Arkansas Trucking Association

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ATA Announces 2020 Driver and Safety Professional of the Year

On Wednesday, Aug. 25, the Arkansas Trucking Association announced the 2020 Driver of the Year, Dean Roberts, and 2020 Safety Professional of the Year, Roger Carson. Roberts is a professional driver for Dedicated Logistics, a carrier headquartered in Crossett. Carson is the vice president of safety at Oakley Trucking, Inc. in North Little Rock. Both honors were bestowed at the Safety Awards Luncheon during the ATA Annual Business Conference & Vendor Showcase in Hot Springs, Ark.

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Up Front- G.O.A.T.

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Shannon Newton
President, ATA

We tend to categorize, label and rank everything around us. Being human is to analyze and keep records of the best, the worst, the most, and the least, to assign order to all the things.

Superlatives sell. That’s why you see billboards for the biggest steak, the highest rollercoaster and the fastest car.  Later this summer, millions will tune in as the Olympic Games deliver some of the most impressive superlatives in the world. Athletes will earn titles like fastest runner, strongest weightlifter, highest jumper, best gymnast.

In trucking, I’ve seen another superlative making the headlines, declaring the driver shortage is the worst it’s ever been. In July 2019, months before the global pandemic, American Trucking Associations released its latest numbers on the shortage, urging the industry to hire 1.1 million new drivers over the next decade, or an average of 110,000 drivers each year.

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Arkansas Road Team Welcomes Five New Captains

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The Arkansas Trucking Association is pleased to announce it has selected five new members to join the Arkansas Road Team, a group of professional drivers chosen for their commitment to highway safety, communication skills and interest in improving the image of the trucking industry. This complimentary outreach program of the ATA serves as a public education service to address highway safety and to educate the motoring public on safe driving, especially near large commercial vehicles.

The following professional drivers were selected for the Arkansas Road Team:
Wesley Cox of Fayetteville, Ark. – J.B. Hunt Transport       
Ronnie Mahan of Sherwood, Ark. – FedEx Freight        
Donnie Pace of Little Rock, Ark. – ABF Freight 
Lazaro Ruiz of Bono, Ark. – Old Dominion Freight Line  
Austin Simmons of Siloam Springs, Ark. – FedEx Freight         

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The Last Word

From Essential to Tax Target

By Johnathan Kennemer

For months, truckers were applauded for our nonstop efforts to keep the country moving despite the coronavirus pandemic. We were essential workers who kept critical supplies on the shelves and allowed other Americans to stay home and stay safe. It wasn’t easy to send drivers into the unknown, but at least the necessity of our industry was in the spotlight, understood and appreciated.

While the country continues to recover from the loss of lives and livelihoods, we’re trying to get our own house in order as we suffer the greatest driver shortage I’ve ever seen. Truckers were heroes carrying the first doses of life-saving vaccines not six months ago. Now, we are targets.

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U.S. DOT Secretary Buttigieg Says I-40 Bridge “Critical” to National and Global Supply Chain

I 40 Bridge Closure Update

Secretary visits Memphis to view damage, meet with industry leaders

On June 3, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg visited Memphis to survey the damage of the I-40 bridge and meet with local and industry leaders, shining a light on the importance of this major commerce corridor.

“The protracted closure has been frustrating, it has been difficult, it has been challenging and it has been costly,” Sec. Buttigieg said. “We often have a single piece of infrastructure in a single place that really influences the life of the entire country when it’s not available or when its availability is diminished. I want to emphasize our awareness as a department and an administration that the greater Memphis metro area is critical to the national supply chain and the global supply chain.”

Arkansas Trucking Association President Shannon Newton was invited to participate in a roundtable discussion with the Secretary where she highlighted the significant impact the bridge closure is having on trucking.

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Up Front- Where's Waldo?

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Shannon Newton
President, ATA

In the colorful pages of the Where’s Waldo picture books, the fun is supposed to be spotting the title character’s striped shirt, coke bottle glasses and red stocking cap. The challenge is the distracting scenes around him. Waldo always gets lost among the other loud people and patterns on the page. He’s never social distancing. He’s always in a bustling crowd. That’s why you feel a little proud when you finally find him.

If you’ve seen any of the news coverage of recent legislative session in Arkansas, there were a lot of distracting and controversial headlines. You might have been discouraged from finding what you were looking for by some of the loud people and patterns there too!

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The Last Word

Weston Mars

Trust, Faith and Germ-X

By Weston Mars

Everyone’s pandemic experience has been unique and isolating. We’ve been able to watch each other go through it online or post on social media, but I don’t think people understood my job driving a truck before COVID-19. It’s a harder picture to paint now, after everything.

It feels like a lifetime ago, but it was probably around December of 2019 when I first started hearing blips about some bug going around thousands of miles away. It didn’t seem like a major threat.

I didn’t realize how wrong I was.

I was driving for FedEx during the busy holiday season with no cases reported in the U.S. so I didn’t take notice until much later. By March, we started classifying what was and wasn’t “essential” because we had to move food, water and medical supplies first.

I was on long haul, driving from center to center, and some facilities weren’t allowing drivers to come inside. What I remember about that time was how truck driving became an even lonelier and quieter career than it already was. Without access to break rooms or anywhere to mingle with other drivers, I was on the phone with friends, coworkers and people I knew from other companies guessing what might come next. We knew that our job was going to stay important because in disasters, moving freight is always necessary, but the fear of getting sick was new.

