The Arkansas Trucking Association (ATA) is recognized for its record of performance in protecting the collective interests of its member companies in the regulatory and legislative arenas. Sometimes, well-meaning legislators and public policy makers introduce proposals that would have a negative impact on the trucking industry and the thousands of people it employs; that's when the ATA steps in.
The ATA is frequently the only organization standing in the way of regressive legislation or a burdensome regulation becoming reality – trucking's firewall.
While its primary focus is in Arkansas, the ATA doesn't hesitate to take the lead on national industry issues. For example, the Arkansas Trucking Association was a leader in promoting a requirement that electronic on-board recorders be in all commercial trucks to verify the number of hours a truck driver has been behind the wheel.
ATA also worked with Congressman Rick Crawford (R-Ark.-1) to persuade Congress to create a national drug and alcohol clearinghouse in order to flag anyone who has tested positive on a drug test when applying for a job as a truck driver, thereby helping to keep drug abusers out of commercial trucks and off the nation's highways.
In 2014, the Arkansas Trucking Association asked Rep. John Boozman (R-Ark.-3) to improve the hours-of-service rules, particularly the provision that requires drivers to include two consecutive 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. periods within a "restart" between work weeks because the provision puts more drivers on the road during early rush hours. Rep. Boozman helped ATA successfully suspend the restart provision until more research could be done to prove the restart increases highway safety. The results of that study are still pending at press time.
Of course, trucking is a diverse industry and not every issue draws unanimous support or opposition. For that reason, the ATA Board of Directors weighs each regulatory and legislative proposal to determine the association's position.
Here are some of the more recent issues that ATA has played a role in the outcome:
Past Legislative and Regulatory Victories Include:
In 2016, served on the Governor’s Highway Working Group and the Good Roads Foundation to promote adequate funding and financing for the planning, development, construction and maintenance of Arkansas’ transportation network. After hearing the Working Group’s proposals, Governor Hutchinson called a special legislative session to address highway funding and later signed the Arkansas Highway Improvement Act of 2016, which dedicates nearly $50 million additional funds for state highways in the coming year and qualifies Arkansas to receive $200 million annually in federal funding, guaranteed by FAST Act. The Governor also charged the Good Roads Foundation with researching long-term funding for state highways and presenting possible solutions in 2017.
Challenged constitutionality of Arkansas statute prohibiting information about seat belt use in civil lawsuits over vehicle crashes, and in spring of 2016, celebrated the Arkansas Supreme Court's decision in favor of ATA and striking down the statute and creating added incentives for motorists to buckle up.
Supported improvements to the Compliance, Safety, and Accountability program that provided flawed scores to third parties about carrier's crash risk, in spite of the program's seeming disconnect with crash risk. Supported lowering the age for commercial drivers to operate interstate commerce. At the end of 2015, ATA celebrated a step toward this goal when the FAST Act required the DOT to establish a pilot program for current or former members of the armed forces (or reservists) between ages 18-20, who have experience as motor transport operators, to drive trucks in interstate commerce.
Supported the use of electronic logging devices since 1999 advocating that mandated use would increase highway safety, improve industry efficiencies and build public support for the industry. The association's efforts led to the FMCSA's Final Rule on Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs), which was published at the end of 2015.
In spring of 2015, helped Arkansas become the 42nd state to pass anti-indemnification, making it illegal for shippers in Arkansas to require carriers to indemnify them as a condition for doing business.
Passed legislation defining owner operators as independent contractors and allowing them to obtain workers' compensation insurance from motor carriers to which they are leased without jeopardizing their independent status, striking the best balance between industry and owner operator interests.
Partnered with the State Chamber of Commerce to bring awareness to the career opportunities in transportation through the Be Pro Be Proud campaign. The campaign's mobile trailer visits schools and communities around the state to give students and parents an accurate picture of what it pays - and what it takes - to work in a field like trucking
Launched a media campaign to improve the image of the industry and raise the profile of truck drivers across the state as economy moves and community shapers. The television commercial received almost 3 million impressions, and the social media videos reached an additional 18,000 online users.
After years of the ATA's promoting hair testing as a satisfactory drug test because of its ability to see further into an individual's drug history, the FAST Act in 2015 mandated that the Department of Human Services must establish standards for hair testing in DOT-mandated tests, eliminating the need for hair-testing carriers to also run urine tests.
In July 2015, awarded funds through the Arkansas Commercial Truck Safety and Education Program (ACTSEP) to add a full-time safety director to provide safety and regulation expertise for ATA members and to all carriers operating in Arkansas, and to pursue programs that will promote safety on Arkansas roadways.
In 2014, convinced Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration officials to reverse their position regarding the taxation of extended warranties on tax-exempt commercial trucks, saving fleets registering their equipment in Arkansas hundreds of thousands of dollars in erroneous taxes.
Successfully urged the U.S. Congress in 2012 to compel the creation of a national drug and alcohol clearinghouse to list all persons who test positive on a pre-employment drug exam prior to becoming a commercial truck driver.
In 2011, successfully lobbied the Arkansas General Assembly to fully exempt from state sales tax the purchase price of new and used large trucks and semi-trailers that are engaged in interstate commerce (a savings of $23 million per year for Arkansas trucking companies).