Arkansas Trucking Association

You are here: Home Article Archive

2017 Arkansas Trucking Championship

tdc

 

Truck Driving Championship Winners   Technician Championship Winners

ATA would like to thank all the volunteers, sponsors, vendors, drivers, technicians, and fans that helped to make the 2017 Arkansas Trucking Championship the biggest to date!

Continue...

Up Front- Eighty-five Candles

SHANNON NEWTON ATA PRESIDENT

Shannon Newton
President, ATA

I wish I could put 85 candles on a cake and pass out slices frosted with chocolate and sprinkles to all of you because this is a big deal. As we prepare to celebrate the trucking association’s milestone anniversary, I can’t help but reflect on how amazing it is that our organization has been around for eight and a half decades.

Every day, we read about another industry on the verge of extinction. Progress comes along and renders someone’s job or even an entire industry obsolete. It makes the world better, safer, faster, more inclusive, but at the cost of careers, people who built their livelihood and identity around operating switchboards, mining coal, building shopping malls, delivering milk to neighborhood porches or renting out the latest blockbuster movies.

Continue...

The Last Word

The Power of Association

By Butch Rice

Twelve years ago, I received a call asking me to be on the Arkansas Trucking Association’s board of directors. It was one of the proudest moments of my career. I didn’t think anything could top that honor until two years ago when I accepted the baton passed from Craig Harper, COO of J.B. Hunt, as the chairman of the board.

During my time as chairman, I have tried to model the ATA’s mission statement: protect the collective interests of the industry, promote how essential trucks are to every community, and serve the members of the association so we are all better and more profitable than we were the year before.

Continue...

Up Front-High Gear

SHANNON NEWTON ATA PRESIDENT

Shannon Newton
President, ATA

The Regular Session of the 91st Arkansas General Assembly convened on January 9, 2017. The following days of the legislative session are some of the busiest days of the year for Arkansas Trucking Association.

All year, we listen to our members’ challenges in the state and identify ways we can address those challenges, and while the wheels of ATA are always moving forward, we tend to swing into high gear when our elected officials come to town.

One of the biggest issues our carrier members are currently facing is the financial uncertainty stemming from litigation following an accident. You may have seen the headlines about “nuclear verdicts” bankrupting small businesses and driving up settlement and insurance costs for even the safest carriers. Right now, there is a real opportunity to improve the legal climate in the state which will enable job growth and economic improvement.

 

Continue...

The Last Word

The Trouble with Tolls

By Stephanie Kane

For transportation professionals, 2017 is shaping up to be a year of tolling. President Donald Trump’s infrastructure plan relies on tax credits to entice the private sector to build revenue-needy projects, which would undoubtedly lead to more tolls. It’s great to see the President recognizing the need for investment, but relying on tax credits that spur privatization as the main funding mechanism for any nationwide plan will fail to close the national infrastructure deficit. At the state level, elected officials are pushing for tolling existing interstates in Rhode Island, Indiana and Wisconsin.

The Alliance for Toll-Free Interstates (ATFI) was formed to oppose such tolling efforts and educate the public about the many negative impacts that tolling existing interstates has on our communities and businesses.

 

Continue...

Up Front- Tidings of Great News

SHANNON NEWTON ATA PRESIDENT

Shannon Newton
President, ATA

The bad news first: We saw everyone's ugliest side over the last 18 months as candidates fought for competing solutions to problems in the economy, foreign policy, the environment, protecting human rights, but mostly with each other. It is apparent that Americans are still divided on an awful lot.

But the good news is the election and the time for talking about hypothetical policy is over.

And the better news? The list of divisive issues for Americans is long, but infrastructure is not on that list. Pres.-elect Trump has promised to invest $1 trillion into repairing and improving the highways, bridges, railways and airports and to do it ourselves: "Buy American and hire American." And everyone, no matter who you voted for, wants to see if and how he can do it.

Politico's Infrastructure Survey found that 80 percent of registered voters agreed that passing an infrastructure bill should be a "top" or "important priority for the federal government." There's more consensus for the urgency of fixing roads than there was for either candidate because a collapsing bridge doesn't care whose name is on your bumper sticker.

Continue...

The Last Word

An Ode to Trade

By Michael L. Ducker

We have just experienced an extraordinary election, and as with the aftermath of any major electoral change, it will take some time to sort out all of the implications to U.S. policies and programs, such as trade.

I hope we can all agree that for the United States, trading with the world isn't just an option. It's a necessity. Ninety five percent of the world's consumers are outside our borders. We have to find ways to reduce barriers to U.S. goods and services around the world so that we can reach new consumers, grow our domestic economy, and strengthen the bottom line for American families.

The fact is trade is good for--and critical to--the American economy. Exports create new markets for American-made products while imports help American families stretch their budgets by providing more choices and lower prices. Although the U.S. is the world's largest economy, 92 percent of global economic growth and 80 percent of the world's purchasing power are outside of the U.S., according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Continue...

Up Front- How We Say It

SHANNON NEWTON ATA PRESIDENT

Shannon Newton
President, ATA

We Americans love our freedom. An inalienable right, it is baked into our national identity. We are emotionally attached to making our own decisions, being our own bosses, ruling our own domains. Even when it’s not in our best interest, we cling to freedoms like eating too much or driving too fast.

So it should come as no surprise that many in the trucking industry are squirming after reading the recent proposal from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to equip heavy-duty vehicles with devices that limit their speeds on U.S. roadways and require those devices be set to a maximum speed.

Safety is the cornerstone that allows our industry to prosper. Unsafe behaviors or policies raise the risks on the roads that our families travel, they cost our industry time and money, and they endanger our most scarce, costly and valuable resource—our employees. So the notion that the trucking industry is anything other than an advocate for safe driving and roadways is baseless.

However, that notion is one we must be constantly vigilant against when opposing regulations that make us uncomfortable. Anti-trucking groups masquerading as safety advocates are always looking for ways to paint our legislative and regulatory agenda as anything but beneficial for public safety.

Continue...

The Last Word

Undecided Voters may be Running out the Clock

By Bill Vickery

So now what? Have you decided? Has this election “grabbed” you yet?

If there’s anything certain about this presidential election, it’s that uncertainty remains its central theme.

The narrative is clear. This is an election unlike any other. But with only about three weeks left before ballots are cast, undecided voters must make up their minds. The answers to several important questions may finally convince them to make a choice. Or the tabloid style campaigning (and let’s not be hypocritical here, both sides—even us simple voters—are full throttle into this type of campaigning…even if it sometimes makes us feel like we’re slowing down to look at a wreck on the side of the road) may drive many Americans to just skip voting in the presidential election.

Continue...

Up Front- The Coin Toss

SHANNON NEWTON ATA PRESIDENT

Shannon Newton
President, ATA

Finally! It’s almost over. And I can hardly contain my excitement. Like so many of you, with the end in sight, I found myself asking, “Is it over yet?”

Oh wait, did you think I was referring to the never-ending presidential election campaign?

I’m talking about something much more pleasant... football.

After 7 months without anything more than spring football, media days and those surely meaningless preseason polls, the anticipation is over.

I forgive you for thinking I was writing about the presidential campaign though. I feel your pain. I suspect—whether right, left or somewhere in between—it is wearing on us all.

Continue...

The Last Word

Delivering the Good News of Safety

By David O’Neal

You’ve read a lot about safety in the preceding pages. You’ve seen coverage of the trucking championships, both in Arkansas and at the national level – possibly the best and most tangible illustration of highway safety, given the 156 drivers who competed in Arkansas, all at least one year accident free and many with decades of blemish-free driving. Add to that the 430+ drivers from all 50 states who competed at the NTDC in Indianapolis. You read a feature on Arkansas Highway Police Major Jay Thompson – a man who has devoted his career to keeping our highways safe.

Those things are all about the good news of safety! A celebration of safety! Recognition of a safety-focused career!

