Mike Card Elected ATA Chairman

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LAS VEGAS — Mike Card, president of Combined Transport, Central Point, Ore., was elected American Trucking Associations’ 68th chairman at ATA’s annual Management Conference & Exhibition here Wednesday.

“It is a tremendous honor to be selected by one’s peers to represent them,” said Card, who succeeded Dan England, chairman of C.R. England Inc., Salt Lake City, in the one-year position.

“It is not secret that our nation and our industry are at a crossroads,” Card said in a statement, “with looming changes in hours-of-service, a steady, but still slow, economic recovery, a federal government threatening to impose even more onerous regulations on our industry — while all the while underinvesting in the highway system we depend on.”

Speaking at ATA’s annual MCE banquet Wednesday evening, Card said being named chairman was “the highlight of my life [and] I’m going to do everything I can to expand the influence of ATA’s voice.”

He also said he is planning a trip to Mexico City in a few weeks to talk with Mexican trucking industry officials, as well as ATA’s Canadian counterpart, to help with cross-border trade issues.

“Mike is emblematic of what makes our industry great,” ATA President Bill Graves said in a statement. “The son of a driver-turned-entrepreneur and the leader of a family business, Mike will be a tremendous ambassador for ATA and for trucking,” Graves said.

By Transport Topics


Back to the Future: The Current and Coming Driver Shortage

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LAS VEGAS - At least one industry analyst has predicted the driver shortage could reach 500,000 by sometime net year. The American Trucking Associations recently reported that driver turnover at large truckload fleets is now at 106%, the highest level since early 2007. What's driving this shortage, and what can be done about it?

That was the question addressed during a panel discussion this week at the American Trucking Associations' annual Management Conference and Expo in Las Vegas.

The name of the panel was "Back to the Future: The Current and Coming Driver Shortage." Kenny Vieth, president and senior analyst at ACT Research, started off with a blast from the past. An article from a 1914 issue of Traffic World noted, "employers complain of the great difficulty of securing drivers who are competent … and yet a majority of truck owners will hire the men who will work cheapest."

Vieth asked whether we really are looking at a driver shortage problem today, or if it's really a driver retention problem.

"If you have 100 % driver turnover, finding drivers is not the problem, retaining drivers is the problem," he said.

Vieth showed a chart comparing the pay of truck drivers to that of food service workers. Back in 1981, a driver was making nearly five times the salary of a food worker. In 2010, that had dropped to only about twice as much. "The pay in relative terms was halved compared to a food service worker," Vieth said.

Vieth also posted graphs comparing turnover in the truckload sector with National Private Truck Council benchmarking statistics. NPTC numbers were pretty stable at around 10 to 12%. These drivers get home more often and have better pay and benefits, he said.

The Pay Question

Derek Leathers, president and chief operating officer for Werner Enterprises, also talked about driver pay, showing how since 2006, the average weekly wages for truckers has stayed largely flat (except for a dip during the recession), yet the consumer price index, a measure of inflation, has mostly continued to rise throughout that period, meaning that same pay is buying less.

However, the panelists noted, an across-the-board pay increase may not be the answer. They prefer more targeted pay increases, ones linked to things such as performance or the difficulty of a particular type of trucking job within a fleet. Drivers who are able to get home more often, for instance, may be happy with lower pay than those who are required to be away from home for long periods.

When asked about the possibility of pay by the hour instead of by the mile, the panelists were uncomfortable with that idea.

"I think it's dangerous to disconnect how we pay our drivers from how we get paid," Leathers said.

Equally important to pay, panelists said, are "softer" issues such as benefits and home time, a good corporate culture, CSA coaching, improved driver services like terminal amenities and technology to provide better connectivity between the driver and his family.

Kevin Burch, president of Jet Express, honed in on how the rest of the company relates to the drivers. "We will spend millions of dollars on technology, and that's all well and good, but we won't train a dispatcher to teach them how to communicate with a driver."

"Nothing is more important than network design," Leathers said. In 2008, only 38% of Werner drivers got home at least once a week. Today that number is 71%. The freight hasn't changed significantly; it's all a result of more efficient and thoughtful routing.


The panelists explained that changing demographics will make it harder to find drivers, as fewer younger workers enter the market and more of the older, experienced driver pool reaches retirement age.

Burch said the average driver currently is 48 years old.

