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ATRI Research Finds Industry's Operational Costs on the Rise Again


The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) released the findings of its 2015 update to An Analysis of the Operational Costs of Trucking. This annual research documents and analyzes trucking costs from 2008 through 2014 providing motor carriers with a high level benchmarking tool, and government agencies with a baseline for future transportation infrastructure improvement analyses.

The average marginal cost per mile in 2014 was $1.70, an increase from the $1.68 found in 2013. Despite falling fuel prices, the rise in average operating costs in 2014 is attributed to an increase in equipment purchases, as well as driver wage increases driven by the ongoing driver shortage and the need to retain the industry’s most experienced professional drivers.

Since its original publication in 2008, ATRI has received nearly 10,000 requests for its Operational Costs of Trucking report, which continues to be among the most popular of ATRI’s research studies. In addition to average costs per mile, ATRI’s report documents average costs per hour, cost breakouts by industry sector, and operating cost comparisons by region of operations.

See full report at


Driver Coercion Carries Large Fines


The Department of Transportation published a final rule on driver coercion that will fine carriers, brokers, shippers and others for pressuring truck drivers to operate outside of federal safety regulations.

The rule goes into effect Jan. 29 and enacts fines up to $16,000 for any carrier, broker, shipper, receiver or anyone else in the supply chain who attempts to force drivers to operate their vehicles when it would violate federal rules to do so, such as when a driver is out of hours.

The rule defines coercion as: “A threat by a motor carrier, shipper, receiver or transportation intermediary, or their respective agents…to withhold business, employment or work opportunities from or to take or permit any adverse employment action against a driver in order to induce” the trucker to drive “under conditions which the driver stated would require him or her to violate one or more” FMCSA regulations.

The rule also requires drivers to report instances of coercion to FMCSA for a follow-up investigation. Drivers must file their complaints with the agency within 90 days of the occurrence of any alleged coercion acts and must provide FMCSA with any evidence they may have, such as messages or recorded phone conversations.

Walmart Testing Drones for Deliveries


Walmart applied to for permission to test drones for home delivery, curbside pickup and checking warehouse inventories, a sign it plans to go head-to-head with Amazon in using drones to fill and deliver online orders.

The world's largest retailer by revenue has been conducting indoor tests of small unmanned aircraft systems – the term regulators use for drones - and is now seeking to test the machines outdoors.

In addition to having drones take inventory of trailers outside its warehouses and perform other tasks aimed at making its distribution system more efficient, Walmart is asking the Federal Aviation Administration for permission to research drone use in "deliveries to customers at Walmart facilities, as well as to consumer homes," according to a copy of the application reviewed by Reuters.

The move comes as Amazon, Google and other companies test drones in the expectation that the FAA will soon establish rules for their widespread commercial use. FAA Deputy Administrator Michael Whitaker said in June that the agency expected to finalize regulations within the next 12 months, faster than previously planned. Commercial drone use is currently illegal, though companies can apply for exemptions.

Wal-Mart spokesman Dan Toporek said, "Drones have a lot of potential to further connect our vast network of stores, distribution centers, fulfillment centers and transportation fleet," he said. "There is a Walmart within five miles of 70 percent of the U.S. population, which creates some unique and interesting possibilities for serving customers with drones."

Derek Leathers Appointed to ATRI Board of Directors


Werner Enterprises President and Chief Operating Officer Derek J. Leathers has been appointed to the Board of Directors of the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI). 

Leathers has worked in the transportation and logistics industry for more than 20 years.  Throughout his tenure at Werner, he has held integral roles in many facets of the organization. 

"We are very pleased to have Derek join the ATRI Board," said ATRI Chairwoman Judy McReynolds, president and CEO of ArcBest Corporation.  "His vast industry experience and expertise will be of great value to our Board as we lead the Institute's work to advance the trucking industry's safety and productivity."

