Uncertainty ahead

May 1, 2008
When the announcement was made that the 70th Annual Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) Convention would be held at the Atlantis Resort in Nassau, Bahamas,

When the announcement was made that the 70th Annual Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) Convention would be held at the Atlantis Resort in Nassau, Bahamas, March 1 to 4, 2008, the general state of the economy didn't seem as precarious as it does today. Nevertheless, attendance at the event under the theme, Trucking through Paradise, was good.

“Although, traversing through the many issues that face our industry is no easy task, it is a little easier when discussing these hard issues on this Isle of Paradise,” said outgoing TCA chairman James O'Neal, president of O & S Trucking, Springfield, Missouri. “TCA's Annual Convention helps provide the tools that make you better at moving your business to greater profitability and advances our industry into a stronger position to meet tomorrow's needs.”

Beyond the meetings, workshops, general sessions, and numerous networking opportunities, the event had an exhibition featuring 50,000 square feet of products and services from more than 100 companies.

Industry snapshot

In an overview of the issues facing trucking, American Trucking Associations Chairman Ray Kuntz spoke of the still uncertain state of the hours-of-service rewrite, and the funding for the infrastructure upgrades that must be made to address the crumbling interstates and the increasing congestion.

Kuntz went to the heart of climate-change legislation, in particular the America's Climate Security Act. Introduced late last year by Senators Joseph Lieberman (ID-CT) and John Warner (R-VA), cap-and-trade provisions for reducing emissions will seriously impact trucking fleets with as few as 50 trucks, said Kuntz.

A market-based policy tool, cap-and-trade systems create a financial incentive for emission reductions by assigning a cost to polluting. It first sets an aggressive cap, or maximum limit, on emissions. Sources covered by the program then receive authorizations to emit in the form of emissions allowances, with the total amount of allowances limited by the cap.

More climate change legislation is on the horizon, Kuntz pointed out, with efforts at the state level already having impacts.

Dealing with 50 state climate bills will prove an impossible task, he said, and noted that ATA is calling for federal pre-emption, if only to make life simpler.

Driver shortage

Among the other issues facing the industry, Kuntz cited driver training accreditation and a driver shortage that will see older drivers retiring over the next 10 years. This will result in a shrinking demographic of available talent with no standardized training in place.

One answer, he suggested, would be some form of immigration package that would allow access to the undocumented immigrants already in the US for potential drivers. Seventeen million of them are using schools and services, yet the trucking industry cannot hire them, he said.

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