Arkansas Trucking Association

You are here: Home Article Archive

The Last Word

An Honorable Profession

By Kenneth Calhoun, Guest Writer

For years, we’ve been dealing with the very real crisis of the truck driver shortage. The American Trucking Associations reports that freight volumes grow year-over-year, but the industry is still many drivers short of supporting that growth. In addition, driver turnover is up 11 percent this year. And yet, freight companies are not just missing men and women behind the wheels of trucks. There is another crisis we are facing in terms of manpower: a technician shortage, the men and women under the hoods and hovering over motherboards of increasingly complex freight machines. The whole chain is affected as demand grows, but manpower stays the same.

In terms of supporting the fleet that moves our nation, we have only the lowest capacity to keep the system running. Wait times at service locations are at record lengths. Staffing fleet maintenance facilities has become a constant challenge. Asset utilization is suffering, and it is harder each day for the fleet operator to deliver the service their customer demands.

So what gives? Aside from the exponential growth of complexity in the vehicles, near record delivery of new vehicles and growing demand for delivery of raw materials and finished goods, why are the wheels coming off?

Continue...

Up Front-They Like Us. They Really Like Us.

shannonnewton2

Shannon Newton
President, ATA

As an industry, we talk a lot about image. We worry about public opinion.

It’s only natural. After all, who doesn’t want to be loved?

While image is not everything, it certainly has an impact, from driver and industry recruitment to regulatory, legislative and public policy actions.

I think most of us think that the trucking industry’s image needs some improvement.

I wonder, in the absence of any real data, why we make this assumption.

Are we giving too much power to a vocal minority that may be driving the discussion? Is it the high profile, typically negative and misunderstood media coverage? Have we become so defensive about what we imagine to be our industry’s image to be that we have come to accept it as fact?

Continue...

The Last Word

Industry Communications Demand More Creativity

By Tom Ricciardone, Guest Writer

A truck driver’s day begins with the end in mind.

 Safety first. Safety always. There can be no compromise.

 Where what it takes is driven by what’s at stake: Dedication, passion, commitment—to upholding the highest standards of excellence.

 Where hard work and working hard are the price of entry. And professional pride is personal.

 Where preparation and attention to every detail are never in question. All day. Every day. No matter where. On and off the road.

 Each day the road ahead is filled with challenges. Unforeseen risks. From anywhere. At anytime.

 For the professional truck driver, for the business that keeps America moving, their business is safety.

Continue...

Up Front- What we do. Why we do it.

shannonnewton2

Shannon Newton
President, ATA

I’ve worked for the Arkansas Trucking Association for over a decade now. You would think I’d have a handy elevator pitch that succinctly conveys the essence of what it is we do.

Yet, I don’t. Not one I’m completely satisfied with anyway.

Sure, I can recite the mission statement. Rooted in our core value of service to our membership, it adequately states our primary objective to protect, promote and inform on our member’s behalf.

But the mission statement alone doesn’t explain how or why. It doesn’t capture the power—power that delivers meaningful and far-reaching impact through our association and the industry in Arkansas.

Whether issues of public interest, advancing our image, or addressing an arcane, stealth regulatory change—the power of association can make the difference.

Continue...

The Last Word

What's in a Name?

By Greg Jones, Guest Writer

So, is that driver your employee? Or maybe an independent contractor? And what’s the big deal anyways?

Well, it might not be a big deal in some respects. But if facing exposure for hourly wages, unemployment insurance taxes, and company benefits is critical to your company, then the “employee”/ “independent contractor” distinction is a big deal.

Unfortunately, in our industry the determination of driver status remains a rather murky and treacherous area. And that lack of legal predictability can serve as the wellspring for costly litigation, as exemplified by two Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decisions issued Aug. 27, 2014. Both cases pitted FedEx Ground against FedEx delivery drivers in California and Oregon. The core issue was whether those drivers would be characterized as “employees” versus “independent contractors” under California and Oregon laws. If deemed to be “employees” (rather than “independent contractors” as their operating agreements with FedEx described them), then FedEx faced wide-ranging exposure for unpaid wages and company benefits.

Continue...

Arkansas Trucking Championship Honors Commitment to Safety

Up Front- Eager to Serve

shannonnewton2

Shannon Newton
President, ATA

My career in the trucking industry began with a successful flatbed carrier based in North Little Rock. I was 23, a recent UCA graduate and this was my first “real job.” I was, to say the least, eager; eager to prove valuable, to contribute to something greater, to be treated (finally) like an adult and to wear my new, grown-up clothes. On arrival I was issued a regulation cubicle and a photo ID. I had arrived.