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Up Front- A little birdie told me

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Shannon Newton
President, ATA

Birds are supposed to be skilled at predicting the weather and enduring the elements.

Science says it’s something about barometric pressure and how the winged creatures have a sense for that sort of thing. Some birds binge eat to fatten up before a storm. Some build better nests to shelter them through it. And some bypass the ordeal entirely and fly south for the season. What birds have yet to master or learn through evolution… is the concept of glass. 

On Feb. 16, the ground was covered with half a foot of snow, and another round was in the forecast. On my way out of Target, I noticed a baby bird trapped in purgatory between the two sets of automatic doors. My arms were draped with shopping bags carrying the essential supplies (puzzles and candy) for surviving the coming snow days. I was bundled up in my parka and mask, kicking my legs to trigger the exterior doors to open and flapping my arms to shoo the bird outside. 

The poor thing was clearly traumatized and exhausted from flapping and flinging itself into what looked like blue skies on the other side of the glass. I scared it from one side to another and then back before it just gave up.

Finally, the bird was left with no other option than to give in to whatever came next. I was afraid it might flutter or bite me out of fear, but the bird was forced to trust me to pick it up and carry it outside to freezing freedom.

If it’s hard to picture me as the eccentric lady attempting to save baby animals in the Target vestibule, thank goodness. But unusual circumstances can push us to take on unfamiliar roles.

Local meteorologist Todd Yakobian said this is a rare weather event, the kind you tell your grandkids about; five years’ worth of snow in three days. We are all navigating unfamiliar territory: Snowmageddon 2021, a global pandemic, a volatile market, K-shaped recoveries, and social challenges we may have never confronted before. 

In life, in business, how many times do we pursue what we think are blue skies, using the same tactics that have always worked to no avail?  How hard must we try to do it our way? How scared of failure or demise must we be before we allow an unfamiliar influence to show us a different way? To deliver us to a place where we can be successful?

I don’t know who needs to hear this, but if your pipes are frozen, your business is stalling or your political strategy is deadlocked, recognize who’s around to support you. Someone is likely willing to show you a different way.

I’ve got much respect for the confused fowl that clutched my palm through the entry way. There’s wisdom in admitting when you’ve hit the glass too many times and accepting help to the other side.

The Last Word

Doing hard things

By Rep. David Ray

On Feb. 4th, I presented my first bill on the House floor. As a freshman legislator, and especially as one of the youngest members of the House, I was nervous. I was also nervous for another reason: I wasn’t sure my bill would actually pass.

My bill, HB 1368, would require special elections to be held on one of two standardized dates that are consistent and predictable from year to year. The reason I ran this bill is simple: it's not fair to voters to hold elections on random and unpredictable dates, especially elections that raise their taxes. It’s one of the reasons we have high taxes compared to neighboring states. But this happens all the time.

This may not sound controversial, but I assure you it is in certain quarters—there are many groups with a vested interest in preserving the status quo. The Arkansas Municipal League and many school superintendents didn’t like the bill. They argued it would restrict local control and make it difficult to pass local projects such as school improvements or funding for libraries.

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From the President

2021TDClogo

2021 Arkansas Trucking Championship Cancelled

We are disappointed to announce that the 2021 Arkansas Trucking Championship, previously scheduled for June 11-13, is cancelled. This announcement follows the cancellation of the American Trucking Associations' National Truck Driving Championship & National Step Van Driving Championships (NTDC/NSVDC).

After consulting with numerous member companies about their willingness to send competitors, volunteers and equipment, it became clear we would not have the numbers necessary to host a successful championship.

For half a century, we have recognized safety and excellence in the professional technicians and drivers from across our state by bringing them together to compete. Together with peers and families, we have celebrated their successes.

Drivers and technicians, thank you for all of the hard work you continue to deliver day in and day out. Your dedication to doing this job safely in the most complicated of situations has never been more evident than what we have witnessed over the past year. 

To the volunteers, employers, families and fans, please join us in thanking and celebrating these heroes from afar. We must continue to show our appreciation and to recognize all they put on the line so we can move our nation forward. 

We hope to see you all safe and healthy in 2022.

Up Front- Before, during, after: hope

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Shannon Newton
President, ATA

2020. A number. A year. An era. A verb. A tragedy. A triumph. A numbing out. A waking up. A distancing. A coming together.

It’s been almost 20 years since Sept. 11, 2001, when hijacked planes flew into the towers and buried our sense of security beneath rubble in New York City. Still, every year, people, unprompted, tell us what they were doing when they heard the news, where they were when they watched it happen on TV. It was a moment in our nation’s history that had a before and an after.

As I’m writing this, 2020 is about to end, and I’m searching for a single moment that I might remember in 20 years. There have been many I won’t forget, but we didn’t get that demarcation between the before and the after that we all experienced together. The whole year has been “during” the pandemic. Even when we didn’t know it was here in the United States, perhaps as early as December 2019 or early January 2020, spreading slowly at first, unnoticed.  The pandemic was happening to us.

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The Last Word

One state's scheme threatens the whole industry

By Chris Spear

It is more than 1,400 miles from Little Rock to Providence, R.I. – more than 20 hours of driving to get from statehouse to statehouse, but what is happening there could have a profound effect on truckers in Arkansas and across the country.

In 2016, leaders in Rhode Island came up with RhodeWorks, a financing scheme to outsource funding for their failing infrastructure by tolling only large trucks. And not all large trucks – but just combination trucks mostly from outside Rhode Island. Politicians in Rhode Island made it clear, the brunt of the tolls was going to be borne not by citizens of Rhode Island, or even businesses in Rhode Island, but by out-of-staters who need to travel to or through the state.