Yet when I started writing this, I was headed down a path well-trod directives by safety professionals everywhere: Don’t drive distracted. Never drive impaired. How can you make safety more important to your organization? Etc. Ad nauseum.

Continue...

Up Front- Happy Birthday, Highways.

SHANNON NEWTON 2

Shannon Newton
President, ATA

The Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways turns 60 this summer. It has been called the most ambitious public works project since the age of the Roman Empire and is literally the backbone of America’s economy.

The construction of the interstate system has had a profound effect upon the American economy and contributed significantly to improved economic efficiency and productivity. The completion of the interstate system by the 1980s, coinciding with deregulation of the trucking industry, resulted in significant gains in the competitiveness of U.S. businesses.

Continuous improvement and innovation have today made "just in time" delivery widespread, mobile inventories the norm, resulting in the nation’s trucks literally becoming rolling warehouses. Growing demand has driven logistics to become increasingly efficient, including just-in-time delivery, increased small package delivery, demand-side inventory management and e-commerce.

Continue...

Trucking Delivers . . . or Everything Stops

Arkansas Trucking Association TV Spot from Arkansas Trucking Association on Vimeo.

 

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

The Last Word

The Road to Diversity

By Jeff Fleming, Guest Writer

Recently I was interviewed by Arkansas Business for an article entitled Trucking Firms Work To Diversify Industry.” I talked about how minority representation in the industry was lacking and we have a long way to go to close the gap. I am a believer that if you identify a problem, you should offer a solution.

Let me share with you a few thoughts on how we can attract and retain diverse talent in the trucking industry. First, the commitment to diversify the workforce must come from the people seated at the highest levels of the organizations. They must give the green light and be an active sponsor to build the roadmap to make this happen.

Continue...

Up Front- Win the War

shannonnewton2

Shannon Newton
President, ATA

Hi, my name is Shannon, and I am a Type A, competitive strategist. I like to win, a lot. Others might say I’m driven, ambitious or determined. But really, I just want to win.

I’m hardly alone. Many of my peers, in business and politics, share this trait.

Usually this characteristic is beneficial in our professional world, focusing individuals, pushing them to attain desired results.

At times however, we all stumble over our will to win. We lose sight of the war, for the battle right in front of us. We bicker over strategy and tactics. It’s not enough to simply win; we want our approach to deliver the victory.

Continue...

The Last Word

We’re All in Sales Now.

By Tom RicciardoneGuest Writer

I had the opportunity last year to participate on the selection panel for the inaugural Arkansas Road Team. Patterned after America’s Road Team, it is a public outreach program of professional truck drivers who share superior driving skills, remarkable safety records and a passion to spread the word about highway safety

I’ve written elsewhere that I feel very fortunate that in my communications work for the industry I’m able to spend time with truck drivers.

Continue...

Fighting Modern-Day Slavery from the Road

Official TAT Chrome Logo R

Truckers Against Trafficking enlists the trucking industry to the effort to end human trafficking

By Jennifer Barnett Reed, Contributing Writer

Kevin Kimmel could have just minded his own business that cold January morning. He could have looked the other way, told himself the men knocking on the door of the RV parked two slots down from him behind the truck stop was none of his business. He could have explained away the scared face of the girl who peeked briefly out from behind the RV’s closed curtains before someone jerked them closed again. He could have just closed his own truck cab’s curtains and gotten some sleep after a long night of driving and deliveries.

Instead, he listened to his gut and made a phone call. A few minutes later, he watched as police knocked on the door of the RV parked two slots down from him at the rural Virginia truck stop where he’d stopped to rest. He watched as the scared, emaciated young woman came out and talked to the officers. Watched as they called an ambulance to take her away and as they handcuffed the other two people in the RV, a man and woman. 

Kimmel, then a driver for Con-way Freight, learned later that the young woman was a victim of human trafficking. The couple police arrested had kidnapped her in another state, and for two weeks they had tortured her, starved her, raped her, and sold her for sex as they traveled from truck stop to truck stop.

Kimmel’s phone call most likely saved her life. Because of his decision to get involved, the young woman is now back home with her family, and her kidnappers are in federal prison. 

Back in January 2015, Kimmel had never heard of Truckers Against Trafficking, a nationwide organization that works to leverage the eyes and ears of truck drivers and other industry employees in the fight against human trafficking. He hadn’t been taught what signs to look for, and he didn’t know about the national hotline he could have called to make an anonymous report. He might not have even thought to use the phrase “human trafficking” to describe what he was seeing. But he did exactly what Truckers Against Trafficking’s founders hope to empower all truck drivers and truck stop employees to do: He kept his eyes open, and he told someone what he saw.

“That’s the power of the trucking industry recognizing [trafficking] and doing something about it,” said Kylla Lanier, the organization’s co-founder and deputy executive director.

Human trafficking is a worldwide problem that reaches into just about every industry, Lanier said. Lanier is a former teacher and missionary, but she and her mother and sisters were moved to found Truckers Against Trafficking after reading a book about the issue and realizing what a powerful force truck drivers and truck stop employees could be in the effort to free victims of modern-day slavery.

Since the organization was founded in 2009, it has partnered with almost every state trucking association in the United States, as well as national trucking associations, major corporations, law enforcement agencies, trucking schools and other groups. It provides DVDs, informational wallet cards, posters and other materials at no cost, and to date has registered more than 166,000 trucking industry employees as “TAT trained.”

Kimmel is now one of them.

“It was an eye-opening experience for me,” Kimmel said. “Since then I’ve followed Truckers Against Trafficking and have helped however I can.”

Joining the Cause

The Arkansas Trucking Association is one of the latest state trucking associations to formally partner with Truckers Against Trafficking. Lanier spoke to the ATA Safety Management Council in December, and attendees “wiped out” a box of training materials, Lanier said.

 “Everybody in that room committed in whatever way they could,” she said. Trucking companies promised to train all their employees, and an insurance company representative asked for training materials to pass out to the company’s carrier clients.

TATinfographicTruckers Against Trafficking has three goals, Lanier said. First, they want to reach the trucking industry through every avenue possible. They work with trucking schools, national and state trucking associations, carriers, even shippers who contract with carriers and are in a position to influence them to include TAT training for their drivers.

Second, they work with law enforcement to get them into the same room with key trucking industry stakeholders for training sessions.

And third, they want to marshal the resources of the trucking industry to help in the fight against human trafficking. A number of major national companies have already signed on as corporate sponsors, Lanier said.

The trucking industry is in a unique position to help fight human trafficking, said Shannon Newton, president of the Arkansas Trucking Association.

“It takes advantage of truck drivers’ expertise, where they spend their time, where they do their work, in order to leverage that and be good citizens,” Newton said. “We want our drivers to be equipped with information and know what to look for and whom to call. They might see something but don’t want to be perceived as a tattletale. So having this centralized hotline specifically targeted toward human trafficking gives drivers the opportunity to say ‘This is what I saw.’ It gives them a safe place to call and try to be proactive and helpful.”

The hotline — 888-373-7888 — is run by the National Human Trafficking Resource Center. It is staffed around the clock, and drivers don’t have to share their personal information or speak directly to law enforcement if they don’t want to.

The TAT training is simple, but it’s proving to be very effective. Kimmel’s may be the best-known story of a truck driver helping identify a victim of human trafficking, but it’s far from the only one.

Lives saved

Already, more than 1,200 calls have come to the national hotline from the trucking industry — calls that helped identify close to 400 possible cases of human trafficking involving 692 victims, 234 of whom were minors.

“It’s working,” Lanier said. “We get to hear really cool things.” In Ontario, Calif., she said, a security guard at a truck stop who’d been trained using Truckers Against Trafficking’s materials noticed suspicious activities going on at a motel across the street. After he called the hotline, law enforcement arrested three traffickers and recovered several victims — including a minor.

