Arkansas Trucking Association

Hotfoot Gets Ruling to Help Arkansas Trucking Companies

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Arkansas trucking company, Hotfoot Logistics has collected from an out of state delinquent account after seven long years of litigation.

David Lasater, the CEO of Hotfoot Logistics in Little Rock, Ark., has perhaps made it easier for Arkansas trucking companies to collect from out-of-state creditors. All because of an unpaid $5,700 trucking bill.

The bill was “the perfect amount of money. It’s enough that it hurts, but not enough we can afford to send lawyers after it for years,” Lasater said.

In Nov. 2008, Hotfoot agreed to a contract with Shipping Points Marketing and its broker Western Brokerage of Phoenix to transport produce from Arizona to Albany, NY, and Scranton, Pa.

Laseter assigned the job to Justin Pierce, a driver with Freight Ambulance of Cabot, Ark. Pierce delivered the goods and returned the bill of lading to Lasater, who then sent the invoice to Phoenix.

When the broker disbanded, Shipping Points said it wasn’t responsible for the balance. However, Shipping Points and Western Brokerage had the same billing address, and David Fishgold ran Shipping Points and Louis Fishgold ran Western.

Lasater sued both companies and the Fishgolds in Arkansas. The case was dismissed originally because of jurisdiction issues, but Lasater doubled down and kept appealing.

Small Arkansas trucking companies are familiar with this issue. Turning down business isn’t an option, but if the company that refuses to pay is in another state, how much money will it take to go to that state and try to get it through the court system?

For Hotfoot, the transaction took place in Little Rock. Driver Pierce had started his trip from Cabot, and the bill was sent to and from Little Rock.

“It might cost $10,000 to get the $1,000, and they were using that to say they can’t afford to come after us,” Lasater said. “We decided we had to fight that out. If it was $100,000, everybody knows you have to go after it. This is death by a thousand cuts.”

The Arkansas Supreme Court ruled that Hotfoot did have the ability to sue an Arizona-based entity in Arkansas because much of the business was transacted in Arkansas through faxes. After the Supreme Court issued its ruling in November, Shipping Points settled with Lasater rather than continue the court battle.

The Supreme Court also issued a ruling that could have a huge effect on his fellow Arkansas trucking brokers and carriers conducting business with parties outside of Arkansas.

“They carried all the water for the entire industry,” said Shannon Newton, the president of the Arkansas Trucking Association. “This was a really big problem. This is especially important for small carriers that don’t have the resources to chase down creditors across the country.”

“It would have been a serious financial hit,” Lasater said. “We would have gotten stuck for six years of lawyer fees. The most important thing is the ruling. We’re not a big carrier that can throw five law firms at someone and scare them.

Trucking Goes On-Demand

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The same concept that enables people to get a taxi, private car or rideshare from an app on their mobile phone has inspired a Nevada company to extend this application to the trucking industry.

Uber and other “sharing economy” applications is the inspiration behind On the Move Systems Corp. (OMVS) to bring a unique, on-demand services to the U.S. trucking industry, the company announced today.

The Henderson, Nev., company has begun development on a new program designed to save time and money on trucking by connecting users directly with individual service providers.

“It’s a revolutionary business model with the potential to make interstate shipping easier and more efficient than ever before. OMVS is now building the tools to tap that potential,” said OMVS CEO Robert Wilson.

According to data from the American Trucking Associations (ATA), nearly 70 percent of all the freight tonnage moved in the U.S. goes on trucks. Wilson said that an online community allowing businesses and consumers to hire trucks, combine cargo space and track shipments from loading dock to loading dock could be a game-changer for the multi-billion-dollar industry.

On the Move says its goal to join the next wave of transformative online businesses by using digital tools to connect transportation customers with smaller and independent trucking service providers. With development of OMVS’ new trucking program underway, the company’s first step will be building partnerships with smaller trucking firms, giving them an opportunity to compete in the same, wider marketplace as the biggest players.

Legislators Propose Drug Screening Changes for Drivers

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The commercial trucking industry would have more options available for pre-employment drug screenings under legislation two Arkansas lawmakers introduced in March in Congress.

The Drug Free Commercial Driver Act of 2015, filed by Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., and Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, would allow the U.S. Department of Transportation to recognize hair testing as an alternative option to the Department of Transportation required urinalysis testing.

