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Entries in trucks (3)

Tuesday
Jun202017

Automation and the Truck Driver

Transport Topics

June 20, 2017

Automated vehicle technology is coming to trucking, but what will that mean for the truck driver?

This was a prominent topic during Transport Topics’ LiveOnWeb program last week featuring American Trucking Associations President Chris Spear, autonomous vehicle consultant Richard Bishop and Josh Switkes, CEO of truck-platooning firm Peloton Technology.

While conversations about automation often drift toward fully autonomous trucks, that’s still decades away, Spear said.

“I think driver-assist is where we need to put our energy,” he said. “I think that’s the most reachable goal within the next few years, and it could yield tremendous benefits if it’s done right.”

Drivers who are working today will not be put out of work by automation, especially with freight volumes expected to grow and the driver shortage expected to worsen, Peloton’s Switkes said.

“Yes, over time, automation will reduce the number of drivers needed, but for the foreseeable future, that’s just going to slow down the growth of the shortage,” he said. “Eventually, it’ll reduce the driver shortage. The time in the future when there are fewer drivers needed than the amount of drivers we have today is far off.

Wednesday
May312017

Trucking groups question Trump’s push for highway privatization

Commercial Carrier Journal

May 31, 2017

President Donald Trump’s proposed budget for the 2018 fiscal year has drawn tepid reactions from some trucking groups, particularly over his call for allowing greater tolling efforts on U.S. Interstates.

Trump’s budget, as noted Monday, proposes removing the ban on tolling existing Interstate lanes, according to most interpretations, along with slashing billions from the Department of Transportation’s annual budget, greater privatization of public rest stops and attempts to drum up investment from private companies for highway projects.

Several trucking groups, however, have balked at Trump’s proposal to fund highways via tolls, as have anti-toll groups, obviously. Others, such as the International Bridge, Turnpike and Tunnel Association, have expressed tepid support, arguing any step toward boosting highway funding is better than no steps.

Read on...

Sunday
Nov172013

Guest Editorial: What About Blue Collar Jobs?

Greg Fulton is the President of the Colorado Motor Carriers Association, which includes over 600 companies involved in the trucking industry in Colorado. Colorado Motor Carriers is a member of the Ports-to-Plains Alliance.  As the Ports-to-Plains corridor grows communities are seeing the benefits of a growing economic base.  Springfield, CO was recently able to see a truck stop re-opened.  Greg’s comments about trucks and the jobs they create are benefiting communities across the entire region.

One can’t almost open a news web site or newspaper without reading about a public official indicating a need to attract "green industries" and high-tech companies to their state.  In general, the green industry tends to be those in the renewable energy area or those developing products which benefit the environment.  The high tech companies tend to be software or computer hardware businesses, service companies, bio-tech businesses and the like. There is a glamour and attractiveness associated with these industries because they are new, innovative and futuristic.  In addition to the media, our schools, colleges, and general society espouse the benefits and importance of these industries. 

In recent years this fascination with these newer industries has led to countless high-profile efforts by various states and cities to compete for these businesses in these "glamour" sectors.  State and local policymakers fall over themselves in trying to outdo each other in offering the greatest economic incentives to attract those companies hoping that they may obtain the next Microsoft or Evergreen Solar.  

At the same time, the results of some of the high-tech and green industry initiatives should offer a cautionary tale for public agencies.  Amidst a great deal of fanfare, communities, states and the federal government offered tremendous incentives, loans and grants to companies such as Solyndra and Solar Abound for the manufacture of solar panels several years ago.  While these efforts were well-intentioned, it resulted in taxpayers losing millions of dollars when these companies filed bankruptcy after a short period of time.  A further point of irony was that while these companies might have been glamorous, for the most part, the pay and benefits for most of the workers  was not impressive.

Several years ago I had the opportunity to speak in a small rural community on Colorado's eastern plains.   It had been years since I had been in the community which at that time had a small but vital downtown area.  Prior to my meeting, I decided to take a drive through the downtown area. I was saddened to see a number of the businesses closed due to a lack of business and depressed economy. This unfortunately is an all too common story for many of our rural communities. 

I was struck by the change and it helped me appreciate the economic challenges that our rural communities in Colorado face.  What was particularly difficult for me was knowing  that there were  similar rural communities within 150 miles of the town, located in an adjacent state, that were thriving.  The people in those communities were no more industrious nor more committed to their town than the folks in this rural Colorado town.  The difference was that in each case the community was the home to a major trucking company that served not only their own states but Colorado and the nation. 

Why Sydney, or Crete, Nebraska, versus Akron or Springfield?   Well, it isn't too complicated.  The difference is that states like Nebraska, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Utah have made a concerted effort to attract and retain trucking and distribution companies because they recognize the importance of these base industries to their economy and their value from a jobs perspective.  Those states realize that these businesses provide long-term stability and tend to weather economic downturns better than most . They also recognize that the wages  in the trucking industry tend to be significantly greater than the median pay for other jobs  in the country and that these jobs generally have good benefits associated with them.  In addition in a day and age when job security is a passing ideal, the ongoing need for truckdrivers and mechanics ensures that those individuals will never need to worry about a job.   Finally,  trucking and similar businesses beget other businesses who serve them with goods and services which creates even more jobs in the community which in many cases  may be located in rural areas or economically disadvantaged, small communities.

Unfortunately, over the years I have sat in a number of meetings where some state and local policymakers have questioned making any effort to retain or recruit logistics companies.  Some view these as "dirty businesses" that could detract from the state or local community's image.   They contend that we should be focusing on attracting only those businesses that fit the mold of being a "green or high tech industry".   I was astounded how little people knew about the trucking industry and its impact on our economy and the fact that this  industry has moved faster and gone farther than almost any other in regard to  environment improvements. 

The point isn't that states and cities should not seek to attract companies in these green, high-tech and bio-tech sectors.  Rather it is that policymakers should value and respect the many benefits offered by blue collar industries such as trucking and spend equally as much time and effort in retaining and attracting companies in this sector.

Our state has a diverse population and a variety of needs.  Let's not have our state and local governments hamstring themselves by only seeking those companies which fit into someone's definition of "green collar" or "high-tech"  jobs.  This not only adversely affects their economies but also limits the opportunities for good-paying jobs for many of their citizens.