"I would encourage you to identify the average age at your company," he said. "At mine it's 55. There's a lack of interest from the next generation." Burch said the average age of a truck driver training student is 42 years old.

"The other thing that's a concern to us is the less-than-truckload driver age is even older," Leathers said, "and there's a clearcut financial incentive for drivers to transition out of truckload into the LTL industry."

The Training School Conundrum

Panelists lamented the general lack of respect for truck driver training. At a time when the government is trying to create new jobs, they say, trucking can put to work a large number of people - but they have the hurdle of paying $4,000 to $6,000 for the training needed, and sources of financial assistance have been drying up.

"We need to train, we need to develop, and most important, we need to communicate and mentor young drivers," Burch said. "This industry keeps kicking the can down the road."

Lou Spoonhour, board member emeritus for the Commercial Vehicle Training Association, said if the industry wants to attract new drivers, it's going to have to start hiring more new training-school grads.

"Until recently, when I talked to fleets at job fairs, I used to hear a pretty strong refrain -- all the trucking companies wanted experienced drivers. I would ask the question, if you all want experienced drivers, how is anyone ever going to start in the industry?"

Spoonhour asked fleets to help the driver training school industry in its lobbying for more funding. "When our carrier partners are there with us, and the carriers are saying, 'I can hire every one of the graduates from this school, it does have an impact," he said.

Werner, which does hire new-training-school graduates, agreed.

"We've got to push our government to consider all jobs to be important and quit picking and choosing as they have of late," he said. "Funding toward our industry has been drying up, with funds being diverted to perhaps more sexy alternatives."



Driver Shortage Requires Industry Action, Experts Say

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John Sommers II for Transport Topics

LAS VEGAS — The shortage of truck drivers will worsen as the economy recovers and as the federal government adds more regulations, so it is critical the industry retains current drivers and attracts younger ones to the profession, a panel of experts said here Tuesday.

Ensuring drivers have more time at home, providing reliable equipment to company drivers and offering pay incentives and bonuses are all important steps that fleets should take, according to the discussion at American Trucking Associations’ Management Conference & Exhibition.

Derek Leathers, president and chief operating officer of Werner Enterprises, said that through schedule adjustments, about 71% of his drivers get home at least once a week. That has helped lower turnover and attract more applicants.

Kevin Burch, president of Jet Express, said fleets need to set up mentoring programs so younger drivers gain valuable experience until they are old enough to drive trucks on their own.

Lou Spoonhour, president of Driveco Truck Driver Learning Center, urged ATA and fleets to join with training schools to tell lawmakers how important it is to increase funding for programs that can get new truck drivers on the road in as little as six weeks.

Kenny Veith, president of ACT Research, said the industry’s high turnover rates show that the problem is more about retention than an insufficient number of applicants. He was optimistic in saying that federal regulations will limit the total driving pool, thus tightening capacity and allowing for higher rates. As a result, he said fleets would more easily be able to boost driver pay and keep more of the existing driver workforce.

The session was moderated by Howard Abramson, publisher and editorial director of Transport Topics Publishing Group, and was sponsored by Freightliner Trucks.

Additional coverage of the discussion will appear in the Oct. 15 print edition of Transport Topics.

By Transport Topics


Graves on Challenges From Regulations, Sluggish Economy

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John Sommers II
for Transport Topics

LAS VEGAS – The trucking industry continues to face challenges, from federal regulations and a sluggish economy, to the threat of more tolling on the nation’s highways, said Bill Graves, president of American Trucking Associations.

“I honestly do believe that anyone who is operating in the trucking industry is at a crossroads – in fact you’re facing an entire series of crossroads – each one a decision point sending you in directions that will ultimately determine success or failure, profitability or loss, growth or stagnation,” Graves said Oct. 8 at the opening session of ATA’s Management Conference & Exhibition here.

The nation’s biggest problems are “the sluggish economy, a very dysfunctional federal government and the people of this nation who lack confidence that the economy will get better and that our government as its currently assembled in Washington isn’t capable of getting the job done,” he said.

Graves singled out the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program as a key example of how Washington is threatening trucking’s success.

He said the program will make the highways safer, but needs to be altered to ensure the data provides an accurate picture of carriers’ safety records.

Despite other challenges such as hours-of-service, more tolls and rising fuel prices, he said trucking was still well-positioned for the future.