A few months later a memo informed all employees that we would have “special guests” the following day. We were reminded to have our workspace neat and to adhere to the professional dress code. I had no idea who these visitors were, but I got the message loud and clear; they were valued by my employer.

Continue...

The Last Word

Not Backing Down: The Fight for Highway Funding

By Philip Byrd, Guest Writer

Congestion and gridlock are, unfortunately, a way of life for us in the trucking industry. Traffic delays add costs, waste fuel and time and generally make the job of delivering America’s goods challenging.

Gridlock and congestion have also seized up our government in Washington – delaying critical actions that could make the job of delivering America’s good easier.

First, in June the Senate appeared poised to make our highways safer by easing the restrictions on the use of the hours-of-service restart. The Senate Appropriations Committee – by a bipartisan 21-9 vote – adopted language proposed by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) that would have lifted the restriction on using the restart more than once a week and the requirement that the restart include two periods between 1 and 5 a.m. for a year while the impact on safety were studied.

Continue...

Arkansas Trucking Association Announces New President

Shannon Newton, Selected to Lead Industry Group

The Board of Directors of the Arkansas Trucking Association (ATA) is pleased to announce the appointment of Shannon Newton as President.

Shannon has been with the ATA since 2003 and has served as vice president since 2008.  She succeeds Lane Kidd who resigned earlier this year. Newton will assume her duties immediately.

 "When we began our search for a new president, we knew that an experienced leader with deep industry knowledge and a broad skill set was exactly what we needed," stated Craig Harper, ATA Chairman of the Board and EVP/COO of J.B. Hunt Transport, Inc. “Shannon is a dynamic leader and extremely knowledgeable on the complex issues faced by our members. The board was unanimous in this appointment. She became the clear choice to lead the Arkansas Trucking Association forward.”

 “I am honored and humbled to have been chosen to lead the ATA,” said Ms. Newton. “The Arkansas trucking industry is a recognized national leader. My years with the association, working on behalf of this great industry, the member companies and the thousands of dedicated, professional men and women, in the cab and out, have been so rewarding. I welcome the opportunity as president to continue to work with the ATA’s extraordinary and dedicated staff and with these extraordinary members to help drive our industry’s growth.” 

Continue...

Up Front - The Year of the Driver

Gary Salisbury headshot

Gary Salisbury
Chairman & CEO, Fikes Truck Line
Chairman, Arkansas Trucking Association

Over the past several years it seems like all we have talked about, looked at, pointed at and cussed about has been regulations and the re-regulation of our industry.  From CSA and electronic logos to EPA standards and the California Air Resource Board, just to name the big ones.  If only we didn't have all o these rules and regulations we could make some money. Oh, and don't forget those high fuel prices.

But guess what? We have taken our eye off of the real solution to our problems.  It all goes back to the Golden Rule of trucking, at least according to my uncle who drove and retired from Yellow Freight: "The driver, he will either make ya or break ya."

Continue...

The Last Word

Strength in Numbers

By Mitchell Lowe, Guest Writer

Most Americans have heard of political action committees, or PACs, but couldn’t tell you the first thing about them—except that they’re evil. Their malicious image is largely the result of negative press and the wide- spread demonization of special interest groups in the political process.

The fact is PACs, in one form or another, have been around since the advent of free elections…and they’re here to stay. Simply put, PACs are the joining together of individuals with common interests to achieve a goal. Today PACs should be components of the overall legislative and political strategy of any entity (company, trade association, etc.) that finds itself subject to the whims of a regulatory body.

Continue...

The Last Word

Eyes Wide Open: The Big Rig Dilemma

By Tom Ricciardone, Guest Writer

On February 5, the day after an icy, wintry mix hit Central Arkansas, the front page of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette featured a four-column wide photo of an over-turned tractor-trailer. The bold type headline: “Rig Flips on I-30 Exit Ramp.”

Just days later, after another blast of weather, Sunday’s Page 1 headline read: “Woman Missing After Leap Into River to Avoid Hit By Rig.”

Imagine, with no advance warning, you have five minutes to address a room full of colleagues from throughout the state. Your task is to present a short bullet-point wish list for “marketing” the Arkansas trucking industry within the state and beyond.