The warning signs of human trafficking can be subtle, Lanier said. A lot of times, people who appear to be voluntarily working as prostitutes are actually under the control of a pimp. They may have been coerced or forced into prostitution initially and kept there by threats or beatings. If the person is a minor, she said, that’s the only thing that matters: Under federal law, anyone under the age of 18 who is being sold for sex is a victim of human trafficking.

The woman may be bruised, or talk about needing to make a certain amount of money before she can go home. She may have a branding tattoo — something as blatant as a bar code, or phrases like “cash only,” “Daddy’s girl,” “money maker,” even just the pimp’s name.

“They brand them like cattle a lot of times,” Lanier said.

Drivers might also notice two women — one older, one younger — going together from truck to truck or into a motel. The older one might be working for the trafficker — a victim herself, told she has to train the younger one. The trafficker might drop someone off at the cab of a truck and come back 15 minutes later to pick her up. There might be, as in Kevin Kimmel’s case, a van or an RV parked where it wouldn’t normally be, with men coming in and out of it.

“We got a tip from a trucker’s wife about a van at a truck stop in Brownsville, Texas,” Lanier said. “Men were purchasing girls brought over the border.”

Lanier understands that drivers might be reluctant to get involved. That’s why the hotline is completely confidential. What they need to do in return, though, is try to give as much information about the situation as they can to the hotline so law enforcement will have enough details to take action, Lanier said: Location, time, exactly what’s happening, any license plate numbers or vehicle descriptions.

The trucking industry’s response and willingness to get involved sets it apart, Lanier said, and both Congress and the United Nations have taken notice of its efforts.

“Sex trafficking and labor trafficking happen in every industry around the world,” she said. “It is the trucking industry that has stood up and said ‘We’re not going to bury our heads. We’re going to do something about it.’”

For more information, visit www.truckersagainsttrafficking.org.

Make it Better. Faster. Stronger.

amazon truck illustration

Could Amazon.com’s logistics network compete with the trucking industry?

By Bethany May, Managing Editor

 

In December, news broke that Amazon.com, the nation’s largest internet retailer, had purchased a fleet of shipping trailers. Within a few weeks, there were rumors that the e-commerce company had also acquired a fleet of cargo planes to connect its large network of warehouses around the country. And on January 15, the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission granted Amazon a license to operate cargo shipments between China and the U.S.

Before many of us had taken down all the Christmas decorations and remembered to hang the new calendar, Amazon had begun to take control of its own operations on the land, in the air and at sea. And while there still is no clearance for commercial drones to operate deliveries in the U.S., the Seattle-based company has already been exploring that option in anticipation of the federal regulations that have yet to be written.

There’s a lot of speculation about what it means for transportation when one of the largest retailers in the country starts making logistical changes. The headlines have ranged from “Here’s How Amazon Could Offer Its Own Delivery Service and Crush UPS and FedEx” and “Amazon.com’s Next Move Could Be Bigger Than the iPhone,” to “No, Amazon Isn’t Planning to Kill FedEx” and “Amazon Logistics & The Soon to Fail Experiment.”

What is hyperbole and what are the real effects that Amazon’s operations decisions will have on the industry? Should we have expected these changes?

Brent Williams, chair of the department of supply chain management at the University of Arkansas’ Walton College of Business says, “I think in a lot of ways, it's not surprising.”

“It's not unusual for a large retailer to start to bring some of their transportation needs under their own control,” he says. “We see it with other large retailers, where they have large private fleets and then a large part of their transportation business is outsourced to other carriers.”

The more important question he wants us to ask is “What is going on in retail right now as an industry that is going to change trucking business?”

For Williams, the answer is omnichannel fulfillment.

If you’re thinking, omnichannel what? Williams defines the term like this: “This really means that shoppers can purchase across a retailer’s platforms in many different ways. That means in stores. It means online. It means mobile. Maybe even more specifically, it means, those channels can blur.”

The way that customers increasingly want more options for not just what they buy, but how they buy is what can drive changes to the system.

And that customer as catalyst is echoed in Amazon’s comments about their new fleets, “We are always looking for ways to innovate for customers. These new trailers empower Amazon to speed up order delivery times for customers and offer later order cut-off times by increasing capacity for Amazon package delivery between fulfillment centers.”

Increased control over its delivery network seems like a natural extension of the company’s custom-focused philosophy on innovation.

Williams agrees that certain retail trends show consumers demanding more personalization, and when it comes to delivery, consumers are not only demanding faster, but they are also demanding delivery within specific time windows.

“For example, if I work 8-5 in the office and get home at 6,” Williams explains, “and I'm getting groceries delivered to my door. I really don't want them delivered at 10 am.”

Amazon Fresh offers the service Williams references, and it isn’t alone. Walmart and other grocers are delivering products that once only shut-ins and the elderly may have ordered.

Retail History in the Making

E-commerce itself, with Amazon.com at the helm, is changing freight business because the model allows consumers to have more say in fulfillment and delivery.

“If you look at the retail industry, it has kind of gone from mom and pop general store in a local community to a period in the 60s or 70s when the department store was king. Then, in the 80s, when mass retailers and big box retailers started to roll out, you started to see a consolidation in the industry.”

Now, the pull of e-commerce and the increased power of the consumer deconsolidates the retail systems of the past.

“In some ways, the revolution feels a little bit unprecedented,” Williams says.

“There are people out there that say, ‘The brick and mortar store is going to die,’ and I couldn't disagree with that more. I do think that the role of the brick and mortar store changes over time. And it becomes more integrated with a retailer's digital interface with the customer,” Williams explains.

“I think about subscription services from Walmart.com or Amazon.com or whoever that is, the way that we start to have good ready-for-pick-up-at-store or site-to-store services. All of that is leading me to say that shipments are going to continue to be decreasing in size.”

So while the headlines about Amazon’s delivery service sinking other carriers like FedEx and UPS seem far-fetched, the impact of internet retailers responding to the demands for faster and smaller deliveries is real.

How will the networks have to split an order to still get efficiencies?

Williams predicts that the networks are going to shift in some way, but he is hesitant to say how. “I don't know exactly how. I think that to maintain efficiency, those retailers and transportation companies have to collaborate and actually have to share data.”


Faster isn’t Free.

During Christmas of 2013, peak shipping season, disappointed Amazon.com customers found that thousands of packages wouldn’t be delivered until December 26. Even if the packages contained horseshoes or hand grenades, almost on time really doesn’t count on Christmas morning.

Analysts speculated that when Amazon’s carriers couldn’t keep up with demand during its peak, it was inevitable that new solutions would have to be found.

Covenant Transportation Group executive commented in January on news that Amazon was acquiring its own trailers. The company works closely with Amazon, specializing in expedited shipments.

"They're growing so dramatically that it's hard for anybody to keep up with what they are doing in the marketplace," said Joey Hogan, Covenant's CEO, on the company's quarterly earnings call. "They need every truck they can get their hands on."

Doug Voss, associate professor at the University of Central Arkansas, explains that there are two reasons to start a private fleet: 1) the company has enough volume to do its shipping cheaper and/or 2) the company has strict enough service needs that existing carriers can’t meet those needs.

As Amazon continues to add subscribers to its prime service, more customers are promised free two-day shipping on a large percentage of the website’s offerings. Consumer Intelligence Research Partners reported the number of Amazon Prime memberships increased 35 percent in 2015 to a total of 54 million, almost half of American households.

Amazon’s existing carriers couldn’t meet service needs December 2013, and as more online shoppers learn to expect free two-day shipping, the risk that there’s another service failure increases.

Brent Williams has been conducting soon-to-be-published research on customer preference and expectation when there is a stock outage at a brick and mortar store. Looking at the influence of speed and the influence of convenience, his research team found that preference is for speed when replacing that out-of-stock item. Williams argues that there’s a dissonance between consumer demand for speed and an understanding of how much it costs.