“My bill’s only concern is improving the safety of our roads,” Crawford said. “Some drug users, when they know that a drug test is likely, are able to abstain for just a few days before the test and beat the system. This bill would catch a much larger percentage of those drivers and keep them off the roads.”

Many commercial trucking companies are already using hair tests because they find it is more effective in screening potential hires for drug or alcohol abuse. But because of federal regulations, those testing hair still have to conduct urinalysis tests. The bill would simply allow those companies to drop the duplicative process.

J.B. Hunt Transport has been testing hair and urine samples for nearly a decade. Between May 2006 and December 2014, the company had 110 driver applicants fail the urine test while 3,845 people had drug-positive hair test results. Schneider National, based in Green Bay, Wis., found similar results. Between March 2008 and June 2012, they had 120 prospective drivers fail the urine test while 1,400 applicants had drug-positive hair test results.

“Preventing drug users from operating commercial trucks will improve safety on our roads and enhance industry standards,” Boozman said. “This legislation eliminates the duplicative drug-testing process and allows trucking companies to use the more effective option, without having to pay for two tests.”

“Americans rely every day on the safety of our roads and highways as they commute to their jobs, travel to schools and recreational activities, and transport goods and products across the country,” co-sponsor Sen. Joe Manchin, D-WV, said.

This bill is supported by the American Trucking Associations, the Arkansas Trucking Association and the Trucking Alliance.

Arkansas Social Media Privacy Bills Unpopular with Facebook

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Facebook doesn’t “like” two bills being considered by state legislators – one that would allow certain employers to require access to their employees’ social media accounts, and one that would give personal representatives access to a deceased person’s digital records.

House Bill 1087 by Rep. Nate Bell, R-Mena, would allow entities working with minors as well as religious entities to require access to employees’ social media accounts. Employers at schools, day cares, and summer camps could require their employees to “friend” them on Facebook, for example. The bill would amend a 2013 law prohibiting any employer from having that requirement.

The bill passed the House, 91-1, on Feb. 23, with only Rep. Warwick Sabin, D-Little Rock, voting no. It has been referred to the Senate Committee on Public Health, Welfare and Labor.

The bill drew attention from Facebook. Spokesperson Andy Stone said, “Any legislation that requires employees to give employers access to their private communication is problematic, but this bill goes even further by compelling minors to provide an adult employee or supervisor access to their social media accounts.”

Facebook also is opposed to House Bill 1362, the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, by Rep. Matthew Shepherd, R-El Dorado. It would allow a deceased person’s personal representative access to his or her digital information. Both bills failed to garner support in the Senate.

CSA Scoring System Under Attack

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Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Pa., reintroduced the Safer Trucks and Buses Act, which would reform safety scores for trucks and buses by making the scores more reflective of the company’s safety record.

The legislation, HR1371, would temporarily halt the publication of what Barletta called flawed safety scores until the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Compliance Safety Accountability (CSA) scoring system is revamped. 

The Barletta legislation requires FMCSA to stop publishing safety scores until the CSA program is fixed.  Additionally, it prevents these scores from being used as evidence in liability cases.  In the meantime, the bill requires the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) — an independent, nonprofit, and non-partisan organization chartered by Congress — to work with FMCSA to develop a safety score improvement plan and implement that improvement plan.  Once the scores are improved, they will again be available for the public to make educated decisions about the safety of trucks and buses.

Dave Osiecki, executive vice president and chief of national advocacy at the American Trucking Associations said the ATA greatly appreciated Barletta’s efforts to improve CSA, and remove CSA scores from public view until the much-needed improvements are made.

The American Trucking Associations leaders have also urged FMCSA to change the CSA’s safety measurement system so that crashes are not posted on the list of carriers on the agency’s website. The current procedure makes carrier crash data publicly available without specifying who is at fault in a crash.

“FMCSA’s failure to address this real flaw is especially egregious in light of its push to make CSA scores easier for the public to access and its encouragement that the public make decisions based on what they know to be faulty information,” ATA President Bill Graves said. 

