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

dollars and sense

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

dollars and sense

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

dollars and sense

Mythbusting and Life Saving on the Essentiality of Open Roads

Arkansas Trucking hwy history image

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

dollars and sense

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

SHANNON NEWTON 2

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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Up Front- Repeating History

SHANNON NEWTON 2

Shannon Newton
President, ATA

In December 1982, Pres. Ronald Reagan faced a problem that feels eerily familiar. Four thousand miles of the not-yet complete interstate system was in need of resurfacing and 23,000 bridges in need of repair. The gas tax, which had been levied to fund the interstate system, had not been increased since three years before construction began. And it no longer covered expenses.

In the Transportation Assistance Act of 1982, for the first time in 23 years, Congress more than doubled the gas tax, raising it five cents to a total of 9 cents a gallon. The bill authorized $71 billion for highway construction, road repairs and mass transit.

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The Last Word

Game On

By Al Heringer, IV

Almost 25 years ago, my family expanded our business offerings to include a petroleum-hauling common carrier operation under the name of Star Transportation. After I graduated from college, I joined the business which at the time had only six trucks. Running a trucking company hadn’t been part of the plan I had for myself. Like most people who play high school and college sports, I thought I was headed to the pros – specifically, the NFL. But I found my path redirected in ways I couldn’t have imagined when I hung up my cleats for the last time.

I have a similar feeling when I think of how differently the trucking industry looks a quarter-century later.

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Up Front- Remembering the Empty Seats

SHANNON NEWTON 2

Shannon Newton
President, ATA

This time of year, there’s a lot of pressure to spend weeks (and your whole paycheck) shopping for and wrapping holiday gifts for your family, but in the minutes after all the presents are opened, bellies full of chocolate oranges and surrounded by a small mountain of crumpled reindeer paper and ribbon, we can forget that the most expensive gift is the one we sometimes take for granted—living in a free country.

For all the reasons to love the holidays—presents, parties, your kids in matching pajamas on Christmas morning—the expectation to make merry and have an abundance of joy is not always the reality for the families who have an empty seat at the dinner table. The songs tell us to trim up the tree and deck the halls, but there’s a melancholy about the season for anyone remembering loved ones who have laid down their lives for us to freely celebrate whatever holidays we want.

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The Last Word

The Road to Arkansas Tort Reform

By Carl Vogelpohl

In 2018, Arkansas voters have the opportunity to enact meaningful civil justice “tort” reform.  A coalition representing a diverse group of Arkansans, including the Arkansas Trucking Association, has banded together to take a stand against out-of-control trial lawyers.  This coalition wants to limit the financial windfall reaped by trial lawyers who use the threat of unreasonable “nuclear verdicts” to unfairly harm truckers, small business owners, farmers, doctors and job creators in Arkansas. 

Studies show that the threat of unlimited verdicts hurts not just jobs in the trucking industry but all small businesses.  The Institute for Legal Reform notes that over three-quarters of small businesses fear they will be the target of unjustifiable lawsuits.  And The Wall Street Journal has noted that some insurers have dropped coverage in the past few years for certain types of fleets. And the rates for the coverage that has remained have skyrocketed. 

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Up Front- Do Not Delay

SHANNON NEWTON 2

Shannon Newton
President, ATA

This year has been marked with reflection over the past 85 years since the Shippers and Carriers Association of Arkansas was formed in 1932. While it might be easy to talk about how the Association took tough stances on issues that improved conditions for Arkansas carriers, it’s much harder to be the association that takes those tough positions and persuades others to come along. Sometimes, we’ve gotten it right and led the change, and other times, like when the Association opposed deregulation, we followed the change and learned to adapt.

On every issue ATA tackles, we want to be on the right side of history.  The questions we always ask are these: Does this improve safety? Does this make carriers more efficient, more profitable or more risk averse? Does this protect our most valuable asset—professional drivers?

When the answers are yes, we don’t hesitate to stand out front, lead the discussion and speak to our legislators and other decision makers. Fortunately, on ELDs, we have been heard by those in Washington.