“I think a real question has to be asked of ourselves as consumers, how much of the speed are we willing to pay for? Right now, so much of the cost in online from a shipping standpoint is not exposed to us as the consumer, so if I expect free shipping, in reality, we know that the shipping really isn't free.”

Whether speedy shipping costs are passed on to the customer in a transparent, line-item way in the future is anyone’s guess, but customers don’t seem to mind the fee rolled into a subscription service.

They do seem to want their deliveries even faster than the two days allowed in Prime membership shipments; Amazon has recently rolled out one hour delivery on certain orders in select cities.

So how does Amazon’s race to the customer affect trucking?

Amazon won’t be putting trucking companies out of business, but if we do see Amazon as a new player in the logistics market, there could certainly be a real impact based on the size and influence of a company like Amazon.

Voss doesn’t see Amazon clearing the obstacles of building a sophisticated carrier empire any time soon, particularly when it comes to drones. “This is a somewhat pie in the sky thing. It sounds good. It’s a great idea, but there are so many regulatory hurdles that [they] will have to jump.”

The circumstances for this to really be a game changer?

“IF” he stresses, “it’s successful on a large scale, then there could be an impact on the industry. It will have some impact, for some carriers, in some lanes.” He emphasizes the qualifier some.

Williams agrees that it’s too hyperbolic to call Amazon’s entry into the industry a “game changer” or “disruption.”

“My view tends to be that it will increase competition, and I actually think that it will make the carriers even better at what they do. But I suspect that anytime that you introduce competition, the margin is just going to get more efficient. The really good carriers are going to respond to that.”

To compete, carriers may have to offer a broader set of solutions to their customers. “Because the way that retailers were shipping 10 years ago may not be the way that they are going to be shipping now or in 5 years from now,” Williams says.

Instead, he urges carriers to think beyond the possibility of competition with Amazon. “I think the thing to be thinking about if I'm a transportation executive is the way the shopper is buying, giving them power will affect the things will ship in some way, shape, or form. And carriers need to be able to create a broad enough portfolio of services or connect with the right companies that make them a part of that network.”

The bottom line is it’s “too early to tell,” Voss says. “We’ll just have to see how it all pans out.”

While it may be too early to forecast the disruption of freight as we know it, Amazon certainly seems to be taking advantage of all the tools in its belt and even creating some new ones to answer customer demand for “faster, faster.”

Rule Spells Out, Bans 'Coercion'

coercion img

New rule defines ‘driver coercion’ and demands lofty penalties for perpetrators

By Steve Brawner, Contributing Writer

 

 A new FMCSA rule is meant to protect drivers from being coerced to violate rules by carriers, shippers, receivers and intermediaries.

The rule works in carriers’ favor by discouraging shippers from trying to force drivers to violate hours-of-service limits, CDL rules, drug and alcohol testing rules, and regulations governing hazardous materials.

But it also applies to carriers, and that could be a problem, said Dean Newell, Maverick Transportation vice president of safety and training.

Carrier’s burden

“It kind of takes us out of the shipper saying, ‘This is the load, and if you want to continue doing business with us, you’re going to have to get it there.’ It stops all that stuff,” he said. “But on the flip side of that, it puts us right back in the middle of it. … If a driver’s disgruntled and he can make the accusation, then it’s up to us to do all the back office work in order to defend it. So to me, that’s not good.”

MAP-21, the nation’s previous surface transportation law passed in 2012, required the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to create such a rule, which went into effect Jan. 29. Under the rule, drivers must make a complaint about coercion within 90 days of the incident. Penalties can be as high as $16,000 per violation, which will be deposited into the Highway Trust Fund.

The agency’s fines are usually limited to 2 percent of a firm’s gross revenue. However, the Federal Register published Nov. 30 states, “FMCSA will take aggressive action when a violation of the prohibition against coercion can be substantiated. This action will include civil penalties consistent with the regulations, and may include initiation of a proceeding to revoke the operating authority of a for-hire motor carrier.”

The obvious concern is that drivers will make unsubstantiated claims for one reason or another. Prasad Sharma, an attorney partner at Scopelitis, Garvin, Light, Hanson & Feary, which represents motor carriers and intermediaries, said the FMCSA took that possibility into account.

“I would hope that’s not a frequent occurrence, but I think that does happen, and I think FMCSA recognized that in the rulemaking,” he said. “In fact, it kind of went out of its way to say, ‘Well, we may not pursue all claims. That doesn’t mean they’re false claims. It just means they’re unsubstantiated.’”

The agency published its notice of proposed rulemaking May 13, 2014, and received 90 submissions. The American Trucking Associations supported a ban on coercion but expressed concern about the rule’s effect on motor carriers’ relations with shippers, receivers and brokers. Others worried about unintended consequences, such as unfair allegations made by drivers. Concerns were expressed regarding whether entities would have to inquire as to the number of hours a driver had driven.

Room for improvement

Richard Pianka, ATA general counsel, said his group was supportive of the concept but concerned about the details, such as how to define “coercion.” He said ATA was generally pleased with the way FMCSA addressed those concerns.

“We definitely don’t think that anybody should be urging drivers to violate the hours of service rules,” he said. “We think compliance of hours of service rules is important, and so we certainly support in general FMCSA taking steps to ensure that nobody’s pushing drivers to drive outside their hours. … It’s a new rule, and like any new rule, we’ll have to see exactly how it plays out in practice.”

The final rule was amended to require the driver to make a specific objection in order for coercion to occur. That was a good change from the ATA’s perspective, Pianka said, because it means carriers and shippers won’t be required to guess at how much time a driver has left. Instead, the driver must object at the time the request is made and will have to show coercion occurred.

Sharma, a former American Trucking Associations general counsel, said other improvements would have kept the regulation out of some gray areas. While he’s glad that drivers must affirmatively object to a potential rules violation, he wishes the FMCSA would have required them to record their objections in writing at the time of the alleged incident. Such a move would help resolve disputes, he said.

Asked if a driver could be expected to do that in the moment, he said, “It seems to me if the driver is concerned enough that there’s going to be a violation, asking the driver to put that down at the time they’re making the objection would not be too far a step.”

Maverick’s Newell said the rule was needed in order for the FMCSA to implement its new rule requiring motor carriers to install electronic logging devices in trucks, a measure Maverick and the Arkansas Trucking Association support.

But he is also concerned about potential unforeseen effects.

“We’ve always been good when the driver said, ‘I’m tired;’ we just automatically shut them down,” he said. “My biggest fear, though, is, ‘OK, well, we shut them down and they miss a load that was going to get them home, are they going to construe that as coercion?”

One area that’s clear: A shipper or receiver can order a driver off its property, even if the driver claims he’s out of hours, without being guilty of coercion. The rule recognizes that property owners have a right to control access to their property, Sharma said.

Coercion count

The Federal Register documents that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration had determined that 253 whistleblower complaints against employers from 2009 through 2012 by drivers had merit (out of 1,158 complaints), while FMCSA had validated 20 allegations by drivers that they had been coerced by carriers (out of 91 complaints). Those complaints were all against employers, while the rule also applies to shippers, receivers and brokers.

The Register reported that drivers testifying at FMCSA listening sessions and before Congress said they were being coerced by carriers, shippers, receivers and others to deliver loads that would force them to violate hours of service and other regulations, or to operate vehicles with mechanical problems.

“The consequences of their refusal to do so are either stated explicitly or implied in unmistakable terms: Loss of a job, denial of subsequent loads, reduced payment, denied access to the best trips, etc.,” the Register said.

For carriers, it’s long been illegal to try to coerce a driver to violate rules, so the new rule may not be a “sea change” for them, Sharma said.

However, the rule brings shippers, receivers and intermediaries under the FMCSA’s regulatory realm. Pianka said the ATA will be looking to see how much overlap there will be between this rule and existing whistleblower protections enforced by OSHA. He said the ATA is concerned about potential duplicative enforcement now that a new procedure and a new enforcement agency have been added to the mix.