ABF Freight driver receives national trucking industry award


Ralph Garcia, a driver for Fort Smith-based ABF Freight System, has received the Mike Russell Trucking Image award from the American Trucking Associations’, one of the top honors in the national trucking sector.

The Mike Russell Trucking Image Award celebrates companies, organizations, and individuals who creatively generate positive awareness of the trucking industry.

Garcia, began his career as a professional truck driver more than 37 years ago and has accumulated more than 3.5 million accident-free miles. He was nominated by his company, ABF Freight, for the award and has been with the company for the last 23 years.

“Ralph has been an exceptional voice for the trucking industry for decades and we are all very thankful for the work he has done to improve the industry’s image,” ATA President and CEO Bill Graves noted in a statement. “Ralph’s nationwide work as an America’s Road Team Captain has made a tremendous impact on highway safety and he has been an example of professionalism throughout his career.”  

In his role as an America’s Road Team Captain, Garcia spends time each month speaking to schools, community groups, news media, legislators and industry and government officials about highway safety and the role of the trucking industry. He was also recently featured by Healthy Trucker as an advocate for spreading wellness messages to other professional truck drivers and industry employees.

Convoy Brings Uber to Trucking

Convoy, a Seattle-based startup, is bringing the Uber model of connecting drivers and customers with mobile technology to the $749 billion market for hauling freight and merchandise.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos,'s Marc Benioff and eBay founder Pierre Omidyar are among the investors backing Convoy, along with Uber co-founder Garrett Camp.

Convoy, which shippers can use to request a truck, get instant price quotes and track drivers throughout pickup and delivery, has so far fundraised $2.5 million. The startup mainly focuses on shorthaul trucking, usually one-day trips between companies. "Trucking is probably the largest outdated industry in the country," said founder Dan Lewis, who left Amazon in February to start his own company.

Convoy has been operating since April of this year, serving customers in Washington state. Convoy has almost 100 trucks from pre-approved vendors in Convoy's network, according to Lewis. Their aim is to compete with brokers who handle requests from shippers, negotiate pricing and arrange for trucks to haul freight. Convoy's software lets customers specify what kind of truck they need and select accessories such as a tarp, a lift gate or protective gear. Pricing is determined by an algorithm, and the software also figures out which trucker is best-located and able to fill the job.

Convoy plans to expand to other areas in the next year.

Drones to Take on Infrastructure Work

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English engineers at the University of Leeds recently won 4.2 million pound grant (about $6.5 million USD) from the U.K.’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council to create a national infrastructure for “self-repairing cities,” where small robots can identify and repair everything from potholes to streetlights to utility pipes.

The team, led by civil engineer Phil Purnell and including researchers from University College London and the Universities of Birmingham and Southampton, is working on three drone designs. One set of robots will be responsible for “perch and repair,” meaning they will perch, like birds, on tall structures and make small repairs to things like streetlights. The “perceive and patch” robots will not only automatically inspect, diagnose, and repair potholes in the road, but will also prevent future ones from forming. And “fire and forget” drones will monitor and repair utility pipes as needed.

“Most of what we’re proposing is for the drones to do very simple and mundane tasks,” Purnell says. “When you look at major infrastructure failures—things like potholes or failures in pipe lines—they’re often caused by very small, millimeter-scale defects. And if those were caught early by an automated system, then the larger failures and inconveniences wouldn’t occur.”

As the researchers expected, not everyone is excited about the potential of drones. “If you look at the British press, some of the comments you can see are, ‘Thanks very much for taking our jobs,’ and that’s a valid point of view,” says Purnell. “We have a large workforce in the infrastructure-maintenance industry, and we should look at what will be the effect of work patterns, distribution of wealth and society, equality of access to the infrastructure. This is something we feel very strongly about.”

Purnell says his team will be ready to test the robots within the next year.

