American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear told attendees of the federation’s annual Management Conference and Exhibition that while a “booming” economy has greatly benefited the industry, the association will continue to advance trucking’s agenda on a host of priority issues.
“We are now witnessing the fastest growth the trucking industry has experienced in 20 years,” Spear said, citing tax reform, increases in truck tonnage, employment, manufacturing and equipment orders. “Trucking is the driving force behind the world’s #1 economy – and we want to keep it that way.
“While tax reform was a significant win and we’re enjoying all the benefits of a robust economy, we have unfinished business in Washington,” he said.
In his remarks, Spear highlighted the ongoing campaigns over onerous and duplicative meal-and-rest break rules, driver hours-of-service reform, infrastructure investment, trade and workforce development as top challenges for ATA to continue to engage on.
“With a strong economy, our industry’s challenges just got bigger. The chronic driver and technician shortage is now top-fold, national news – fueled by consumer confidence, a well above-average retirement age, and erroneous claims that our trucks will soon be driverless,” he said. “Beyond the goodwill that comes from engaging our nation’s youth, the fact is, we also need to attract the next generation of drivers and technicians.”
Spear used his address to tout ATA’s support for the Drive-Safe Act, pointing out that all 48 states in the Continental U.S. already allow drivers under the age of 21 to operate within state lines, but not cross state borders, and that the bipartisan legislative proposal would allow those same young people to drive across state lines provided they receive comprehensive additional training.
“Not one of these 48 states have all the training and technology requirements ATA is seeking at the federal level,” he said.
Spear also emphasized the opportunity trucking has to come together at MCE.
“MCE affords us the opportunity to embrace the universal values we share as an industry. Our unyielding commitment to safety. Hard work and playing by the rules. Faith, family, compassion, our love of country,” he said. “All shaping who we are… and how we’re perceived.”
Spear’s full speech will be available on trucking.org.