In his second State of the Industry Address since taking over last year, American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear told the annual Management Conference and Exhibition that the Associations’ efforts to unify and strengthen the industry group have resulted in important victories for trucking.
“Your story is now being told to the highest levels of government, to the media and to the American people,” Spear said. “Together we are building trucking’s future.”
Spear pointed to victory in securing permanent hours-of-service reform, a higher profile for ATA on autonomous vehicle issues, withdrawal of rigid sleep apnea rules and stalling of a poorly crafted speed-limiter rule as significant triumphs for the industry.
“ATA has put its own members in a position to shape public policy at the highest level,” he said. “And with the President now championing our best interests, the entire nation is paying attention to what we have to say.”
Spear also said with the nation paying attention to the trucking industry, the association would continue to advocate policies “that produce measurable benefits to our industry, our customers and the general public,” and move beyond issues that have been settled.
Spear was specifically speaking about electronic logging devices. “This issue has been legislated, promulgated and litigated,” he said. “It is now time to move forward. ELD technology removes one’s ability to exceed the legal hours of services, ushering in a safe, efficient and fair playing field for the nation’s trucking industry.”
He called for unity in the trucking industry, even in the face of increasing anti-truck sentiment.
“Back in Washington, anti-truck and amateur hour advocacy groups believe they know what’s best for our industry. This wave of special interests has built a cottage industry fuelled by ideology, emotion and misguided narratives – all intended to divide our industry and this association.
Obstruction is their weapon of choice,” he said. “Rest assured, ATA will not be driven into this rut, nor allow such division to impede our ability to win. Our focus will remain on safety, sound data, the truth… doing what’s best for our industry and the country, not what’s good for a political party or one’s personal agenda.”
Spear also said ATA would take a new leadership role in addressing a persistent issue in trucking: the driver shortage.
“Our industry faces several barriers that must be addressed if we’re to grow, including: establishing pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship training programs, and hiring and training 18-21 year-olds. We need interstate recognition of credentials, entry-level training standards for veterans and nonveteran employees, solutions for the impact of detention time and congestion on drivers’ hours of service, and more,” he said.
To address these issues, Spear announced the creation of a new Workforce Development subcommittee to be chaired by ATA Secretary John Smith, chairman of CRST International Inc.
“This subcommittee will enable ATA to work closely with this Administration, Congress and state governments to solve this problem,” he said.
Meanwhile, small business owner operator truckers and drivers are wondering how to get their voice heard because the ATA certainly doesn’t speak for them.