It was robbing Peter to pay for Paul’s roads – if Peter lived three states away and was asked to deliver Paul’s groceries.

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Trucking Executive Update - Celebrations and Salutations

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Shannon Newton
President, ATA

When the world came to a screeching halt this spring, trucks delivered the supplies needed to shelter in place. As people prepared to bring their whole lives under one roof, we delivered their laptops, desks, treadmills, medicine and much-coveted toilet paper. With a vaccine ready, trucks are delivering what we need to be able to safely leave our homes again.

Are we glad to put 2020 in our rearview mirror? Absolutely, but we accomplished a lot this year, both as an industry and as an association. We are winning a nationwide PR campaign that prominently portrays truck drivers as the frontline heroes they are. Here in Arkansas, we had a major victory on the ballot with the passage of Issue 1 in favor of better roads.

I want to thank you, your company and all our safe, professional drivers for stepping up and meeting each challenge – and there were plenty this year. Despite shutdowns and constantly-evolving regulations, you delivered. I also want to extend a special appreciation to our PAC and Governmental Affairs Fund contributors who helped make this year a success at the polls.

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Highway Dollars and Sense: Vote for Roads. Vote for Issue 1.

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Vote for Roads. Vote for Issue 1.

Ed. note: In November 2020, Arkansas voters will have the power to decide if the state should keep collecting a half-cent sales tax in order to raise over $205 million annually for state highways and bridges, plus an additional $43 million each for counties and cities. In each issue leading up to the election, we have covered the potential impact of that decision. In this month’s issue, we tackle the economics. We encourage you to educate yourself before you vote and to help educate your friends, family, neighbors and coworkers who will help Arkansas make critical choices about our state’s infrastructure. Read Part 1 of this special series "Highway Dollars and Sense" on the political history of the half-cent sales tax for infrastructure Part 2 on the necessity of roads to our everyday lives, Part 3 on how highway funding creates a safer state for everyone, and Part 4 on the economic repercussions of making the temporary tax permanent.

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Every time that we arrive at this moment—days before the election—we’re always ready for it. Maybe every election cycle, we get more anxious for the attack ads and op-eds to end, for holiday cards to replace candidate fliers in our mailboxes, for the conversation to be about anything else.

The Governor and advocates for Issue 1 have taken every opportunity to tell voters about what a YES vote would mean for drivers on Arkansas roads. There have been challenges of campaigning across the state when the pandemic thwarted original plans, and opponents have also spent time trying to persuade voters.

If you are still on the fence, we hope you’ll consider reading our entire series “Highway Dollars and Sense,” but to sum up, Arkansas Trucking Association has been working toward a reliable infrastructure package for over a decade. Right now, we have a chance to seize the moment and make it happen as voters. Funding roads by continuing to collect a half-cent sales tax will allow people in all corners of the state to have access to an essential resource, maintain and improve safety, and support the economy and prosperity of communities.

Voters get to make it happen

Issue 1 has had late opposition organize in the weeks leading up to the election. One consistent argument is that a tax should not be written into our state Constitution. It’s not a controversial stance to want to revere and preserve our most fundamental state text. In fact, just down the ballot, Issue 3 proposes to make it more difficult for lawmakers and petitioners to change the Constitution.

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Up Front- Vote for Roads. You earned it.

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Shannon Newton
President, ATA

In Arkansas, and around the country, having well-funded and well-maintained infrastructure is not a foregone conclusion. For decades, we, along with other stakeholders and elected officials have tried and failed.

Until every vote has been counted, we won’t know if this time was different.  The passage of Issue 1 on November 3rd would finally secure a long-term funding solution for the maintenance and upkeep of roads and bridges across the state. 

But even before knowing if we have been successful, I can say thank you for being a part of the effort.   Everyone—even our opposition—recognizes the problem. You likely drove over, around or through the problem this morning. It isn’t a secret or partisan or at all divisive to say, many roads and bridges are not fit for the future we want. I’m so proud of the policy makers, professional stakeholders, and also all of you who have a personal stake in seeing a need and not being satisfied with looking away from it.

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The Last Word

A Case for Issue 1

Originally published in Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

By Dr. Doug Voss

Arkansas needs good roads, and that’s not changing in the foreseeable future.  Without roads, more than 86 percent of Arkansas communities would have no reliable means to receive groceries or ship goods produced by local factories and farms.  Roads are critically important to business owners large and small, farmers hauling grain to the elevator, commuters who need to get to work on time, and parents who need to safely get their kids to school.

However, financing roads has always been a sticky widget.  To overcome this issue, in the early 1900s, able-bodied Arkansans between the ages of 21 and 45 were required to spend five days per year working on roads or contribute the monetary equivalent of their labor.  I’m 44 and teach 21 year olds.  You don’t want us rookies building your roads by hand, and I doubt many in the audience strongly desire to take our place.  Therefore, our state relies on tax dollars and professional engineering crews to build and maintain our roads and bridges. Road revenue primarily comes from fuel taxes.  As our vehicles have become more fuel efficient, the fuel tax revenue used to fund our roads has stagnated while the cost of road construction has increased.  The Arkansas Department of Transportation reports that $10 million would overlay 200 miles of highway in 1998.  In 2018, the same amount covers only 90 miles.