While everyone throughout the industry and even the enforcement community seem to agree the CSA scoring mechanism is flawed, some have stopped shy of asking for the scores to be taken down. The Arkansas Trucking Association Board of Directors recently voted to keep the information public to while improvements are sought. Board members contended that having the information public causes companies and drivers to be more safety conscious and that taking the scores down might decrease the urgency of the desired fix.

Arkansas Highway Department Withdraws Construction Projects

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The Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department has withdrawn 56 construction projects scheduled for consideration in its April 21 bid opening because of continuing uncertainty of federal-aid reimbursements available from the Federal Highway Trust Fund.

The estimated value of projects withdrawn is more than $112 million and includes $50 million authorized by the Arkansas Highway Commission for its 2015 highway overlay program. The estimated construction value of the withdrawn projects is $162 million.

“If you stop and think about the economic impact this has — not only on construction jobs, but the lost commerce that results in each local area because construction isn’t taking place — then you begin to understand the trickle-down effect and the urgency of solving this national problem,” said AHTD Director Scott Bennett.

Since December 2014, AHTD has been conducting an evaluation of scheduled federally-funded projects prior to each bid letting to ensure sufficient state funds are available to fulfill commitments.

Rising Driver Compensation Could Up Truckload Pricing

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Hefty increases in truck driver wages are expected to propel truckload rates higher in 2015, pushing pricing up by double digits, a transportation analyst warns.

“While our current earnings models assume low-to-mid-single-digit (truckload) price increases over the next couple of years, we would like to point out these estimates will likely be proven wrong,” David G. Ross, a managing director at the Stifel Transportation and Logistics Research Group in Baltimore, said.

Truckload carriers will need to raise driver pay substantially to attract the type of qualified candidates needed to haul freight. On top of that, a host of new driver-related regulations will make hiring truck drivers harder, and more expensive.

“The biggest cost component for a truckload carrier is labor (which is primarily drivers), comprising anywhere from 25 percent to 35 percent of revenue,” Ross said. “Therefore, if we believe (truckload) driver wages need to go up approximately 50 percent to bring them in-line with the (wages paid in the) LTL market and attract significant new entrants, underlying pricing would need to rise 12 percent to 18 percent, all else equal, to fund these increases.”

Continued economic growth will create more trucking jobs but those jobs are likely to be even harder to fill. As the U.S. unemployment rate drops toward 5 percent in 2015, fewer hireable candidates — those who are drug-free and have good driving records — will be available for trucking companies to bring onboard. They’ll already be working elsewhere.

That will only serve to push driver pay and trucking rates higher, especially if U.S. wages overall begin to rise, as many economists anticipate. And that may finally narrow or even close the widening gap between the average truck driver wage and the average overall U.S. wage, a gap that widened from 1 percent in 2001 to nearly 12 percent in 2013.

ATA Announces $1 Million Dividend from Workers' Compensation Fund

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The Arkansas Trucking Association Self-Insurers' Fund has declared a $1 million dividend to 48 trucking companies that are enrolled in its workers' compensation insurance trust.

The Arkansas Trucking Association created the insurance trust in 1993 to pay the workers' compensation claims for employees injured on the job.

Employees of trucking companies that enrolled in the insurance group are covered. Since 1993, the trucking insurance fund has paid out almost $44 million to injured workers.

"We are so excited to be able to reward our member companies for excellent performance," said Shannon Newton, the association's president. "Our fund is evidence that small businesses can work together for mutual benefit. In this case, pooling with one another to cover the medical costs of their injured workers and be self-sustaining and financially stable."

Newton said that the fund has distributed more than $22 million in dividends to enrolled trucking companies since the Arkansas Trucking Association created the fund. Dividends can be declared by the fund's board of trustees after injury claims and other expenses are paid, and distribution is subject to approval by the Arkansas Workers' Compensation Commission.

The association hopes to be able to distribute dividend checks at their annual meeting April 29 in Hot Springs. "Our member companies are true believers. Time and again, our fund has proven to be a reliable and affordable way to provide workers' comp insurance," said Newton. According to Newton, the Arkansas Workers' Compensation Commission is expected to approve the dividend distribution within a few days.

