Transport Pro Launches Freight Tracking Service for Brokers

NASHVILLE, Tenn., Oct. 11, 2018 — Transport Pro, a Web-based TMS provider, unveiled its latest feature today, Load Beacon—a freight tracking service. Transport Pro subscribers can now take advantage of the company’s in-house freight tracking service, seamlessly providing freight visibility in the TMS platform for freight managers and shippers.

While freight tracking is not a new concept, many brokers still struggle with the day-to-day tracking of loads due to drivers resisting downloads of app-based trackers on their phones, and fleet managers not wanting to give out their drivers’ cell phone numbers. The new tracking services offered by Transport Pro reduce the number of interruptive check calls to drivers so they can stay focused on the road.

Load Beacon offers two methods of tracking, one of which is an app-less service. This method works with all types of cell phones. From a modern smartphone to an old flip phone, Load Beacon can triangulate the location of a driver and provide the broker with load location updates. Using this location information, Transport Pro will automatically provide the ETA to pickup or delivery, which is visible directly from the software’s freight operations dashboard. To activate tracking, users simply enter the driver’s cell phone number in Transport Pro, and Load Beacon will request tracking from the driver via SMS.  Once the driver accepts tracking, the service will automatically pull the location updates from the phone while the driver is dispatched under that load.

The second level of service provided by Load Beacon is a direct integration with carrier ELDs. This solution was built for brokers who provide expedited, just-in-time freight services, or high value cargo that needs more frequent location updates, as well as accurate GPS information. Through a mutual data-sharing agreement, brokers can connect with carriers via supported ELDs and other location devices. Transport Pro’s dispatch system will display updated location information for dispatched loads every 15 minutes, significantly reducing the number of check calls required.

Not only does Transport Pro make this implementation painless for its customers by managing every aspect of the integration in house, it also gives brokers and shippers the visibility they demand.  Brokers can provide their customers with up-to-date freight visibility via the Transport Pro web-portal or via EDI connectivity direct to the shipper.

To learn more, or to schedule a demo, please contact a Transport Pro team member at 615-823-1937, or email info@transportpro.net.

About Transport Pro

Transport Pro is a leading transportation management software company providing Web-based technology to trucking companies, third party logistics and brokerages. Transport Pro’s innovative software streamlines daily business operations and offers a number of integrations to maximize workflow.

To read the press release published on DC Velocity, click here.

To read the article published in CCJ, click here.

 

Media Contacts:

Kelly Frederick

615-647-8933

kelly.frederick@transportpro.net

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Transportation Secretary Releases Updated DOT Guidelines for Autonomous Vehicles

Transportation Secretary, Elaine Chao, recently released updated DOT guidelines as they pertain to autonomous vehicles. These new guidelines focus on best practices for both state and local agencies.

Eleanor Lamb, Staff Reporter for Transport Topics, writes:

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao on Oct. 4 unveiled AV 3.0, the agency’s policy update of autonomous vehicle technology guidelines.

Chao delivered remarks on the updated guidance, titled “Preparing for the Future of Transportation: Automated Vehicles 3.0,” at the Department of Transportation headquarters in Washington.

The update, which pertains to trucks, transit systems, cars and trains, highlights six central principles. They indicate that DOT will:

• Prioritize safety.

• Remain technology neutral.

• Modernize regulations.

• Encourage consistent regulations.

• Prepare proactively for automation.

• Protect the freedoms enjoyed by Americans.

“Integrating the autonomous vehicle technology into our transportation system has the potential to increase productivity, facilitate freight movement and create new types of jobs,” Chao said.

Autonomous technology can take a variety of forms, from lane-departure warning systems and automated brakes to truck platooning. Automated technologies have, however, raised public concern over security and privacy; Chao reported that nearly three-fourths of American drivers have expressed fear and anxiety about riding in a self-driving vehicle.

To appease these concerns, Chao said she has met with Silicon Valley innovators to inform the public about the benefits of automation. “While these technologies hold promise, they’ve not yet won public acceptance,” Chao said. “Without public acceptance, the full potential of these technologies will never be realized.”

One of autonomous technology’s most important implications is its potential to improve safety on roadways. Noting that 94% of accidents occur because of human error, Chao said that automated technology holds the potential to save lives.

AV 3.0 outlines best practices for state and local government agencies looking to test and operate autonomous technologies. To support state and local collaboration, the Federal Highway Administration will update the 2009 Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways, which provides standards for road managers to install and maintain traffic control devices on all public routes. In a media call after the event, FHWA acting Administrator Brandye Hendrickson said the updated manual will be “forward-looking.” Chao acknowledged that incorporating automated technologies into the workforce likely will require new training and new roles.

