Posted on November 28, 2018
Currently, the American Trucking Association (ATA) estimates the current driver shortage at 63,000 positions. Suggestions to address this issue are to offer a higher pay scale than the current median income of $42,000 and to entice non-college bound individuals into the trucking market. Currently 48 states allow 18-year-olds to engage in trucking. The ATA’s push for 400 hours of training would be a good first step in addressing the driver shortage.
Increasing productivity is the second point of discussion. Trucking is booming but a shortage of technicians/mechanics to fix them and keep them running is also a major concern. In addition, laws restricting the weight and length of trailers have limited growth. Equipment and laws that have not changed for 35 years are not keeping pace with the current growth in the economy.
The US infrastructure needs a major boost in the arm. The ATA thinks that the current $1 trillion infrastructure spending plan proposal submitted by President Trump will pass in 2019. A 20 cent a gallon gasoline tax increase over the next four years would raise $340 billion dollars. This would be the most conservative and immediate way to direct funds towards the ailing infrastructure.
The fourth point is committing to superior Safety Technology. Some examples are connected vehicle technology that would allow cars to talk with other cars, as well as roadway infrastructure to avoid potential crashes and congestion. Utilizing Peloton Technologies, like truck platooning would allow trucks to drive closely together to reduce drag and therefore save fuel. Looking into more automated and autonomous techniques would allow drivers to be more productive and less fatigued.
Finally, the trucking industry should have a greater say and involvement in tariff implementation, especially since they account for most of the border crossings into Mexico and Canada. Truck and trailer manufacturers are building in surcharges to their costs to offset tariffs on imported aluminum and steel.
Contributor: James Diehl
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Chris Spear, chief executive of ATA: https://www.trucks.com/2018/08/20/ata-president-spear-5-top-issues-trucking/