“On the whole, we think that shippers and intermediaries and so on should be our partners,” he said. “We should all be committed to drivers operating within the rules, and this extends prohibitions that motor carriers have always been under.”

Bruce Carlton, president and CEO of the National Industrial Transportation League, a shipper group, said that while the rule’s initial draft was too vague, the final rule is “a perfectly livable solution.”

Under the rule’s original wording, a shipper could have violated the rule by telling one carrier that its driver’s potential hours of service violation forced it to find another carrier – the argument being that the first carrier was being “coerced” by the threat of a loss of future business. That possibility eventually was dropped in the final rule.

“There was sort of an ambiguous sense that having direct normal business conversations could somehow be deemed to be coercion, and our reading of the final rule says that a shipper or receiver can have those normal conversations that they would encounter with any service supplier, and not have that translated immediately into a coercion,” he said.

He said an example would be, “You keep sending me drivers who only have 30 minutes left on their hours of service. I’ve got a seven-hour haul here. Why are you doing this?’”

“That’s not coercion,” he said. “That’s just saying, ‘Look, we need a better relationship between our companies.’”

For safety’s sake

He said shippers, like carriers, have no interest in taking actions that result in a safety issue or rules violation. “Bluntly, if there is a bad shipper out there who is in fact twisting arms on a driver to violate a rule, well, maybe that shipper should be taken out of the picture, right?” he said. “The highways are there to service the trade, and we all want them to be as safe as possible.”

Chris Burroughs, senior government affairs manager with the Transportation Intermediaries Association, said the FMCSA did listen to the various groups’ concerns as it improved its original approach. Changes eliminated what he called a “known or should have known” provision that placed too much responsibility on shippers, receivers and intermediaries who could not be expected to know what rules a driver would potentially violate. That rule would have been potentially perilous for intermediaries, whose industry standard is to avoid direct communication with drivers.

“In the proposed rule, they wanted the brokers to reach out to the carriers or to the specific driver and say, ‘Hey, do you have enough hours for this?’ We strongly oppose our guys doing that,” he said.

Maverick’s Newell said in an interview Jan. 11 that his company doesn’t “foresee a huge problem internally on our company.” The carrier had already started having classes to train employees on how to comply with the rule. Executives and operations personnel were practicing responses to various scenarios.

“Everybody’s got to be on the same page. … It needs to be a consistent message across the board,” he said. “‘We are not going to do this.’ ‘This cannot be said like this.’ Things like that.”

He said that, as with other areas of trucking, communication and relationships will be important in successfully navigating the regulatory environment. Maverick’s technology enables its back office employees to estimate how many hours a driver has been on the road. It’s accurate to the point where the driver approved his logs, and an internal system has been built that can predict when a driver will arrive at the destination. It can predict hours of service accurately, but not exactly. So the carrier must still communicate with the person operating the 80,000-pound vehicle, and for that communication to occur successfully, trust must be built.

“People forget, this is still a people business,” he said. “People come first. You’ve got to have relationships with the drivers.”

The Arkansas Top 10

top10

ATRI’s reports top ten trucking concerns in Arkansas

Rebecca M. Brewster, Guest Writer

Trucking is big business in Arkansas. The industry employs over 82,000 individuals in the state, meaning one out of every 12 employees statewide has a trucking-related job. And, trucks transport more than 80 percent of manufactured freight moved in the state.

It’s clear the trucking industry matters to Arkansas. So, with an industry that important, what are the issues of most concern to motor carriers in the state? The annual Top Industry Issues Survey provides some insight.

Since 2005, the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) has been surveying motor carriers and commercial drivers nationwide to identify those issues which have the greatest impact on the industry. And, for each issue identified in the survey, industry stakeholders are also asked to rank potential strategies for addressing each. The annual survey results are released every October, and the 2015 results show some disparities in ranking the issues between the national results and those generating from Arkansas-based motor carriers.

 First, there are similarities between the rankings. Arkansas motor carriers agree with their peers across the country that the top five issues confronting the industry are regulatory- (HOS, CSA), workforce- (Driver Shortage and Driver Retention) and infrastructure- (Truck Parking) related. But the rankings of those top five issues highlight some differences.

Workforce Woes

Arkansas motor carriers place a higher ranking, or level of concern, on the workforce issues of Driver Shortage and Driver Retention. Given that Arkansas is home to five of the nation’s largest for-hire motor carriers and two of the largest private fleets, this should not come as a surprise. Filling seats with qualified, safe drivers is a top priority for motor carriers large and small, and, once those driver positions are filled, keeping those drivers is critical. The American Trucking Associations estimates that the industry currently has a shortage of 48,000 drivers, with projections that the number will increase to 175,000 by 2024.  

The top strategy for dealing with the driver shortage as ranked by respondents (Arkansas and nationally) is to work with state and federal authorities to consider a graduated CDL program to safely attract new and younger drivers. The $305 billion FAST Act, signed into law last December, allows the U.S. Department of Transportation to create a pilot program for 18-20 year olds to drive interstate if they have a military background that included truck driving experience.

As a way to address driver retention, Arkansas survey respondents ranked as their top strategy to study the effectiveness of carrier retention programs that financially incentivize drivers for performance in the areas of safety, fuel economy and trip productivity.

Regulation Frustration

Coming behind driver issues, Arkansas respondents ranked the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program as their third top concern. A myriad of challenges with CSA likely resulted in its top five ranking both nationally and among Arkansas respondents.

A number of studies, including research by ATRI, have documented that CSA’s safety measures, the seven Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs) under which carriers and drivers are scored, are not a good predictor of carrier crash risk. Additionally, there are disparities in how states collect and report safety performance data, and shippers are potentially misusing the data in the selection of carriers to haul freight.

This is another issue that was subsequently addressed in the five-year FAST Act. In it, Congress directed FMCSA to remove from public view motor carrier BASIC scores until the underlying issues with the Safety Measurement System (SMS) are corrected and additional research done to identify if the BASICs are accurate predictors of crash risk.

The top strategy identified in this year’s survey for addressing CSA is to push for a crash accountability determination process that removes non-preventable crashes from carrier scores. In November of last year, ATRI published a new study which investigated the impact that excluding non-preventable crashes would have on motor carrier CSA Crash Indicator BASIC measures. Among the fifteen carriers in ATRI’s analysis, the Crash Indicator BASIC decreased nearly 15 percent once a subset of five non-preventable crash types were removed.

The number one issue identified in the national survey and ranking fourth among Arkansas respondents was concern over the Hours-of-Service (HOS) rules. The HOS rules have topped the industry’s list of concerns for three consecutive years (2013-2015) and have been in the top five nationally since the survey was first conducted in 2005, driven primarily by the continued changes to and uncertainty surrounding the future of the rules; 2015 was no different.

While the industry experienced some relief in December of 2014 with the suspension of the Hours-of-Service (HOS) restart provisions which were originally put in to effect in July of 2013, the potential for reimplementation of the rules following the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) congressionally required study of the impacts of the provisions continues to generate concern.

Parking Panic

The number five issue, truck parking, continues to receive increased attention as the growing scarcity of available parking creates a dangerous situation for truck drivers who are often forced to drive beyond allowable HOS rules or park in undesignated and, in many cases, unsafe locations. As such, the top strategy ranked by survey respondents is to support and encourage investment in new truck parking facilities, while also encouraging states to reopen shuttered facilities.

And other worries

Among Arkansas respondents, concern over the state of the nation’s economy ranked sixth overall; on the national survey it came in as the eighth ranking issue. Other than the commercial driver HOS rules, the economy is the only issue to rank first on the list for three consecutive years (2009-2011), which it did during the Great Recession. In the 2014 survey, the economy dropped to ninth place but started to climb up as an issue in 2015. This may be driven, in part, by more recent concerns over softer freight demand and what that may mean for 2016, as well as concerns over the economies in Europe and Asia, and export impacts from a strong U.S. dollar.