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The Last Word

The Road to Recovery

By Tracy Rosser

Editor’s Note: As reports continue to come in that Puerto Ricans are without enough water, food, health care and electricity almost a month after Hurricane Maria tore through the island and residents of Houston and Florida are still expecting months of cleanup, the wheels of trucks have not stopped rolling with trailers full of supplies for relief and rebuilding. Walmart especially has been a leader in delivering aid in the recovery efforts. ATA would like to thank every company who reached out to help our fellow Americans despite logistics challenges, pouring money, manpower, and equipment everywhere the waters rose. We are proud to represent an industry that carries hope into hurting communities.

When Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria made landfall in August and September of this year, they impacted millions of people in their path, destroying homes, knocking out power and flooding towns as they crawled across the Caribbean, Gulf and Atlantic coasts – forever changing the lives of those who live and work in these areas.

Our associates responded to these emergencies with a level of outstanding service that is simply admirable. Throughout Walmart’s 55-year history, we’ve been known for our low prices and for revolutionizing the retail industry. We’ve also applied what we’ve learned in serving thousands of communities across America in how we respond to major disasters and helping people when they need it.

One group that helps us step up during disasters is our drivers, who are part of the largest and safest private fleet in the industry. On any typical day across our country, you see our trucks on the road and the hard work of our drivers in action. Their commitment to service is amazing: Together, our drivers travel more than 700 million miles annually to deliver countless loads of merchandise to Walmart and Sam’s Club locations across the nation.

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Up Front- Rays of Light

SHANNON NEWTON 2

Shannon Newton
President, ATA

Last week, around 1:18 pm, people gathered on the sidewalk outside the office, passing around pairs of funny cardboard glasses, to crane their necks back and look skyward for the solar eclipse.

Because Arkansas didn’t lie in the path of totality, only 90% of the sun was covered. Ninety percent sounds like a lot, but unless you had the right lenses, the day wasn’t that much different than any other day. Crescent shadows fell on the pavement, and the light was a little dimmer than any other sunny afternoon, like a storm was rolling in but without a cloud in the sky.

Even just ten percent of the sun’s light still made for a mostly bright, hot, summer day.

For our cover story this issue, I got to spend an inspiring morning with Laura Lane, the president of global public affairs at UPS.  She talked about her life and her stance on policies important to the industry, but what I walked away from that meeting with was a sense of hopefulness, that every challenge has a silver lining if you are wearing the right lenses.

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The Last Word

Slow Down Speed Limit Increases

By Matt Hart

On Aug. 8, a new law went into effect in Arkansas, allowing the Department of Transportation to raise the speed limit on some major highways to 75 mph. So far, no speed limits have actually changed, but engineers are studying the traffic patterns and road designs to determine where and if the speed limits should be raised.

We’ve been asking ‘how fast can we go?’ on highways all around the country. Questions asked less often: Is it safe? Is it worth it? How do you know?

While Arkansas may choose not to go any faster on any of its 16,432 highway miles, DOT is slowing down to ask the right questions.

In my state, Illinois, I’ve seen this speed limit debate go on for nearly two decades.  The Illinois Trucking Association (ITA) fought for years for uniform speed limits after enduring many years where the speed limit was 55 for trucks and 65 for cars.  Legislation initiated by our Association in 2011 finally closed that speed limit differential to 65 mph for all vehicles, with a couple of exceptions near Chicago.

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Up Front- Sisyphean Task

SHANNON NEWTON ATA PRESIDENT

Shannon Newton
President, ATA

When I sit down to write this column, I usually pick up my pom-poms and megaphone, taking on the role of industry cheerleader. I let you know where we are in the game, if we are chanting “D-E-F-E-N-S-E!” or “S-C-O-R-E!”

Usually, I’ve got good news. Our bill was passed. We got through to our legislators or the public. We did a good deed. We’ve set new goals. We celebrated a new milestone. We launched a new program.

This time, instead of good news, I’ve got perspective. For all the times fighting for the industry feels like political football, it isn’t the kind of game where the buzzer sounds, the ice chest is upended and we all go home.

The work is never really over, and I am reminded of that each time highway funding gets pushed further down on the agenda or when I open my inbox to misinformation about the industry and what we contribute.

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The Last Word

Self-Driving Prophecy

By David O'Neal CDS

Some headlines predict “Robot trucks could replace 2 million drivers by 2030;” some titles ask “Trucks with no drivers?” Others just report our anxieties “From cowboys to robots: truckers wary of autonomous rigs.”