The future of our roadway infrastructure is at hand.  In the upcoming election we have the opportunity to vote yes on Issue 1 and provide our cities, counties, and state with sustainable resources dedicated to road and bridge construction and maintenance.  Issue 1 will not raise your taxes.  It asks voters to reauthorize a half cent sales tax that has been in place since 2012 and is scheduled to expire in 2023.  The revenue will be dedicated solely to the construction and maintenance of our state’s highways, county roads, and municipal streets. 

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Highway Dollars and Sense: Power of the Purse After a Pandemic

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Power of the Purse After a Pandemic

Ed. note: In November 2020, Arkansas voters will have the power to decide if the state should keep collecting a half-cent sales tax in order to raise over $205 million annually for state highways and bridges, plus an additional $43 million each for counties and cities. In each issue leading up to the election, we’ll be covering the potential impact of that decision. In this month’s issue, we tackle the economics. We encourage you to educate yourself before you vote and to help educate your friends, family, neighbors and coworkers who will help Arkansas make critical choices about our state’s infrastructure. Read Part 1 of this special series "Highway Dollars and Sense" on the political history of the half-cent sales tax for infrastructure Part 2 on the necessity of roads to our everyday lives, and Part 3 on how highway funding creates a safer state for everyone.

hwy article imageIt’s no surprise that Issue 1, and most issues and candidates on the ballot, can’t be divorced from the current moment—we are in the middle of a pandemic that has created, highlighted and exacerbated problems in our society.

Throughout the pandemic, Arkansas’s Gov. Hutchinson has reminded citizens that both public health and the economy are on the line.

While the state’s economy has suffered as people reduced movement to contain the spread of the virus, Arkansas has fared better than many other states. Restaurants closed their dining rooms for months and swiftly adapted to safe, efficient, sometimes contactless take-out operations. Salons, tattoo parlors and gyms mostly had to cancel all their business during the first few weeks in order for hospitals to create plans and acquire supplies in case of a surge in cases.

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Up Front- Survival Skills

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Shannon Newton
President, ATA

As our trucks keep rolling and our industry continues to deliver for America, the health and safety of our members is of vital importance to us.  Together, we are facing a truly unprecedented situation.  The global coronavirus pandemic is affecting all of our businesses, families, communities and our way of life.

During this crisis, the association has remained committed to providing our members with the latest information, advocating for their best interest and highlighting our industry professionals as heroes.

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The Last Word

Innovation is good for business and for politics

By Sam Sicard and Davy Carter

Competent business leaders know that to improve, the status quo can never be acceptable. Continuous improvement requires innovation, an exchange of ideas and healthy competition. For Arkansas to grow, to be a place where more businesses invest in our people, we must have a political climate that embraces these values as well.

For too many years now, we’ve had conversations with fellow leaders of companies and business-friendly organizations about the frustration with the lack of pragmatism in our government. Not that long ago, there were very few elected extremists on both sides, and common-sense legislation would get passed that was good for Arkansans and for business.

When we evaluate the political environment now, this isn’t what we see. Due to an election system that stifles competition, we find a government in perpetual left- and right-wing ideological warfare. Our government is gridlocked. On both sides of the aisle, pragmatic solutions have been exchanged for towing the party line.

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Highway Dollars and Sense: A Safer Way Home

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A Safer Way Home

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Ed. note: In November 2020, Arkansas voters will have the power to decide if the state should keep collecting a half-cent sales tax in order to raise over $205 million annually for state highways and bridges, plus an additional $43 million each for counties and cities. In each issue leading up to the election, we’ll be covering the potential impact of that decision. In this month’s issue, we tackle how the money we spend on infrastructure is money invested in our own safety. We encourage you to educate yourself before you vote and to help educate your friends, family, neighbors and coworkers who will help Arkansas make critical choices about our state’s infrastructure. Read Part 1 of this special series "Highway Dollars and Sense" on the political history of the half-cent sales tax for infrastructure and Part 2 on the necessity of roads to our everyday lives.

About 12 months ago, Gov. Asa Hutchinson declared a state of emergency when the Arkansas River rose over 40 feet. The Army Corps of Engineers were looking at maps of northwest Arkansas and projections of which highways would be under water in the event of a 200-year flood. The levees broke; the waters rose. The historic flooding was the top news story in the state for 2019.

Arkansans will remember that routes all over the state shut down. Actually 40 segments of highways had to close because of flooding. It left lasting damage long after the water receded. A whole section of asphalt was carried away with the current, leaving a huge, dangerous hole in Highway 155 near Dardanelle.

Six months later, repairs were still underway.

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Up Front- The Not-So-Great Unknown

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Shannon Newton
President, ATA

Our trucking community stretches everywhere the roads connect.  It doesn’t simply stop at state borders. And for this issue, we headed to Sapulpa, Okla., outside of Tulsa, for a first time visit to a long time ATA member, John Christner Trucking. 

I had seen in industry and social media how John Christner Trucking had encountered early cases of COVID-19 within their staff and how new president Danny Christner had openly shared his efforts to protect his workforce and continue serving customers. Impressed, I wanted to meet him myself and introduce him to our readers.

On Wednesday, May 20, I was excited to attend the interview because from our limited previous interaction, I knew Danny to be full of energy and personality. So, I woke up early and headed 300 miles west. 

Perhaps more than others, I feel comfortable and capable when I have plenty of information and control of my choices. I imagine this is how drivers feel when they start each day.  They want to know the weather, the traffic conditions, the obstacles, the cities along their route, and then be free to make the choices that will get them to their destination on time and safely.