“The essentiality of the industry and the demand for freight movement by truck – a growing demand for freight movement by truck – is unquestioned,” Graves said. “The long-term macro outlook for trucking has never been better, but the near-term micro view continues to be very challenging.”

By Transport Topics


APSCU Update - Sequestration

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The major issue in Congress for the remainder of the year is the looming deadline of January 1, 2013, when $1.2 trillion in cuts to defense and domestic spending begin to go into effect unless a deal is reached by Congress and the White House. The sequestration process seeks to curb $1.2 trillion in federal spending cuts over the next 10 years by enacting across the board cuts to most programs and is an "automatic" form of spending cutback. Generally, the law requires a cut somewhere between 7.8% to 8.4%, but it does exempt certain programs like Veterans Affairs programs, including VA benefits.

The law exempts Pell Grants from sequestration, but other student aid programs will be impacted. Specifically, Federal Work-Study, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG), and Workforce Investment (WIA) state grants would be cut by a combined amount of $330 million. The table below reflects the CBO sequestration estimate of 7.8%:


FY 2012 Omnibus Estimated FY 2013 Funding Cuts Under Sequestration
SEOG $734,599,000 $734,599,000 $57,299,000
Federal Work Study $976,682,000 $976,682,000 $76,181,000
Career and Technical
Education State
Grants (Perkins)
$1,123,030,000 $1,123,030,000 $87,596,000
Adult Basic and
Literacy Education
$594,993,000 $594,993,000 $46,409,000
TRIO $839,932,000 $839,932,000 $65,515,000
GEAR UP $302,244,000 $302,244,000 $23,575,000
Title I Grants
to LEAs
$14,516,468,000 $14,516,468,000 $1,140,085,000
IDEA State Grants $11,577,855,000 $11,577,855,000 $903,073,000
WIA State Grants $2,603,300,000 $2,603,300,000 $203,057,000
Strengthening Institutions $80,623,000 $80,623,000 $6,289,000
Hispanic Serving Institutions $100,432,000 $100,432,000 $7,834,000
Asian American and
Native American Pacific
Islander Serving Institutions
$3,199,000 $3,199,000 $250,000
Tribally Controlled
Colleges and Universities
$25,713,000 $25,713,000 $2,006,000
Predominately Black
$9,262,000 $9,262,000 $722,000

Sequestration would also affect student loan origination fees. The Department of Education does not currently charge an origination fee on Consolidation Loans. Under sequestration, origination fees on Direct Loan program loans made during the sequestration period would be required to be increased by a uniform percentage amount. For instance, if the uniform percentage was 10%, it appears that origination fees would be increased from 1% to 1.1% on Subsidized Stafford Loans and Unsubsidized Stafford Loans, and from 4% to 4.4% on PLUS Loans.

The sequestration will go into effect on January 2, 2013 unless Congress and the President address this issue in the lame duck Congress.


American's Trucking Industry Faces Driver Shortages

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The Lonesome Road

American's Trucking Industry Faces Driver Shortages

by Rich Ehisen, Comstock's Magazine – 2012 October

The trucking industry is facing a significant driver shortage as baby boomers retire and younger people are unwilling to replace them. The shortfall eased a bit during the recession as fewer trucks took to the road, but with the economy recovering, industry leaders say the shortage is becoming problematic.

The American Trucking Association predicts the industry will be short approximately 110,000 drivers by 2014, while other estimates peg the figure up to three times higher. That deficit has been paying dividends for those who remain.

“Driver salaries are on the rise,” says Michael Shaw, a spokesman for the California Trucking Association. “Demand is outstripping supply.”

That is good for drivers but not so much for consumers: Most industry experts believe the increased driver costs will ultimately mean higher prices for the goods they deliver.

There are many reasons for the shortfall. Younger people aren't as interested in the field any more. In this era of health consciousness, the job is perceived as too hard on the body. And long-haul truckers can be required t obe gone from home for weeks at a time.

The financial payoff is also questionable. Many large companies prefer to hire truckers who own a rig, which can be an expensive proposition for a potential driver. And new regulation in California related to greenhouse gas emissions have made it even more difficult for truckers to afford equipment.

However, there are other signs that workers are enlisting in the field because job prospects are so poor elsewhere. David Decker, director of education for the Western Truck School in West Sacramento, says he has seen a slight increase in the number of students willing to fork over the $2,000 to $5,000 needed to pass his training program. He says it is too soon to know if the spike is temporary, but he remains optimistic that the industry will eventually be able to fill its needs. For all its challenges, he notes, trucking has something many industries can't offer these days: job security.

