In search of a partner

Feb. 18, 2015
Industry desire for change is outpacing government efforts

Two months into the new year and I have finally managed to get used to dating paperwork, letters and checks with 2015 rather than 2014. Now let’s think about this for a moment. What has really changed in our industry over the past year other than the actual numbers? We have all seen and reviewed ATRI’s list of top issues that affect our industry, and they are eerily similar to the list that came out the year before and even the year before that. Looking at the list and reflecting back on these issues, we continue to face roadblocks that prevent us from improving, correcting and even putting to bed the many issues that appear on this list. I’ve addressed many of these issues previously, even providing potential solutions. Yet they still remain problems for the industry. So let’s look at part of this list as we ask ourselves why are we still waiting for others to address the problems.

The hours-of-service regulations continue to maintain the top spot. If HOS were an athletic team, we would call it a dynasty. Instead, it is a regulation that our industry continues to fight hard to improve as we seek a comprehensive rule that makes sense and maintains our industry’s top-notch safety performance. After an industry-wide victory in suspending the restart rules, we wait for a study to prove what we have been saying since the rule went into effect—that its restart provisions just do not work for this industry.

CSA and its inequities will almost always remain on the critical-issues list until the agency actually addresses the problems that we continually point out. Our industry has made no secret of the troubles that present themselves with CSA, and the agency continues to move slowly forward in addressing them with an acknowledgement that they know what is wrong. Very few fixes, though, ever come to light.  

Electronic logging devices (ELDs) are almost old news for our carrier members nowadays as a mandate has become an afterthought. Our members have been proactive in testing, adopting and implementing this technology and continue to remain at the front of the line when speaking about alternative compliance.  The case of an ELD mandate rests in the hands of an agency that has fallen behind the pace set by an industry that is quickly embracing this technology that improves compliance and efficiency. We continue to insist that the agency follow our lead and put forth a rule that requires all carriers to operate on a level playing field and implement electronic logging devices in all of their vehicles. 

My point in mentioning these three issues is not to say that they are not important or not being addressed, but rather state that the industry itself is doing its part. Years ago, we often made mention that we were against mandates and possessed a “just say no” attitude toward rulemakings and mandates; however, times have definitely changed. Now the industry not only supports change but also races to implement ideas. In doing just that, we actually wish we had a partner in the federal government that could keep pace.

As 2015 rolls on and we close the book on this year in 11 months, my only hope is that we can see a new critical-issues list that actually includes new critical issues.

David Heller, CDS, is director of safety and policy for the Truckload Carriers Assn.  He is responsible for interpreting and communicating industry-related regulations and legislation to the membership of TCA. Send comments to [email protected].

About the Author

David Heller

David Heller is the senior vice president of safety and government affairs for the Truckload Carriers Association. Heller has worked for TCA since 2005, initially as director of safety, and most recently as the VP of government affairs. Before that, he spent seven years as manager of safety programs for American Trucking Associations.

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