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The Last Word

From COVID-19 to equality of opportunity, it is time for trucking to lead

By Mark Colson

Truckers are leaders, plain and simple.  All of the 3.5 million individuals working in our business across America know this, and following trucking’s response to COVID-19, Americans are now more aware than ever of the strong and courageous leadership provided by truckers. 

In hard times and good times, crisis or Christmas, truckers deliver the goods for America safely and efficiently.  We have proven ourselves to be the cavalry of America’s economy through many challenges such as 9/11, hurricanes and pandemics.

As COVID-19 and the emergency shutdowns in response to it still linger, the trucking economy hangs in uncertainty. Yet, America is facing another major challenge: racial equality and justice.  This is not a new challenge. It has been present since the founding of our great nation.  Along the way, there have been astounding tragedies and triumphant progress, but there is still much road to cover.

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Highway Dollars and Sense: Mythbusting and Life Saving on the Essentiality of Open Roads

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Mythbusting and Life Saving on the Essentiality of Open Roads

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Ed. note: In November 2020, Arkansas voters will have the power to decide if the state should keep collecting a half-cent sales tax in order to raise over $205 million annually for state highways and bridges, plus an additional $43 million each for counties and cities. Leading up to the election, we’ll be covering the history and potential impact of that decision. We encourage you to educate yourself before you vote and to help educate your friends, family, neighbors and coworkers who will help Arkansas make critical choices about our state’s infrastructure. Read part 1 of this special series "Highway Dollars and Sense" on the political history of the half-cent sales tax for infrastructure.

A Myth

It’s a popular misconception that the driving force behind the Interstate highway system was civil defense.

Pres. Dwight Eisenhower was lobbying for a highway proposal in the 1950s when the threat of an atomic bomb was never far from any American’s mind. Evacuating the cities in the event of a nuclear attack wouldn’t be efficient on the country’s current roads; a smooth way out in emergencies was necessary.

This wasn’t the reason that the country needed to fund the construction of a well-connected series of highways. It was just a perk.

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Up Front- Re-route to remain

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Shannon Newton
President, ATA

Unlike ever before, Americans are universally experiencing a common truth…  virtually nothing is going according to plan. In February, I sat down with my team for our regular editorial meeting to discuss the next issue of the magazine. Usually, Issue 2 is distributed at our annual conference, held each spring. It is delivered to attendees’ hotel rooms and blown up for display in the convention center. We brainstormed and assigned stories we thought readers would find interesting and insightful, including the story you’ll find on page 21 about a public health crisis in China that had affected the supply chain and had recently appeared in some patients on the U.S. West Coast.

A few weeks later, there were cases of that new virus, COVID-19, in Arkansas. In less than a fortnight, a protein invisible to the human eye brought everything to a screeching halt—except trucks. Those were still moving, and people were noticing that everything they needed to stay home and healthy was being delivered by men and women driving trucks. I called my managing editor and asked her how we could retool this issue of the magazine to address this global moment and focus on trucking’s role.

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The Last Word

The Truth of Full Shelves

By Alan Riels

When I was asked to contribute to the Arkansas Trucking Report, my first thought was “With everything I have going on and what this country and our industry is facing, I do not have time.”  However, I realized time is an important resource I can contribute to The Driver. 

I have been in the industry for 37 years and have been a business owner for 20 years.  As an “old school” person in a “new school” world, I have seen the perception of truck driving jobs change. At times, they have been considered a-dime-a-dozen, and other times, driving is rightly recognized as one of the most important jobs in the American supply chain. For far too long, I believe the driver has been taken for granted, and it is a shame that it takes something like COVID-19 disrupting the supply chain for our nation to realize how important our drivers are to us all.   

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Highway Dollars and Sense: Why the Choice is Yours

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Why the choice is yours

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Ed. note: In November 2020, Arkansas voters will have the power to decide if the state should keep collecting a half-cent sales tax in order to raise over $205 million annually for state highways and bridges, plus an additional $43 million each for counties and cities. Leading up to the election, we’ll be covering the history and potential impact of that decision. We encourage you to educate yourself before you vote and to help educate your friends, family, neighbors and coworkers who will help Arkansas make critical choices about our state’s infrastructure. Read part 2 of this special series "Highway Dollars and Sense" on why the roads in Arkansas have been essential to our way of life on an average Monday and in the middle of a crises.

Last spring was a big win for roads in Arkansas.  You probably heard Gov. Hutchinson claiming to have signed the biggest highway bill in the state’s history. It’s true. In a bipartisan effort, the executive and legislative branches came together with major stakeholders (like Arkansas Farm Bureau, The Poultry Foundation, Arkansas Municipal League, Arkansas Association of Counties and Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce) to find a way to start closing the gap between the amount we have and how much it really costs to maintain and develop the transportation infrastructure that connects our 75 counties to each other and the rest of the world. The Arkansas Department of Transportation estimated the gap to be $478 million.

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Up Front- Stand Up and Be Counted

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Shannon Newton
President, ATA

Every 10 years, we are completely different people in new bodies. Scientists have found that the human body replaces all its old cells with new ones. So roughly every decade, you don’t host any of the same cells that you used to. News flash, you literally aren’t who you were at 20 or 30 or 40. On your birthday or when you’re feeling particularly reflective, you might look back and notice all the ways your body has changed. You might make different decisions about fiber, wrinkle cream, nights out and exercise based on the body you have now.

Our country is regenerating, too. That’s why we take the census. The Constitution mandates that every 10 years we take a count of the population of all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories. It’s prudent that the decisions we make today reflect who we are as a country and not who we used to be.

