Trucking News Roundup--January 2013December saw an increase in trucking industry jobs and advancements in safety measures for American highways. Here are the highlights:
- The trucking industry added 4,200 jobs.
- Legislative headway has been made on multiple initiatives suggested by the American Truckers Associations for increased highway safety.
- A mileage tax program is suggested to increase revenue for the Highway Trust Fund.
As the nationâ€™s unemployment rate increased slightly from 7.7 percent to 7.8 percent in December, the trucking industry added 4,200 payroll jobs last month, according to the latest information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This is a 0.31 percent increase since November and a 3.4 percent increase since December 2011. Trucking employment is up by 10.4 percent from the low point of March 2010, with a total of 128,300 jobs added since then. However, it remains below the all-time high of January 2007 by 6.3 percent. Since the beginning of 2012, the number of trucking jobs has increased by 3.4 percent. The BLS statistics are a reflection of all payroll employment in the for-hire trucking industry.
ATA Notes Progress on Safety, Still Pushing for 65 MPH Speed Limit
Four years after the American Trucking Associations (ATA) released its official commitment to safety priorities for American highways, there has been significant progress on more than half of the 20 critical steps to reduce highway crashes and increase safety for not just truckers, but for everyone on the road.
A progress report released by the ATA on January 8 states that favorable changes have been seen in the safe use of technologies, truck parking, seat belt use, education enforcement for aggressive drivers, graduated drivers licensing, crashworthiness standards, and employer notification systems.
ATA President and CEO Bill Graves said, "ATA has been a vocal advocate for making common sense, data-supported, regulatory and legislative changes to improve the safety of our nation's highways. Regulators and lawmakers at the state and federal level have answered ATA's calls in several areas, but there is still much more work to be done.â€ Areas where no progress has been made include the implementation of a national speed limit of 65 mph, more rigorous commercial driverâ€™s licensing testing, implementation of red light cameras and automatic speed enforcement in high risk zones, the change of lenient open container laws, and speed limiters for drivers with certain convictions.
"We're pleased that our state and federal safety partners have addressed or begun to address more than half of these actions to make commercial motor vehicles and their workplace safer, and remain committed to addressing all of these issues, and reversing negative trends, to further reduce highway crashes," said ATA Chairman Mike Card, president of Combined Transport, Central Point, Ore. "We hope our federal and state partners will continue to work with us to this end."
Mileage Tax Pilot Program Recommended by GAO
This past week the Government Accountability Office (GAO) recommended the implementation of a pilot program to research mileage fees as a source of revenue for the Highway Trust Fund (HTF). Increasingly fuel efficient vehicles have decreased the revenue of the HTF, which is currently earned by federal fuel taxes. Trucking organizations, including the American Trucking Associations, have criticized the tax because of the direct monetary effect it will have on truckers, as well as costs for administration and enforcement. The general public is resistant to the use of Global Positioning Systems that would gather such mileage data because of the infringement of privacy.