on January 25, ATA wrote the FMCSA requesting that any new rules not become effective until at least 3 months after the lawsuit is settled. This week, the FMCSA refused to do so, saying that ATA had not demonstrated enough "harm to the industry" to warrant a delay.

While this issue certainly has dragged on long enough, with the FMCSA's refusal to delay implementation, a strong possibility (probably certainty) is that if the new rules are allowed to go into effect on July 1, they will only have to be changed again when the court decision comes down. And of course, depending on the outcome, that decision no doubt will be appealed. Bottom-line, we will continue to be in a state of uncertainty and confusion about drivers' hours of service rules for some time to come.

A political comedy of errors

by Cliff Lynch
3. April 2012 15:59

capitol in sections

RQQPAJCBDH8J -- Technorati confirmation code. For several years now, Congress has known that transportation funding was going to expire on March 31, 2012; and finally, on March 13, the Senate did pass a two-year $109 million funding of U.S. highways and transit systems.

The bill probably was not all it should have been, but it wasn't a bad effort. The president of the American Trucking Associations said, this "is an example of how things should work in Washington."

Naturally, the House had its own version, but they could not even agree on that, thus passing nothing.

Finally, on March 30, President Obama signed a bill extending the current legislation for another 90 days which eliminated the possibility of all funding being cut off. This was the ninth time that the current legislation, passed in 2009, has been extended. So, here we go again................ This is to me, an example of how things really work in Washington -- slowly, inefficiently, and myopic.

There is nothing we need worse in this country than improved infrastructure, but our Congressional leaders cannot seem to bite the bullet.