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The Last Word

Hair raising results

By Dr. Doug Voss

Skyrocketing insurance rates driven by nuclear verdicts have led trucking companies to place an even greater emphasis on shoring up their safety performance.  According to Broughton Capital, LLC, insurance rates are responsible in part for a three-fold increase in trucking company bankruptcies during the first half of 2019 as compared to the same period in 2018.  Safety is a matter of life and death on the road and also threatens your company’s survival.

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Up Front- Roaring into the '20s

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Shannon Newton
President, ATA

If you’re the resolution-setting type, you already know the adage to celebrate the small wins. You ran that first mile. You wrote that first page. You took your first lesson. You saved that first dollar. Goals achieved and progress made is a result of a lot of small wins.

Celebrating the small stuff is great and all, but at the end of this long decade that we began in recovery from an economic crisis that closed the doors of many trucking companies, I’m ready to celebrate the big stuff. And as we roll into 2020, we have reason to celebrate some big wins for trucking.

First, the highway bill.  The Legislature passed Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s highway funding plan, the largest Arkansas history, in April. The first phase of that bill is in effect. In Oct., fuel taxes increased by 3 cents per gallon and 6 cents per gallon on diesel to fund roads and bridges. The casinos currently in construction across the state will guarantee $35 million annually for infrastructure. And when voters go to the poll in November 2020, they will be able to approve making a half cent sales tax permanent to give state highways, city streets and rural roads the money it takes to maintain and support commerce across this state.

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The Last Word

The Good, the bad and the ugly . . . today's commercial insurance market

By Jeff Threlkeld

The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) recently published its 2019 report on “Critical Issues in the Trucking Industry”.  Based on a survey of over 2100 trucking industry stakeholders in North America with 51% of the respondents being motor carriers, this report identifies the top 10 industry issues/concerns. Coming onto the national list in the #9 position—for the first time in the last 10 years of the ATRI report is “Insurance Cost/Availability.” For Arkansas-based trucking companies, insurance is an even greater concern as ATA President Shannon Newton confirmed this issue is #4 on the list of Arkansas respondents to the survey. If I had to make a prediction now regarding the rankings for the 2020 ATRI report, I would wager $100 that “Insurance Cost/Availability” will be moving up next year’s critical issues rankings list faster than NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson passing race cars in the last three laps at the Daytona 500.

The good news on the insurance market front is that workers compensation rates per $100 of payroll exposure have been decreasing across the country for several years. Owners and executives of companies that have recognized that their workplace safety costs and exposures are controllable and committed to an active role in the oversight of their workers comp programs have received the most financial benefit regarding these cost savings. In this state, the Arkansas Trucking Association Self Insurers’ Fund has been a partner to motor carriers for many years, providing them a competitive workers comp market, while also returning underwriting profits through dividends to its members.

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Counting crossword complaints

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Shannon Newton
President, ATA

People ask for your opinion all the time. Sometimes we like to give it unsolicited. Public opinion is used these day’s to critique everything from movies to presidents. As another campaign cycle begins, many of you will likely be asked your opinion on a number of issues or candidates. This kind of survey dates back to George Gallup, the “Babe Ruth of the polling profession,” whose passion for measuring the world and confidence in numerical data inspired him to develop the Gallup Poll.

Gallup was profiled in TIME’s May 1948 cover story. As an editor of his college newspaper, he wanted to know who was reading and what they liked. The old method for determining readership was omitting the crossword puzzle and counting the complaints. Instead, he began surveying readers about their thoughts.

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Rush Trucking 2019 - Career Opportunities

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The trucking industry provides jobs for one in every twelve working Arkansans. From dispatchers to accounting, sustainability officers, compliance specialists, marketing and hundreds of others, we bring the freight and jobs for Arkansas communities.

Find out more about the career and internship opportunities available from the following companies, who proudly  support  Arkansas Trucking Association's partnership with UCA Transportation Day.

Career Opportunities

Maverick

 

                        CCS Transportation

 

 

2019 Arkansas Trucking Championship

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Truck Driving Championship Winners   Technician Championship Winners

ATA would like to thank all the volunteers, sponsors, vendors, drivers, technicians, and fans that helped to make the 2019 Arkansas Trucking Championship the biggest to date!

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Up Front- Gone Fishin'

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Shannon Newton
President, ATA

It’s summertime. Time for beach vacations, pool days, theme parks and spending quality time doing things you enjoy with the people who make it enjoyable. 

In trucking, summer activities include a fast-paced produce season when those who haul fruits and vegetables have tight timelines for delivering watermelons and peaches to shelves in time for picnics and barbecues. While kids gather ‘round the campfire telling spooky stories before heading back to their bunks, bellies full of marshmallow, we are telling our own stories. It’s an essential part of what we do all year round, but the audiences vary from season to season.

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The Last Word

In the Water

By Dan Cushman

Twenty years ago, I was working for Werner Enterprises when a meeting with Walmart brought me to Northwest Arkansas for the first time. A memory of a map hanging in a fast food restaurant somewhere near Bentonville stays with me.

There were six big rivers. Two mountain ranges, seven caverns, over 2300 lakes, and 102,616 miles of public roads connected 75 counties. From my vinyl booth at McDonald’s or Hardee’s or wherever served hot biscuits and bad coffee, I could see flags on the map of some of the state’s big businesses—American Freightways (now FedEx Freight) in Harrison, J.B. Hunt Transport in Lowell, USA Truck in Van Buren, CalArk International in Little Rock, ABF Freight in Fort Smith, Walmart in Bentonville, Maverick Transportation in North Little Rock, and P.A.M. Transport (where I would end up ten years later) in Tontitown.