Among Arkansas respondents, the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate ranked seventh overall, one position lower than it did in the national results. In March 2104, FMCSA issued a Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (SNPR) to address a number of concerns identified by industry stakeholders in the initial ELD proposed rule. At the time the survey was conducted, the industry was still awaiting issuance of the final rule, likely keeping this issue in the top 10. The final rule has now been published by FMCSA and for the most part, the strategies identified by survey respondents for dealing with the issue have been addressed in the final rule. Those strategies included ensuring that the ELD mandate did not require that the devices be capable of creating hard-copy HOS records; grandfathering in existing devices installed by early adopters; and ensuring that the two-year implementation window not be extended.

With the final rule issued, the ELD mandate may see a change in ranking in the 2016 Top Industry Issues Survey (to be launched in August 2016) driven more by any remaining issues or concerns that carriers and drivers have as ELDs are deployed.

Driver health and wellness continues to climb in ranking, this year reaching seventh in the overall survey, its highest position to date. Many in the industry recognize the critical connection between improved driver health and wellness and the industry’s ability to retain qualified drivers. As such, more and more fleets are deploying health and wellness programs for their drivers.

The state of the nation’s transportation infrastructure ranked ninth in this year’s overall survey. The negative impacts of congestion, failing roads and bridges and the need for a long-term transportation funding solution all combined to keep this issue in the top ten in 2015. The top strategy for dealing with infrastructure as identified by survey respondents is to advocate for long-term highway funding through an increase in the fuel tax or other user fees, and prevent additional diversion of revenue to non-highway projects.

Finally, Arkansas respondents identified a different top 10 issue in tenth place – Drug and Alcohol Testing – with the top strategy identified as advocating for carriers to have the option of using hair samples in lieu of urine for some categories of required drug tests. This represents yet another issue that has subsequently been addressed in the FAST Act of 2015 which requires the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to set standards for hair testing.

The annual Top Industry Issues Survey provides an important indicator of where trucking’s attention is focused and which issues may rise to prominence in the near future. It’s an important tool for providing direction to industry groups at the state and national levels in terms of the issues and strategies that motor carriers and drivers believe will have the most impact on the industry for years to come. Armed with this information, state trucking associations and the American Trucking Associations are better equipped to address the issues more broadly and proactively.

ATRI is the trucking industry’s 501(c)(3) not-for-profit research organization. It is engaged in critical research relating to freight transportation’s essential role in maintaining a safe, secure and efficient transportation system. A copy of the 2015 Critical Issues in the Trucking Industry report is available from ATRI at www.atri-online.org.

Up Front- Take the Field

shannonnewton2

 Shannon Newton
 President, ATA

There is a universal rule in baseball about playing the outfield with a lead, especially a two-run lead in the bottom of the 9th. Under no circumstances can the ball be hit over an outfielder’s head. It’s called no-doubles defense.

In Game 6 of the 2011 World Series, the Texas Rangers were one strike away from defeating the St. Louis Cardinals and securing their first World Series championship.

Exceptionally talented, trained, professional athletes were in position. Rangers’ right-fielder Nelson Cruz’s positioning was a non-issue until the Cardinals’ David Freese swung at a 1-and-2 fastball with two runners on base.

The ball was hit directly toward Cruz. He reacted poorly, tried to recover unsuccessfully. Both runners scored on what became a triple for Freese. And the rest, as they say, is history. Both runners scored, extending the game. The Rangers went on to lose in extra innings and Game 7 as well.

Continue...

The Last Word

We’re Gonna Do What They Say Can’t Be Done.

By Andy Davis, Guest Writer

After months of the Governor’s Highway Funding Work Group meetings, Governor Asa Hutchinson announced his proposals for additional highway funding to a large crowd on Tuesday January 19, 2016.

Some of the ideas presented in the working group are included in the Governors proposal. The plan includes transferring $4 million ($2.7 to the state, $1.3 to cities & counties) in existing diesel taxes from general revenue back to highways, $5.4 million in revenue from the ½ cent sales tax approved by voters that is currently directed to the central services fund. That is the fund that pays for elected official’s offices.

Continue...

Up Front- Making it Count

shannonnewton2

 Shannon Newton
 President, ATA

Progress can be hard to measure. Bringing about change is often a slow process. However, this year has produced several notable pieces of legislation and regulation that have been a long time coming, bringing with them meaningful change for the industry in Arkansas and across the nation.

As 2015 began our association had a lofty agenda including relationship building, legislation passing and regulation monitoring. Our top legislative priority last January was to pass anti-indemnification legislation. Arkansas was one of very few states that still allowed shippers to force liability onto carriers no matter the circumstances. With the help of our members, the bill halting this practice passed through both chambers in March and was signed into law by Governor Asa Hutchinson. A win three years in the making.

Continue...

The Last Word

The Conservative Choice

By John Burris, Guest Writer

The field of candidates for the Republican Party presidential nomination is large in size and heavy on experience.

The Obama years have given us Christie, Rubio, Sandoval and others, just like the Bush years gave us McCaskill, Franken, and Obama. So the 2016 race is littered with governors, senators and other leaders who all have accomplishment to talk about. It should be a conservative year. We have some level of competing messages and personalities. That means Republicans have options.

Predictions are always foolish. Hundreds of events, fundraisers and gaffes stand between the present and the final decision of the future.

Continue...

Up Front- If Not Us, Then Who?

shannonnewton2

 Shannon Newton
 President, ATA

Earlier this week, at a nearby terminal, one of our newly minted Arkansas Road Team Captains did his first piece for a local news crew on distracted driving. There was excitement and nervousness.

Any opportunity to educate the public on how to safely share the road with tractor-trailers and demonstrate the industry’s commitment to safety is worth seizing.

I was fortunate to serve on the road team selection panel. It was one of my greatest days on the job. All the candidates gave compelling presentations. All spoke passionately, with pride and hard earned wisdom from years—if not decades—behind the wheel, about all that is right in trucking. It was truly moving. I cannot wait to get these captains in front of Arkansans to help educate motorists about safety and our industry.

 

Continue...

The Last Word

What if You're the Answer to the Driver Shortage

By Rebecca M. Brewster Guest Writer

Last December, ATRI issued a report that documented what many of you already suspected was occurring in the trucking industry—our workforce is aging, and we’re not bringing in young people to replace those who have spent a lifetime delivering the nation’s freight.

The ATRI analysis, which utilized data from the U.S. Census Bureau, highlights a challenging future for the trucking industry based on demographic data and a dramatic upward shift in the average age of the industry’s driver workforce.

Continue...

Up Front- Captain Obvious

shannonnewton2

 Shannon Newton
 President, ATA

The fact that America’s infrastructure is crumbling is not in dispute. The hard part? Finding the will to pay more for it.

It’s no surprise. There are few things more contentious in politics and in our national discourse than taxes. States all across the country, and elected representatives in Washington DC are grappling with how to generate enough revenue to support not only current spending but the higher levels needed to make improvements to the system.

Our nation’s roads and bridges are funded by fuel tax—a fuel tax that hasn’t been adjusted to keep pace with inflation in decades.   As receipts dwindle due to increased fuel efficiency, there is palpable pressure to find new, viable road funding mechanisms.

Continue...

The Last Word

Catching the Spirit

By Butch Rice Guest Writer

When I woke up Saturday morning, June 13 in Rogers, Ark., I didn’t know what to expect. For the first time, I was at the John Q. Hammons Center for the Arkansas Truck Driving Championship. Some six hundred in attendance, including drivers, volunteers and supporters from all over the state showed up for an exciting weekend of competition.