Millions in TIGER Grants Awarded to Transportation Projects

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced that the Department of Transportation will provide $500 million for 39 transportation projects in 34 states from its TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) 2015 program. Rural areas received 43% of the project awards, more than any previous year.


Read more: Millions in TIGER Grants Awarded to Transportation Projects

ATRI Releases Impact of Non-preventable Crashes


The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) released its latest CSA research, Assessing the Impact of Non-Preventable Crashes on CSA ScoresATRI’s research confirms the need for reforms that would direct the resources of the Agency and highway enforcement to the carriers that need it. 

In this analysis, ATRI investigated the impact that excluding non-preventable crashes would have on motor carrier CSA scores.  The analysis used carrier crash records, mapped to the FMCSA's Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS) database, to identify a small and non-controversial subset of non-preventable crashes with the following causes:

  • Animal collision
  • Other vehicle hits legally parked truck
  • Other vehicle ran a stop light / sign and hit a truck
  • The driver of the other vehicle was DUI
  • Truck-assisted suicide

The ATRI analysis then removed these crashes and "recalculated" the Crash Indicator BASIC measure.  Among the more than one dozen carriers in ATRI's analysis, the Crash Indicator BASIC decreased nearly 15 percent once the non-preventable crash subset was removed.

"The trucking industry has identified a number of flaws in FMCSA's calculation of carrier safety performance through the CSA BASICs and perhaps none is more egregious than the inclusion of non-preventable crashes in the Crash Indicator BASIC.  ATRI's latest analysis, using a very conservative definition of non-preventable crashes, demonstrates just how skewed FMCSA's BASIC calculations can be," said Scott Mugno, a member of ATRI's Research Advisory Committee as well as Vice President of Safety and Maintenance for FedEx Ground.

ATRI estimates non-preventable crash costs exceed $68 million for the 15 carriers in the analysis.

Arkansas SMC Recognized for Safety Programs

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The Arkansas Trucking Association Safety Management Council (SMC) has been awarded by the American Trucking Associations with Summa Cum Laude status for exceptional excellent safety programs and dedication to saving lives. The SMC was recognized for the highest safety council award by the 2015 State Association Recognition Program at the annual Safety, Security and Human Resources National Conference & Exhibition in Little Rock, Ark.

The Arkansas Safety Management Council has been honored with this award for more than decade.

40 Under 40 Council Welcomes New Members

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The Arkansas Trucking Association 40 Under 40 Council names four new council members from this fall.

The Council was established in 2009 to identify and cultivate new, young executives in member companies and acclimate them to the intricacies of the trucking world as well as the dynamics of the association.

Grant Sykes, market support manager at ABF Freight; Mallory Millican, sr. manager process development and compliance at ABF Freight; Brad Heisterkamp, vice president of operations at Transco Lines, Inc. and Adren Hillenburg, operations manager at Fed Ex Freight join a select group of Arkansas-based transportation professionals under the age of 40. Collectively, the council represents 17 companies and various expertise, including safety, operations, pricing, recruitment, truckload and less than truckload.

DOT to Change Stance on Self-Driving Cars

The Department of Transportation’s (DOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will be updating the DOT’s policy on self-driving cars.

The department’s previous statement, published in May 2013, says cars should be limited to testing and not "authorized for use by members of the public for general driving purposes."

In light of recent progress in autonomous vehicle technology, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx he knows critics thought DOT played it too safe in its 2013 stance.

Foxx told reporters, "I think what you're sensing from me is a belief that if done well, we will set the ground rules for the next 20 or 30 years in transportation by figuring out as early as we can how best to integrate this technology into our roadways."

"I want the posture of our agency to be obviously vigilant on the safety front, but I don't want our agency to be skittish about innovations that are out there," Foxx said.

"We're on the cusp of a massive transformation in transportation. ...And that's exciting on some levels, but it's also something that requires a lot of thought on the part of our agency in terms of how to create the safest possible environment for that technology and what some of the ground rules ought to be."

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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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