CRASH ACCOUNTABILITY TOO EXPENSIVE AND INEFFICIENT FMCSA SAYS

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FMCSA's Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) system for evaluating carrier safety has long been criticized by the trucking industry. Trucking points out that CSA does not distinguish between accidents in which the truck or truck driver is to blame and accidents in which the truck clearly was not at fault. Accidents factor into CSA's Crash Indicator BASIC, a calculation which ranks carriers based on their propensity for accidents.

Following the release of a study in January, FMCSA claimed that incorporating crash accountability into CSA scores would not improve the DOT's ability to target for intervention carriers most at risk for crashes, nor would it be easy to implement or cost-effective.

"It is not lost on the trucking industry that the word 'Accountability' is in the title of CSA, yet FMCSA continues to ignore crash accountability," said American Trucking Associations Executive Vice President Dave Osiecki.

“Analysis using all crashes shows that incorporating crash weighting determinations does not consistently improve the Crash Indicator when the various weighting approaches are applied,” the study concludes,

And because the process for determining crash weighting — receiving accident reports from police, analyzing and making crash fault determination, weighting the crash appropriately and then going through an appeals process — would be so lengthy, incorporating crash fault into SMS rankings may be a moot point, the agency says, as SMS rankings only use crashes from the preceding two-year period.

The agency’s report also says incorporating crash accountability into CSA would cost between $3.9 million and $11.1 million each year, depending on how many accidents are reviewed, the appeals brought and the agency’s final process for determining crash weighting.

 

CONSUMER CONFIDENCE, SPENDING SIGNALS ECONOMIC RECOVERY

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There are now 3.2 million more Americans earning paychecks than there were 12 months ago. That additional cash tends to boost consumer spending, which drives about 70 percent of economic growth.

Americans are feeling better about the economy. Consumer confidence jumped in January to its highest level in a decade, according to a survey by the University of Michigan. And consumers increased their spending during the final three months of last year at the fastest pace in nearly nine years.

Companies that benefit most directly from consumer spending have ramped up hiring since the fall, when gas price savings began to pile up in Americans' bank accounts. Retailers added 45,900 jobs in January, hotels and restaurants 37,100.

Construction companies have been a source of big job gains. They've added 308,000 jobs in the past 12 months, nearly 10 percent of the overall gain.

Mark Vitner, an economist at Wells Fargo, says shifts in how Americans shop might have given the job market a temporary lift. Online shopping has boosted warehousing, shipping and trucking jobs during the winter shopping season, Vitner said.

TRUCKING EMPLOYMENT NEAR 8-YEAR HIGH

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The for-hire trucking industry added 2,400 jobs in January on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to the Department of Labor's monthly report, released Feb. 6. It also upwardly revised December's job gains to 11,900 -- up from the 7,300.

For-hire trucking employment now totals 1.443 million on a seasonally adjusted basis -- up 3.5 percent from January 2014's 1.3947 million. It's also up 16.9 percent from March 2010's bottom from the most recent recession.

U.S. MAKES CROSS-BORDER MEXICAN TRUCKS PERMANENT

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Federal officials are making permanent a controversial three-year pilot program that allows Mexican truckers to haul goods inside the U.S. beyond the border zone. FMCSA will soon start accepting applications from Mexican truckers who didn’t participate in the pilot but want the authority to operate beyond the U.S.-Mexico border region.

The move is likely to be met with significant backlash from groups representing independent truckers and labor interests, who teamed up in 2011 to unsuccessfully sue DOT in an attempt to scuttle the program.

Critics maintain that FMCSA didn’t have enough participants to determine if it would be safe to make the program permanent, an assessment the DOT’s Inspector General agreed with.

FMCSA maintains the program is safe, saying the agency’s decision also took into account safety data from the nearly 1,000 Mexico carriers already allowed to operate beyond the U.S. border zone. A FMCSA analysis determined that those carriers and the 15 pilot participants operated just as safely as U.S. and Canadian carriers over the life of the program.

Contact Us

Arkansas Trucking Association
PO Box 3476 (72203)
1401 West Capitol Ave.
Little Rock, AR 72201

(501) 372-3462 | Phone
(501) 376-1810 | Fax

Our Mission

  • PROTECT the collective interests of trucking companies in the political and regulatory arenas.
  • PROMOTE the dynamics of trucking so that people have a better understanding of the link between America's primary freight delivery system and the standard of living they enjoy.
  • SERVE our members to help them to grow their business and their profits
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