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Shippers Take Pro-Truck Message to Washington

October 27, 2011
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Shippers rely heavily on the safe, reliable, cost-effective service that truck transportation offers. In fact, more than 70 percent of freight shipments, by value and by tons, moves by truck. Unfortunately, there are a number of advocacy issues currently being considered by lawmakers that will negatively impact trucking productivity and efficiency if passed, ultimately increasing supply chain costs by up to 10 percent. This is the warning NASSTRAC brought to Washington in late September, when they met with a dozen Senate and House aides on critical trucking issues.

If Congress fails to take action in support of America’s trucking industry and its customers, the result will be significant increases in costs for companies across America and significant decreases in efficient distribution and transportation. Businesses and consumers will be worse off as a result of increased costs and decreased productivity. Unemployment will rise. Neither our economy nor our country can afford more of the same.

During the fly-in, NASSTRAC shippers met with aides of a number of legislators, including Congressmen Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minnesota), Tom Petri (R-Wisconsin), John Duncan Jr. (R-Tennessee); and Senators Richard Durbin (D-Illinois), John Rockefellar IV (D-West Virginia), Max Baucus (D-Montana), Barbara Boxer (D-California), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota), and Alexander Lamar (R-Tennessee). My hope is that an initiative like this fly-in will help to motivate others in the industry to get involved in the dialogue. For more information, visit www.FreightAdvocacy.org.

 

The most critical trucking issues

Infrastructure.A long-term infrastructure investment plan is needed to relieve traffic congestion and allow goods to reach markets quicker and more efficiently. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, we lose 4.2 billion working hours each year due to traffic tie-ups. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce projects that over the next five years, the economy could experience as much as $336 billion in lost growth due to the poor or mediocre condition of roads and bridges. Investment in infrastructure will promote growth and create millions of jobs. NASSTRAC encourages legislators to support a multi-year bill with adequate funding to upgrade and expand our nation’s highway infrastructure.

Hours of service.FMCSA is proposing to reduce truck driver hours of service despite the fact that highway fatality rates and truck crashes have reached record lows under current rules. FMCSA’s flawed cost-benefit analysis exaggerates questionable safety benefits, underestimates costs, and shows little interest in the importance of trucking productivity to the economy. This change will result in lost wages for drivers, billions of dollars in lost productivity, significantly higher costs for trucking companies, and a negative impact on business depending upon JIT supply chains. NASSTRAC is asking Senators and House members to join more than 100 other legislators in writing FMCSA to oppose the counterproductive changes it has proposed to its current truck driver hours of service rules.

Extending regulation to manufacturers and distribution companies.FMCSA plans to ask Congress to extend FMCSA regulation to the manufacturing and distribution companies that ship and receive freight, and to intermediaries like brokers and forwarders. Its stated goal is to focus enforcement resources on the entire transportation lifecycle. FMCSA has neither the resources nor the expertise to tell NASSTRAC members and other, similar companies how to produce and distribute the goods transported by trucking companies. NASSTRAC is encouraging legislators to oppose this massive expansion of FMCSA’s role in regulating America’s businesses.

Truck size and weight reductions.Trucking industry productivity is at risk as competing bills in Congress address truck size and weight limitations. The Safe and Efficient Transportation Act would let states increase the current 80,000 lb truck weight limit, where appropriate, to 97,000 lbs with an additional axle and added wheels. It is opposed by railroads and safety advocates, both of whom want to force freight off trucks and onto trains. Railroads and their supporters are backing the Safe Highways and Infrastructure Protection Act (SHIPA), which would prohibit longer and heavier trucks on many roads where they now operate safely, and prohibit any increase in weight limits. NASSTRAC is encouraging legislators to support the Safe and Efficient Transportation Act and to oppose the SHIPA. wt

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