Some freight haulers have been apprehensive about autonomous vehicle technologies because they foster the perception that trucks soon may be driving themselves. While the trucking industry is contending with a lack of drivers — American Trucking Associations this year has reported the shortage at more than 50,000 — Richard Bishop, an automated vehicle industry analyst who serves as chairman of ATA’s Task Force on Automated Driving and Platooning, said it probably will be decades before trucks are driving themselves.

“I think it’ll happen slowly and there will be ways for existing retraining processes to have their effect,” Bishop told Transport Topics.

Chao recognized the fears associated with losing jobs to machines. At the event, she announced a joint initiative among the departments of Labor, Commerce and Health and Human Services to research the implications of automated vehicle technology on the workforce.

“I am extremely concerned about the impact of automated technology on the workforce,” Chao said, adding that the joint effort “will provide information that will help workers prepare for the future.”

DOT’s previous guidance on automated driving systems, AV 2.0, was published in September 2017. Chao has said that AV 2.0 was the most-viewed DOT policy document posted on the agency’s website, garnering more than 125,000 downloads.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration chief Ray Martinez said his agency speaks daily with industry representatives and public sector associations to better understand the impact of automated vehicles on the nation’s freight system.

“We recognize and value the unique perspective of drivers, of operators, of carriers and everyone in this industry,” Martinez said. “FMCSA plans to continue engaging the commercial motor vehicle community. This will continue to be a complex and fascinating undertaking.”

ATA President Chris Spear commended DOT’s willingness to hear from industry experts as the agency unveils — and continues to mold — this framework.

“This is a sound and substantive framework that rightly recognizes commercial vehicles are essential to any serious AV policy. In reaching out to a broad group of stakeholders, the Department should be commended for its thoughtful approach, which will enable an informed decision-making process around new and emerging technologies,” Spear said in a statement.

He added, “Thanks to Secretary Chao’s leadership, this guidance ensures that technological progress will not outpace the formation of key safety policy — and will enable America to maintain our role as world leaders both in innovation and in developing this framework. We look forward to working with the Secretary and FMCSA Administrator Martinez as this initiative rolls forward, and to having trucking’s voice as a vital contributor throughout this process.”

To read this article on Transport Topics, click here.

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13 States Waive Trucking Regulations Due to Hurricane Florence

With Hurricane Florence about to make landfall, drivers need to be aware of several lane reversals. According to a recent article by CCJ Digital, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a regional emergency declaration for 13 states.

Update, Sept. 12, 12 p.m. EDT: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced Wednesday it has added Tennessee and Kentucky to its list of states under the regional emergency declaration, bringing the total to 13 states and Washington, D.C.

Original story follows:

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster on Monday ordered a mandatory evacuation for residents of the South Carolina coast in preparation for Hurricane Florence, which warrants the reversal of several highway lanes. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has also issued a regional emergency declaration for 11 East Coast states and Washington, D.C.

FMCSA’s declaration includes Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York and Delaware, along with D.C. The declaration exempts truck drivers providing direct support of relief efforts related to the hurricane from Parts 390 through 399 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. The declaration is effective immediately and will remain in effect through the duration of the emergency, or through Oct. 10, whichever is less.

To accommodate the evacuees coming from the South Carolina coast, eastbound lanes of I-26 from the I-526 interchange in Charleston to the I-77 interchange near Columbia have been reversed Tuesday afternoon. The video below from the South Carolina Department of Transportation explains the I-26 evacuation route.

Coming from the Myrtle Beach area, U.S. Highway 501 lanes from South Carolina 544 to U.S. 378 will all flow westbound, along with U.S. 501 between South Carolina 22 (the Conway Bypass) and South Carolina 576. This reversal also began at Tuesday.

Finally, for the Beaufort and Hilton Head area, South Carolina DOT officials will be prepared to reverse U.S. 278 and U.S. 21 if traffic conditions warrant.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Hurricane Florence is a Category 4 storm with sustained winds of 130 miles per hour, according to the National Hurricane Center. NHC says a restrengthening of the storm is forecast, and it is expected to be “an extremely dangerous major hurricane through Thursday night.” Florence is forecast to make landfall on the coast of the Carolinas Thursday night, but tropical storm conditions are possible in the region as early as Thursday morning.

Read the article on CCJ by clicking here.

Image from CCJ Digital.

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Parade and Transport Pro Partner to Tackle Carrier Capacity Challenges

We are so excited to announce our partnership with Parade! Below the text of the press release, you will find links to the published press release as well as CCJ’s article about it. Have questions? Give us a call! 615-823-1937

San Francisco, CA; Nashville, TN — August 29, 2018 — Transport Pro, a Web-based TMS company, is excited to announce its partnership with a leading brokerage technology provider, Parade. The combination of Parade’s innovative AI-powered carrier management system and Transport Pro’s digital carrier sourcing platform gives brokers access to cutting-edge automation technology at an affordable price point.