As an industry insider, with a unique vantage point, what would you tell them?

This brief column can only scratch the surface, highlight a few “wish-list” items that might resonate along with some essential points of context to consider.

Continue...

Up Front - Good Things Come to Those Who Change

lane-kidd-2013

From The President's Desk

Business owners—trucking and otherwise—have a hard time seeing the forest for the trees. In the big picture, things are going great. Business is booming; there was a surge of Class 8 truck orders this fall. But company owners don't like to brag about how we'll they're doing. And in trucking, we tend to focus on those barriers that might keep the industry from doing better – like driver shortages, or restrictive hours-of-service rules. That's curious to folks not in trucking. For example, a friend of mine, successful in his own industry, listened as I described those two issues as being restrictive on productivity.

More From Lane Kidd, President, ATA

Up Front - The Power of Association Continues

lane-kidd-2013

From The President's Desk

 

The ‘power of association’ is a phrase we often use. The phrase is perfect in the way it describes how the Arkansas Trucking Association (ATA) has consistently performed well for its’ member companies. Simply put, the power of association is about leveraging the collective strengths of individual companies. Conversely, the power of association describes the benefits that accrue to individual companies from the collective knowledge of the whole.

More From Lane Kidd, President, ATA

The Last Word

What Driver Shortage?

By Steve Banker Guest Writer

In the latest State of Logistics Report, it is reported that the trucking industry is currently short by about 30,000 drivers. Logistics professionals are frequently warned by trucking trade associations and big carriers about how CSA regulations have reduced the driver pool, and how Hours of Service will reduce driver productivity by perhaps 8 percent on average.

Read More

The Last Word

Who’s Winning the Political Perception Game?

By Mitchell Lowe, Guest Writer

While it’s difficult to identify any political winners in the aftermath of last month’s partial federal government shutdown, it’s not difficult to deduce that U.S. Senator Mark Pryor likely benefits the most from the fact that it occurred more than a year prior to Election Day 2014. Several recently released surveys show that Arkansans place most of the blame for the shutdown on President Barack Obama and the Democrats. One such poll, the 15th annual Arkansas Poll, conducted by the University of Arkansas from October 10-17, reveals that 39 percent of likely voters blamed the President and his party for the shutdown, while 27 percent placed blame with Republicans in Congress.

Continue...

Arkansas' Trucking Industry: At the heart of it all

Trucking Companies Offer Best Barometer

 

Video courtesy of TalkBusiness Arkansas

Up Front - HOS Fatigue

From The President's Desk

Much has been written about the new hours-of-service rules. Not many people in the industry are happy and even fewer know what to do about this seemingly endless cycle of change in the number of hours a commercial truck driver may work. Let's take the issue down to its basics. Because that's where the problem and the solutions can be found.

Not long after the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) was created, the agency began looking at ways to reduce the number of fatalities involving big trucks. That is essentially the agency's only charge.
The hours-of-service rules, or HOS, regulate the number of hours a truck driver may operate his vehicle in a week. So, naturally, those HOS rules became the cornerstone for the FMCSA in figuring out how to reduce accidents. The logical observation was (and is) that if you can reduce the number of hours, or improve the rest times, you can reduce driver fatigue, and if you can reduce driver fatigue, you can reduce the number of accidents.There were other factors that bolstered that view. A casual observer will see that a truck driver can drive as many as 11 hours with a brief break and work about 60 hours in a week. Most wage earners put in 40 hours a week. If asked if they want to drive a truck, most folks would pass on the job right there.

More From Lane Kidd, President, ATA

Up Front - A Tragic Contradiction

From the President's Desk

Three years ago a young man walked into a trucking company and applied for a job as a truck driver. The application process went well. So the company offered him a job—subject to passing a urinalysis—the federally mandated drug and alcohol exam that helps make sure we keep drug abusers from operating our tractor trailers.

As a matter of corporate policy, the company also required the applicant to pass a second drug exam—by removing a small half-inch snippet of hair and having it tested as well. You see, a urine test can identify drugs in your system over the last few days. Hair can identify drug use over the last few months. It's the preferred method in corporations where people are employed in high security or safety sensitive occupations. Although he passed the urinalysis, the hair test revealed he was a heavy cocaine user. So the trucking company sent him on his way.

More From Lane Kidd, President, ATA

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
You are here: Home Article Archive