I remember sitting there with my friends and saying “What the hell is in the water here that all these trucking companies ended up in Arkansas?”

Of course, I picture red flags marking some of the biggest household names in trucking, but Arkansas is actually home to 4,850 trucking companies. Most of which are primarily, small, locally owned businesses. When I asked in jest, ‘why is this state particularly fertile ground for 18 wheeled businesses,’ I didn’t know that I would one day learn the answer, much less that I would be part of that answer.

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Up Front- Epicenter of the Economy

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Shannon Newton
President, ATA

The transportation sector is the 4th biggest contributor to the American GDP. Research from the Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics shows that accelerations and decelerations of the freight Transportation Statistics Index precede the growth cycles of the economy by about four months. We sit on top of the economic fault lines, so when plates begin to shift, trucking feels it first.

Over 200 years ago, the three most powerful earthquakes shook the U.S. along the New Madrid faults, a seismic zone from Arkansas to Illinois. On Dec. 16, 1811, northeast Arkansas was the epicenter of the first quake. For over 7 weeks, more earthquakes and intense aftershocks rippled up the fault lines, and the convulsions shook awake people in Pittsburgh. Even Pres. John Madison and his wife Dolly could feel the tremors in the White House.

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The Last Word

Can America Follow Arkansas' Lead on Highways?

By Chris Spear

Sometimes Arkansas seems to be a step ahead of the rest of the country with its vision and leadership.

In March, Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed into law what he called “the largest highway plan in the state’s history.” The legislation includes an increase of 3 cents for a gallon of gasoline and 6 cents more for diesel, and is expected to raise $95 million annually for the state’s highway system as part of a critical and ambitious new $300 million highway program.

In no small part, the successful passage of this legislation was due to the support of the Arkansas Trucking Association. The association had long pushed for a modest increase of the fuel tax, which had not been raised in a decade. Over that time, Arkansas – which has the 12th largest highway system in the nation – slipped to 43rd in spending on roads and bridges.

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Up Front- Champs

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Shannon Newton
President, ATA

Each year, one team raises their league’s distinct trophy, cup or bowl in the air in celebration of a year’s worth of hard work, dedication, success, and likely a little bit of luck. Champions secure their place in history, forever to be remembered for the collective effort to be the best.

The images remembered and stories re-told are often those final moments or decisive series of events.

Yet, if you’ve ever been so fortunate to be part of a championship team, you know there are many more less picturesque moments that contributed to the success. Often times there were years’ worth of preparation, conditioning and disappointment. But when the right team was assembled, aligned with opportunity and a little bit of good fortune, history was made.

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The Last Word

Does Black Smoke Matter

By David O'Neal

History is replete with grassroots movements that have improved working conditions, brought down governments and in many cases, effected genuine and lasting societal change.

Within the trucking industry, organized labor movements have met with relative success, ebbing and flowing over the decades. Yet grassroots efforts have generally fallen short of their goals.

So it is with “Black Smoke Matters”, a recent social media-driven push to influence regulations, primarily around hours-of-service.  Their name is an admitted adaptation of “Black Lives Matter”, a movement that campaigns against violence and racism. It’s also intended, according to their public comments, to evoke an “old school trucking” mindset of the days before environmental regulations cleaned up the exhaust and emissions. And there are elements of “Anonymous” in at least one of their online videos, complete with a Guy Fawkes mask, ominous music and a distorted and bass-heavy vocal track with menacing demands for what they consider reform.

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Up Front- Inquiry, Dopamine, and the Rowing Machine

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Shannon Newton
President, ATA

It feels so good to be right. Neuroscientists say we get a little rush of dopamine when we read or hear news that matches our beliefs about the world and success.  

Recently while at the gym I made a flippant comment, in attempt to make a loss sting a little less, about how boys were supposed to win a particular challenge.  I believed it to be true, but I didn’t really know with certainty.  It seemed logical to me that longer bodies with superior upper body strength would be advantageous for a row challenge measuring meters rowed in a given time.

As not to dwell on the loss, I quickly moved on to the next station and a new topic of small talk. 

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The Last Word

Holiday Traditions Bring Us Together

By Erica Brigance & Michelle Smith

This time of year, we take part in ingrained traditions, from the places we meet, the food we cook or the gifts we exchange. Likewise, the Arkansas Trucking Association’s 40 Under 40 Council has held to a near-decade long tradition of giving back during the holiday season.

The council, which meets quarterly at various locations across the state, always includes an end-of-year volunteer event to allow members to practice acts of kindness and generosity for communities or groups in need of holiday cheer. Previous events have included wrapping gifts for children in foster care and working with the Salvation Army to sort gifts for local children in need.

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Up Front- Find a Way to Win

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Shannon Newton
President, ATA

I would love to use this column to pat ourselves on the back and congratulate all of you on a big win for the trucking industry, but maybe next time. This one's about perseverance, commitment and our willingness as an industry, as advocates, to call an audible and continue the work because there's plenty of it.

For the better part of three years, we have strongly supported the American Trucking Associations efforts to find a solution to the F4A issue of federal preemption.  State laws conflicting with federal laws have subjected interstate carriers to the impossible task of attempting to comply with multiple sets of overlapping rules and made the industry a target for greedy trial lawyers looking to catch carriers out of compliance with the duplicative requirements.