As I walked around that morning, I felt like I was at a Razorback football game. Decorated tents lined the perimeter of the course where fans from each company’s driving team had set up banners, signs, pom-poms and all the evidence of team spirit. The drivers were dressed in their company colors, while anticipation ran through them as they walked the course for the first and last time before they competed.

Continue...

Up Front- Bridge to Broke

shannonnewton2

 Shannon Newton
 President, ATA

If you are one of the Northern Virginia to Washington D.C. commuters (members of Congress excepted) affected by the recent and widely publicized Memorial Bridge lane closures, know that I feel your pain.

It is fitting that the most recent example of failed transportation funding efforts is a highly-travelled bridge in our nation’s capital’s backyard. The emergency repairs for the Memorial Bridge serve as a symbolic and timely rallying cry for Congressional action.

With the bridge as their backdrop, Virginia Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, along with D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton and Virginia Rep. Don Beyer, called for long-term congressional investment in transportation infrastructure. "There is nothing more emblematic of Congress’ failure to invest in our nation’s infrastructure than the bridge that brings people into our nation’s capital, a national memorial, falling apart,” Beyer stated.

Continue...

The Last Word

Technology Gains and Losses

By Paul Enos, CEO of Nevada Trucking Association

I couldn't make it to Las Vegas on May 6, when Daimler Trucks tested their autonomous driving software on the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. I sent our Member Relations Director Kim Yaeger to the press conference and demonstration. 

While she was in Las Vegas, I was at a board meeting of the Hays Truck Museum, currently in a warehouse while money is raised for a new museum wing. We were looking at trucks ranging from a 1903 Knox to a 1979 cab over Ford. 

Continue...

Up Front- Won - Not Done

shannonnewton2

 Shannon Newton
 President, ATA

Grown men huddled around water-coolers talking Cinderella, bracket busting, buzzer beaters, jubilant celebrations and teary-eyed defeats are all part of the hoopla and frenzy that is March Madness. This single-elimination tournament between 68 teams determines the national champion in college basketball. The phrase March Madness references the excitement, passion, unpredictability and craziness surrounding the tournament.

While the country celebrates this annual rite, a debate has emerged over the “one and done” rule by which the NBA requires players be one year removed from high school, before entering the draft or signing to play professionally. One and done describes a player who attends college for one, obligatory year before bolting for the prosperity of the NBA.

Continue...

The Last Word

Nostalgic Investment

By Steve Williams, Chairman & CEO of Maverick USA

Nostalgic? Perhaps. I remember my Dad and grandfather's 160 horsepower KB 6 Internationals roaring across Missouri on US 40. I remember when the Interstate System didn't exist, watched it get built and used up during my lifetime. I remember the time when we dreamed big dreams and then made them a reality. We built things. In 1955, in President Eisenhower's State of the Union address he said, "A modern, efficient highway system is essential to meet the needs of our growing population, our expanding economy and our national security." He was also told that if he went through with this idea that he would not be re-elected. He was, by the way.

Continue...

Up Front- Seizing Opportunities

Craig Harper
J. B. Hunt Transport
Chairman of the Board, ATA

Depending on your outlook, the trucking industry has many daunting challenges to address or critical opportunities to seize in 2015 and beyond. Of course perspective matters, but this is not just a clever case of semantics. It’s about mindset.

Research suggests a powerful link between how we impact issues and the frame of reference we bring to bear upon them. Management consultants tell us the same is true of organizations: the difference between achieving a wildly successful outcome and experiencing a dismal failure is sometimes only a slight shift in perception. How important is our perspective, and how much difference can you create with a subtle shift in mindset? Just as important, how influential is our environment upon our current outlook?

Continue...

The Last Word

Change Marketing, Driver Roles to Recruit Young Drivers

By Steve Brawner, Contributing Writer

The ideal truck driver is a 20-year veteran who is physically fit, has worked only for one carrier, has never had an accident and has already been named Driver of the Year.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many drivers like that available. In fact, the reality is just the opposite. According to the American Trucking Associations, the industry already faces a driver shortage of 35,000, and that number could grow to 240,000 by 2020. Given that reality, carriers can look for drivers among the usual sources – other carriers, second careerists, etc. Or they can widen the pool by looking at one other often-ignored source.

Young people.

Continue...

Up Front- Paving a New Way

shannonnewton2

 

 

Shannon Newton
President, ATA

In Sept 2011 the Highway Commission named Scott Bennett as director of the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department (AHTD). We have profiled Scott Bennett in this issue of ATR because the relationship between industry and the department has never been better or more vital. It is well worth highlighting.

To say a lot is riding on how we respond as a state and as a nation to our infrastructure and highway-funding needs is an understatement. Our transportation infrastructure is key to our economic development. Our future prosperity is riding on our will to find solutions.

It is widely acknowledged that our transportation infrastructure in the United States is in serious disrepair. As roads and bridges across our state and country age and deteriorate, governments at all levels are struggling to pay for maintenance and upkeep, not to mention investments in necessary upgrades and new projects to support much greater capacity demands.

Continue...

The Last Word

An Honorable Profession

By Kenneth Calhoun, Guest Writer

For years, we’ve been dealing with the very real crisis of the truck driver shortage. The American Trucking Associations reports that freight volumes grow year-over-year, but the industry is still many drivers short of supporting that growth. In addition, driver turnover is up 11 percent this year. And yet, freight companies are not just missing men and women behind the wheels of trucks. There is another crisis we are facing in terms of manpower: a technician shortage, the men and women under the hoods and hovering over motherboards of increasingly complex freight machines. The whole chain is affected as demand grows, but manpower stays the same.

In terms of supporting the fleet that moves our nation, we have only the lowest capacity to keep the system running. Wait times at service locations are at record lengths. Staffing fleet maintenance facilities has become a constant challenge. Asset utilization is suffering, and it is harder each day for the fleet operator to deliver the service their customer demands.

So what gives? Aside from the exponential growth of complexity in the vehicles, near record delivery of new vehicles and growing demand for delivery of raw materials and finished goods, why are the wheels coming off?

Continue...

Up Front-They Like Us. They Really Like Us.

shannonnewton2

Shannon Newton
President, ATA

As an industry, we talk a lot about image. We worry about public opinion.

It’s only natural. After all, who doesn’t want to be loved?

While image is not everything, it certainly has an impact, from driver and industry recruitment to regulatory, legislative and public policy actions.

I think most of us think that the trucking industry’s image needs some improvement.

I wonder, in the absence of any real data, why we make this assumption.

Are we giving too much power to a vocal minority that may be driving the discussion? Is it the high profile, typically negative and misunderstood media coverage? Have we become so defensive about what we imagine to be our industry’s image to be that we have come to accept it as fact?

Continue...

The Last Word

Industry Communications Demand More Creativity

By Tom Ricciardone, Guest Writer

A truck driver’s day begins with the end in mind.

 Safety first. Safety always. There can be no compromise.

 Where what it takes is driven by what’s at stake: Dedication, passion, commitment—to upholding the highest standards of excellence.

 Where hard work and working hard are the price of entry. And professional pride is personal.

 Where preparation and attention to every detail are never in question. All day. Every day. No matter where. On and off the road.

 Each day the road ahead is filled with challenges. Unforeseen risks. From anywhere. At anytime.

 For the professional truck driver, for the business that keeps America moving, their business is safety.

Continue...

Up Front- What we do. Why we do it.

shannonnewton2

Shannon Newton
President, ATA

I’ve worked for the Arkansas Trucking Association for over a decade now. You would think I’d have a handy elevator pitch that succinctly conveys the essence of what it is we do.

Yet, I don’t. Not one I’m completely satisfied with anyway.

Sure, I can recite the mission statement. Rooted in our core value of service to our membership, it adequately states our primary objective to protect, promote and inform on our member’s behalf.

But the mission statement alone doesn’t explain how or why. It doesn’t capture the power—power that delivers meaningful and far-reaching impact through our association and the industry in Arkansas.

