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Graves outlines ATA’s priorities

Jan. 23, 2009
Speaking to the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, American Trucking Assns. (ATA) president & CEO Gov. Bill Graves detailed ATA’s priorities at the onset of the Obama administration and what he hopes can be accomplished over the next few years

Speaking to the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, American Trucking Assns. (ATA) president & CEO Gov. Bill Graves detailed ATA’s priorities at the onset of the Obama administration and what he hopes can be accomplished over the next few years.

Graves said that ATA’s biggest priorities include the implementation of a national clearinghouse for drug and alcohol use; employer notification of road offenses, and tougher safety standards for new entrants.

In addition, he spoke of the importance of implementing a number of safety measures, noting that ATA supports a nationwide speed limit of 65 MPH, installing speed governors on all 1992 or later model trucks to limit them to 65 MPH or less, and building Class 7 and 8 trucks with more crash-worthy materials. Lower speeds would also lead to more fuel-efficient vehicles. “No one understands more than truckers that using less fuel is a good thing,” he said.

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Speaking to the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, American Trucking Assns. (ATA) president & CEO Gov. Bill Graves detailed ATA’s priorities at the onset of the Obama administration and what he hopes can be accomplished over the next few years.

Graves said that ATA’s biggest priorities include the implementation of a national clearinghouse for drug and alcohol use; employer notification of road offenses, and tougher safety standards for new entrants.

In addition, he spoke of the importance of implementing a number of safety measures, noting that ATA supports a nationwide speed limit of 65 MPH, installing speed governors on all 1992 or later model trucks to limit them to 65 MPH or less, and building Class 7 and 8 trucks with more crash-worthy materials. Lower speeds would also lead to more fuel-efficient vehicles. “No one understands more than truckers that using less fuel is a good thing,” he said.

The transportation industry has been hoping that a large chunk of President Obama’s proposed stimulus package will go towards fixing U.S. highways and roads.

However, Graves said that of the $825 billion in the stimulus package, only about $30 billion will be designated for roads and bridges, although Rep. James Oberstar (D-MN), the chairman of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure has been pressing for more of the funds—a total of $85 billion--to go towards transportation. “Thirty billion dollars doesn’t go very far to meet all the demands,” Graves said.

ATA is also focused on reducing congestion. Graves said that the trucking lobby is hoping for a financial investment from the stimulus package towards limiting bottlenecking as well as asking for additional consideration for 97,000 lb. vehicles with a sixth axle. “Fewer trucks will be on the road if you let trucks be more productive,” he said, adding that ATA supports double and triple vehicles in areas where they are feasible.

On the environmental front, Graves said ATA has been at the forefront of alternatively powered and fueled vehicles. He said that ATA’s members are prepared for the 2010 EPA regulations, and ATA does not have a formal position on whether they believe the standards should be pushed back, but noted that the “new administration backing away [from the regulations] politically is unlikely.”

“I think there is great promise for CNG [compressed natural gas], but it is hard for long-haul fleets to make a commitment without the infrastructure in place across the country,” Graves said.

He also spoke about ATA’s injunction to stop the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach concession plans, which he said encroaches upon the right of owner-operators to do business, but he noted that ATA has no opposition the environmental requirements.

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Justin Carretta

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