Over this time period, legislative strategies have been created, executed, scrapped and re-drawn numerous times.  Members of Congress have come and gone.  We’ve hoped for relief from the nation’s highest court.  But each time we were close to delivering a victory, language was stripped, votes were whipped, the petition for hearing by the Supreme Court was denied, and we came up short.

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The Last Word

No Reason Good Enough Not to Vote

By David O'Neal

The general election on Nov. 3, 1992 was of profound consequence. A new administration took over Washington after 12 years of Reagan/Bush. Native-son Bill Clinton would lead that new administration, becoming the first Arkansan to hold the nation’s highest office.

And at age 18, it was the first of seven consecutive “generals” in which I would vote – up to and including 2016.

Twenty-six years ago, I couldn’t wait to vote, and I still get excited in anticipation of Election Day. Not everyone shares my enthusiasm, though. Nationwide, only around 55% of U.S. citizens voted in the 2016 general election – about the same as 1992. The midterms have an even lower voter participation rate.

Why do slightly less than half of our citizens forgo this fundamental right? Apathy? Ignorance? A different value-set?

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Up Front- My People

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Shannon Newton
President, ATA

Every September, we host a lunch at a local truck stop during National Truck Driver Appreciation Week. It’s not particularly fancy, but it does take a lot of volunteers, donations and ketchup packets to pull off. We welcome as many truck drivers as are able to take their lunch breaks with us as they are travelling I-40.

Serving burgers and hot dogs is not an integral part of my job. But I look forward to it every time the opportunity comes around, because I love spending time with the people in this industry.

A few weeks ago, I was in Malvern, Ark. at JM Bozeman Enterprises. Rep. Bruce Westerman had accepted our invitation to meet constituents and learn more about the trucking industry in his district. We walked through the dispatch “war room,” met the all-female safety team and toured the technicians’ shop before Rep. Westerman agreed to ride along with one of the senior drivers. They shook hands, took pictures, and told stories with the Congressman while showing him their lives.

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The Last Word

Lawsuit Reform is Key Ingredient for Arkansas's Future

By Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin

Arkansas needs lawsuit reform to compete economically and increase access to health care. As we work to grow our communities, we are burdened by the threat of frivolous lawsuits and the hidden costs of an out-of-date legal system that unfairly target job creators and penalize the doctors that care for our loved ones. We are the only state in our region without lawsuit reform, but in November we can change that. That’s why I am supporting lawsuit reform and Issue 1.

Arkansans are the best workers in the world and can compete with anyone. For too long, however, harmful, misguided policies have burdened us. Despite these obstacles Arkansans have excelled. Just think what we could do with lower taxes, reasonable regulations, more educational choice and a leaner state government. These are the ingredients for growth and prosperity. That’s why I favor bold reform and am working with Gov. Hutchinson to transform a state government that taxes and spends too much. Arkansans are growing jobs and competing like never before, but the missing ingredient of lawsuit reform holds us back.

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Up Front- The Chance for Change

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Shannon Newton
President, ATA

I am not much of a come-what-may person. Laissez faire is not part of my vocabulary, and not because I don’t speak French. It’s not part of my vocabulary because I’m just not the type of person who is comfortable when things are out of my control.  I prefer not to leave things to chance.

And yet, there are things in life you can’t control. I don’t like it, but I accept it. As often as tragedy can be prevented, it can’t.

In May, a jury in Houston, Tex., awarded a nearly $90 million judgment against Werner Enterprises after a pickup truck travelling I-20 lost control in freezing rain conditions, left the lane, crossed through the median and into the path of a Werner truck, travelling the opposite direction.

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The Last Word

Free, but fair trade

By Shannon Everett

Over the last two years, the current administration has really started to challenge the trade policies that have been constructed over the last three decades. The benefit that we have today is an ability to measure the results of these trade agreements against the assumptions that were made when they were passed. Two key beliefs that were held by the architects of the North American Free Trade Agreement were that there would be a trade surplus and increased living standards for the partner countries.  It is very important to understand these assumptions and why they are flawed.

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2018 Arkansas Trucking Championship

tdc

 

Truck Driving Championship Winners   Technician Championship Winners

ATA would like to thank all the volunteers, sponsors, vendors, drivers, technicians, and fans that helped to make the 2018 Arkansas Trucking Championship the biggest to date!

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Up Front- Meeting of the Minds

SHANNON NEWTON 2

Shannon Newton
President, ATA

Before Edison commercialized the light bulb, illumination has been a metaphor for how innovation lights up the dark. Scans of our brain show neurons literally “lighting up” the screen when we think and consider ideas.

We have this image of an isolated genius, hunched over his desk, where a glowing bulb flickers above his head in a dim, empty room as he composes, paints, or invents some masterpiece. Even Pablo Picasso, one of the greatest artists of the 21st century said, “Without solitude, no serious work is possible.”

But science suggests that no serious work would be possible without socializing either, that our brains are made for relationships and innovation is just a by-product of what we really use our minds for—community.

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The Last Word

Listen, Act, Respond: Three Steps to Improving Driver Retention

By Max Farrell

We’re all reading the same things: driver shortages, driver turnover, a fire-hot freight market, etc.

Now more than ever, trucking executives are wanting to take advantage of the business opportunities provided by the industry. But there’s a roadblock: it’s tough to find and keep truck drivers.

For too long trucking companies have focused strictly on recruiting. But with recruiting metrics favoring the advertiser and not the trucking company, driver retention is being revisited.

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Contact Us

Arkansas Trucking Association
PO Box 3476 (72203)
1401 West Capitol Ave.
Suite 185
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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