Whether issues of public interest, advancing our image, or addressing an arcane, stealth regulatory change—the power of association can make the difference.

Continue...

The Last Word

What's in a Name?

By Greg Jones, Guest Writer

So, is that driver your employee? Or maybe an independent contractor? And what’s the big deal anyways?

Well, it might not be a big deal in some respects. But if facing exposure for hourly wages, unemployment insurance taxes, and company benefits is critical to your company, then the “employee”/ “independent contractor” distinction is a big deal.

Unfortunately, in our industry the determination of driver status remains a rather murky and treacherous area. And that lack of legal predictability can serve as the wellspring for costly litigation, as exemplified by two Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decisions issued Aug. 27, 2014. Both cases pitted FedEx Ground against FedEx delivery drivers in California and Oregon. The core issue was whether those drivers would be characterized as “employees” versus “independent contractors” under California and Oregon laws. If deemed to be “employees” (rather than “independent contractors” as their operating agreements with FedEx described them), then FedEx faced wide-ranging exposure for unpaid wages and company benefits.

Continue...

Arkansas Trucking Championship Honors Commitment to Safety

Up Front- Eager to Serve

shannonnewton2

Shannon Newton
President, ATA

My career in the trucking industry began with a successful flatbed carrier based in North Little Rock. I was 23, a recent UCA graduate and this was my first “real job.” I was, to say the least, eager; eager to prove valuable, to contribute to something greater, to be treated (finally) like an adult and to wear my new, grown-up clothes. On arrival I was issued a regulation cubicle and a photo ID. I had arrived.

A few months later a memo informed all employees that we would have “special guests” the following day. We were reminded to have our workspace neat and to adhere to the professional dress code. I had no idea who these visitors were, but I got the message loud and clear; they were valued by my employer.

Continue...

The Last Word

Not Backing Down: The Fight for Highway Funding

By Philip Byrd, Guest Writer

Congestion and gridlock are, unfortunately, a way of life for us in the trucking industry. Traffic delays add costs, waste fuel and time and generally make the job of delivering America’s goods challenging.

Gridlock and congestion have also seized up our government in Washington – delaying critical actions that could make the job of delivering America’s good easier.

First, in June the Senate appeared poised to make our highways safer by easing the restrictions on the use of the hours-of-service restart. The Senate Appropriations Committee – by a bipartisan 21-9 vote – adopted language proposed by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) that would have lifted the restriction on using the restart more than once a week and the requirement that the restart include two periods between 1 and 5 a.m. for a year while the impact on safety were studied.

Continue...

Arkansas Trucking Association Announces New President

Shannon Newton, Selected to Lead Industry Group

The Board of Directors of the Arkansas Trucking Association (ATA) is pleased to announce the appointment of Shannon Newton as President.

Shannon has been with the ATA since 2003 and has served as vice president since 2008.  She succeeds Lane Kidd who resigned earlier this year. Newton will assume her duties immediately.

 "When we began our search for a new president, we knew that an experienced leader with deep industry knowledge and a broad skill set was exactly what we needed," stated Craig Harper, ATA Chairman of the Board and EVP/COO of J.B. Hunt Transport, Inc. “Shannon is a dynamic leader and extremely knowledgeable on the complex issues faced by our members. The board was unanimous in this appointment. She became the clear choice to lead the Arkansas Trucking Association forward.”

 “I am honored and humbled to have been chosen to lead the ATA,” said Ms. Newton. “The Arkansas trucking industry is a recognized national leader. My years with the association, working on behalf of this great industry, the member companies and the thousands of dedicated, professional men and women, in the cab and out, have been so rewarding. I welcome the opportunity as president to continue to work with the ATA’s extraordinary and dedicated staff and with these extraordinary members to help drive our industry’s growth.” 

Continue...

Up Front - The Year of the Driver

Gary Salisbury headshot

Gary Salisbury
Chairman & CEO, Fikes Truck Line
Chairman, Arkansas Trucking Association

Over the past several years it seems like all we have talked about, looked at, pointed at and cussed about has been regulations and the re-regulation of our industry.  From CSA and electronic logos to EPA standards and the California Air Resource Board, just to name the big ones.  If only we didn't have all o these rules and regulations we could make some money. Oh, and don't forget those high fuel prices.

But guess what? We have taken our eye off of the real solution to our problems.  It all goes back to the Golden Rule of trucking, at least according to my uncle who drove and retired from Yellow Freight: "The driver, he will either make ya or break ya."

Continue...

The Last Word

Strength in Numbers

By Mitchell Lowe, Guest Writer

Most Americans have heard of political action committees, or PACs, but couldn’t tell you the first thing about them—except that they’re evil. Their malicious image is largely the result of negative press and the wide- spread demonization of special interest groups in the political process.

The fact is PACs, in one form or another, have been around since the advent of free elections…and they’re here to stay. Simply put, PACs are the joining together of individuals with common interests to achieve a goal. Today PACs should be components of the overall legislative and political strategy of any entity (company, trade association, etc.) that finds itself subject to the whims of a regulatory body.

Continue...

The Last Word

Eyes Wide Open: The Big Rig Dilemma

By Tom Ricciardone, Guest Writer

On February 5, the day after an icy, wintry mix hit Central Arkansas, the front page of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette featured a four-column wide photo of an over-turned tractor-trailer. The bold type headline: “Rig Flips on I-30 Exit Ramp.”

Just days later, after another blast of weather, Sunday’s Page 1 headline read: “Woman Missing After Leap Into River to Avoid Hit By Rig.”

Imagine, with no advance warning, you have five minutes to address a room full of colleagues from throughout the state. Your task is to present a short bullet-point wish list for “marketing” the Arkansas trucking industry within the state and beyond.

As an industry insider, with a unique vantage point, what would you tell them?

This brief column can only scratch the surface, highlight a few “wish-list” items that might resonate along with some essential points of context to consider.

Continue...

Up Front - Good Things Come to Those Who Change

lane-kidd-2013

From The President's Desk

Business owners—trucking and otherwise—have a hard time seeing the forest for the trees. In the big picture, things are going great. Business is booming; there was a surge of Class 8 truck orders this fall. But company owners don't like to brag about how we'll they're doing. And in trucking, we tend to focus on those barriers that might keep the industry from doing better – like driver shortages, or restrictive hours-of-service rules. That's curious to folks not in trucking. For example, a friend of mine, successful in his own industry, listened as I described those two issues as being restrictive on productivity.

More From Lane Kidd, President, ATA

Up Front - The Power of Association Continues

lane-kidd-2013

From The President's Desk

 

The ‘power of association’ is a phrase we often use. The phrase is perfect in the way it describes how the Arkansas Trucking Association (ATA) has consistently performed well for its’ member companies. Simply put, the power of association is about leveraging the collective strengths of individual companies. Conversely, the power of association describes the benefits that accrue to individual companies from the collective knowledge of the whole.

More From Lane Kidd, President, ATA

The Last Word

What Driver Shortage?

By Steve Banker Guest Writer

In the latest State of Logistics Report, it is reported that the trucking industry is currently short by about 30,000 drivers. Logistics professionals are frequently warned by trucking trade associations and big carriers about how CSA regulations have reduced the driver pool, and how Hours of Service will reduce driver productivity by perhaps 8 percent on average.

Read More

Contact Us

Arkansas Trucking Association
PO Box 3476 (72203)
1401 West Capitol Ave.
Little Rock, AR 72201

(501) 372-3462 | Phone
(501) 376-1810 | Fax

Our Mission

  • PROTECT the collective interests of trucking companies in the political and regulatory arenas.
  • PROMOTE the dynamics of trucking so that people have a better understanding of the link between America's primary freight delivery system and the standard of living they enjoy.
  • SERVE our members to help them to grow their business and their profits
You are here: Home Article Archive