Truckloads of ink and more than a few bytes of data have been (and will continue to be) generated on the subject of how autonomous technology will affect the role of truck driver. Is there a signal in all this noise?

Here is what we know: (1) The trucking industry continues to deal with a shortage of qualified drivers; (2) Technology doesn’t just evolve, it often appears to make exponential leaps forward; (3) Much of the necessary technology already exists and is in use across all types of vehicles; and (4) Up to 90% of all vehicle crashes are the result of human error.

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2017 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 2017 Arkansas Trucking Championship the biggest to date!

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Up Front- Eighty-five Candles

SHANNON NEWTON ATA PRESIDENT

Shannon Newton
President, ATA

I wish I could put 85 candles on a cake and pass out slices frosted with chocolate and sprinkles to all of you because this is a big deal. As we prepare to celebrate the trucking association’s milestone anniversary, I can’t help but reflect on how amazing it is that our organization has been around for eight and a half decades.

Every day, we read about another industry on the verge of extinction. Progress comes along and renders someone’s job or even an entire industry obsolete. It makes the world better, safer, faster, more inclusive, but at the cost of careers, people who built their livelihood and identity around operating switchboards, mining coal, building shopping malls, delivering milk to neighborhood porches or renting out the latest blockbuster movies.

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The Last Word

The Power of Association

By Butch Rice

Twelve years ago, I received a call asking me to be on the Arkansas Trucking Association’s board of directors. It was one of the proudest moments of my career. I didn’t think anything could top that honor until two years ago when I accepted the baton passed from Craig Harper, COO of J.B. Hunt, as the chairman of the board.

During my time as chairman, I have tried to model the ATA’s mission statement: protect the collective interests of the industry, promote how essential trucks are to every community, and serve the members of the association so we are all better and more profitable than we were the year before.

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Up Front-High Gear

SHANNON NEWTON ATA PRESIDENT

Shannon Newton
President, ATA

The Regular Session of the 91st Arkansas General Assembly convened on January 9, 2017. The following days of the legislative session are some of the busiest days of the year for Arkansas Trucking Association.

All year, we listen to our members’ challenges in the state and identify ways we can address those challenges, and while the wheels of ATA are always moving forward, we tend to swing into high gear when our elected officials come to town.

One of the biggest issues our carrier members are currently facing is the financial uncertainty stemming from litigation following an accident. You may have seen the headlines about “nuclear verdicts” bankrupting small businesses and driving up settlement and insurance costs for even the safest carriers. Right now, there is a real opportunity to improve the legal climate in the state which will enable job growth and economic improvement.

 

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The Last Word

The Trouble with Tolls

By Stephanie Kane

For transportation professionals, 2017 is shaping up to be a year of tolling. President Donald Trump’s infrastructure plan relies on tax credits to entice the private sector to build revenue-needy projects, which would undoubtedly lead to more tolls. It’s great to see the President recognizing the need for investment, but relying on tax credits that spur privatization as the main funding mechanism for any nationwide plan will fail to close the national infrastructure deficit. At the state level, elected officials are pushing for tolling existing interstates in Rhode Island, Indiana and Wisconsin.

The Alliance for Toll-Free Interstates (ATFI) was formed to oppose such tolling efforts and educate the public about the many negative impacts that tolling existing interstates has on our communities and businesses.

 

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Up Front- Tidings of Great News

SHANNON NEWTON ATA PRESIDENT

Shannon Newton
President, ATA

The bad news first: We saw everyone's ugliest side over the last 18 months as candidates fought for competing solutions to problems in the economy, foreign policy, the environment, protecting human rights, but mostly with each other. It is apparent that Americans are still divided on an awful lot.

But the good news is the election and the time for talking about hypothetical policy is over.

And the better news? The list of divisive issues for Americans is long, but infrastructure is not on that list. Pres.-elect Trump has promised to invest $1 trillion into repairing and improving the highways, bridges, railways and airports and to do it ourselves: "Buy American and hire American." And everyone, no matter who you voted for, wants to see if and how he can do it.

Politico's Infrastructure Survey found that 80 percent of registered voters agreed that passing an infrastructure bill should be a "top" or "important priority for the federal government." There's more consensus for the urgency of fixing roads than there was for either candidate because a collapsing bridge doesn't care whose name is on your bumper sticker.

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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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