“It's harder than ever to make a living now,” Decker says. “But I'm seeing a lot more people coming here now who have already had careers in other fields. They're coming here because they just need a steady job.”


NTTS Recognized by ACCSC as School of Excellence

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Are You Up To The Challenge?

Press Release
National Tractor Trailer School Recognized by National Accreditor as School of Excellence

Each year, the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC), a national accrediting agency recognized by the United State Department of Education, recognizes it's Schools of Excellence for their commitment to the expectations and rigors of ACCSC accreditation, as well as the efforts made by these institutions in maintaining high-levels of achievement among their students. This year, at the 2012 Professional Development Conference hosted on September 10-12, 2012 in San Diego, California, ACCSC recognized National Tractor Trailer School located in Buffalo, New York as a 2012 School of Excellence.

In order to be eligible for the 21012 School of Excellence Award, an ACCSC-accredited institution must meet the conditions of renewing accreditation without any finding of non-compliance, satisfy all requirements necessary to be in good standing with the Commission, and demonstrate that the majority of the schools' student graduation rates exceed 84% for programs 1 to 3 months in length, and 69% for programs 4 to 6 months in length; and that the majority of reported graduate employment rates exceed 82%.

"ACCSC congratulates National Tractor Trailer School on their commitment to delivering quality educational programs to the students, graduates, and employers that deserve our best work" noted Christopher Lambert, ACCSC's Director of External Affairs.

Established in 1971, National Tractor Trailer School has over 41 years experience training men and women for commercial truck driver careers. Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges and with courses certified by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI), NTTS is approved by the NYS Division of Veterans Affairs for the training of veterans (GI Bill), and is an eligible Institution for financial aid programs including Stafford Loans (student loans), Parental Loans for undergraduate students (P.L.U.S.), and Pell Grants.


Al Schneider Award Presented to CSX at EANGUS Ceremony

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EANGUS ceremony.JPGAt its annual awards banquet on Aug. 29, the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States (EANGUS) presented the Al Schneider Award to CSX Transportation, one of the nation's leading rail-based transportation service providers. This honor, named for the founder of Schneider National, Inc., annually recognizes an employer who shows extraordinary support of those in the Guard and Reserve.

Schneider National was the first recipient of the award in 1991, at which time the award was named in tribute to Schneider. Since that time, other winning companies have included 3M, General Motors, Boeing, UPS, Home Depot and Microsoft.

In attendance at the Long Beach, Calif. ceremony included those pictured: left to right, Robert Soto (Ramp Operations Manager, Schneider National), Mario Morales (Account Manager, CSX), EANGUS President Roger Hagan, and CSM John Gipe, also an employee of CSX.


A New Experience

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Emailed from Department of Transportation:

As a subscriber to a DOT-related topic, we want to let you know that the website has changed. Our web team has redesigned the DOT gateway from the bottom up with you in mind, and we hope you enjoy the redesigned site.

The new has 3 main goals:

To help you find what you need as easily as possible. That’s why we’ve divided content along audience lines. So, whether you’re an individual seeking consumer information or one of our partners looking for guidance, we’ve got you covered.

To make the most popular resources more accessible. Along the left side of the new page, you’ll find “Top Requests,” a handy catalog of the website activities most often sought by visitors. If you’re a veteran seeking a transportation-related job, this is the place to find information. If you’re shopping for a car and are searching for vehicle safety ratings, look no further. And if you’re working in transportation planning and are curious about how the new transportation law will affect your projects, we’ve got the answers.

To arrange our resources in line with how you think about transportation. As you probably know, the work of DOT is performed by different Operating Administrations like the Federal Transit Administration, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and others. But most people don’t think about operating administrations —they think about trucks, buses or airplanes. And that’s why we’ve added 10 different buttons corresponding to different modes of transportation. Interested in Waterways? There’s a button for that.

Here at DOT, we serve the American people, and the new page acknowledges that mission with a strengthened emphasis on customer service. Our team used direct public feedback and usability testing to build a site designed around what you want to do when you visit our page.

We hope this makes it easier for you to find what you seek--and make new discoveries along the way. We also hope you’ll continue to let us know how we can be more useful to you as a true transportation resource.