Brokers have thousands of data points around capacity availability streaming into their email inbox each day, and a vast amount of underutilized historical data, location/ELD, and carrier interactions stored in their Transport Pro system. Often, it’s hard for brokers to sort and understand all this data, which results in carrier reps turning to load boards and using their gut to source carriers. Parade’s advanced capacity technology integrates key information from carrier emails, plus information from sources like location, historical load bookings, and historical carrier interactions, providing brokers with visibility into what freight carriers need and when. The Transport Pro carrier sourcing platform then matches that carrier capacity to available freight and sends an automatic email to the qualified in-network carriers. The ability to notify carriers of available freight within minutes helps brokers to strengthen the overall carrier experience, building relationships for the long haul.

“I grew up in a family full of owner-operators and brokers,” said Preet Sivia, Chief Business Officer of Parade. “I understand how important brokerages are in the transportation ecosystem, but up until now, it’s been difficult to use all your data to reuse capacity and increase carrier sales efficiency. With all your location, ELD, email and historical load information in your TMS, this partnership will allow Transport Pro users to understand and predict their carriers’ capacity with the end goal of increasing carrier re-utilization and loads booked per rep.”

Transport Pro users have the advantage of leveraging Parade’s artificial intelligence technologies to tap often ignored available capacity. With all of the daily distractions that take place in an office, it’s easy for load opportunities to go unnoticed. This automation saves time, increases efficiency and helps brokers remain competitive in the marketplace.

“Brokers are competing with large tech companies pushing digital freight brokerage, and the only way to stay in the game is to invest in technology,” says Kenneth Kloeppel, CEO of Transport Pro. “Most of the time this comes at a price far out of reach for most brokerages. When you look at the new technology being provided by Parade and Transport Pro, a brokerage can become a powerful service provider to its customers and partner carriers.”

The Parade integration is currently available for Transport Pro customers.

About Parade

Parade is a software company producing big data and artificial intelligence solutions for transportation companies. Parade extracts business intelligence from real-time email, location information and historical load data to optimize communication, decision-making, and freight opportunities.

About Transport Pro

Transport Pro is a leading transportation management software company providing Web-based technology to trucking companies, third party logistics and brokerages. Transport Pro’s innovative software streamlines daily business operations and offers a number of integrations to maximize workflow.

Media Contacts:

Kelly Frederick

kelly.frederick@transportpro.net

615-864-8933

Preet Sivia

sivia@parade.ai

1-855-534-3729

EPA Limits Production of Glider Trucks

According to a recent article in Transport Topics, acting administrator Andrew Wheeler has reversed a decision that would have allowed a proliferation of glider trucks until the end of 2019. Wheeler’s decision came just days after 16 state attorneys general filed requests for review by the US State Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler has reversed a controversial decision made earlier this month that would have allowed the proliferation of glider kit trucks until the end of 2019.

In a July 26 memo to the agency’s enforcement chief, Susan Bodine, Wheeler said a “no-action assurance” order blocking enforcement of the glider kit trucks provision in the 2016 Obama administration’s Phase 2 Greenhouse Gas Heavy Truck Rule is “not in the public interest.”

“The Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance has a general guidance limiting the circumstances under which the agency will consider issuing no-action assurances,” Wheeler wrote. “The 1995 restatement of that policy states that the principles against the issuance of a no-action assurance are at ‘their most compelling in the context of rulemakings.’ OECA guidance is clear that a no-action assurance should be issued only in an ‘extremely unusual’ case when the no-action assurance is necessary to serve the public interest, and only when no other mechanism can adequately address that interest.”

Bodine’s “no-action assurance” memo was dated only a day after then EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt resigned amid a dozen ethics investigations. In November, the agency issued a proposed rule to repeal the Obama-era regulation, questioning the notion that the gliders were big polluters and whether EPA even had the authority to regulate the gliders.

Bodine’s “no-action assurance” memo was dated only a day after then EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt resigned amid a dozen ethics investigations. In November, the agency issued a proposed rule to repeal the Obama-era regulation, questioning the notion that the gliders were big polluters and whether EPA even had the authority to regulate the gliders.

Wheeler’s action came July 26, only days after an environmental coalition and 16 state attorneys general filed separate requests for review by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, claiming that not enforcing the glider provision in the 2016 Phase 2 Heavy Truck Greenhouse Gas rule would allow thousands of the “super polluting” glider trucks on U.S. roadways.

The court quickly issued a temporary stay of the EPA nonenforcement plan while it considers whether to approve or deny the emergency motions filed by environmentalists and the states, which said allowing the production and sale of more than 300 per-manufacturer gliders — “new heavy-duty trucks manufactured with highly polluting, refurbished engines that do not comply with modern emissions standards” — is unlawful.

“This is a huge win for all Americans who care about clean air and human health,” Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund, one of the lawsuit plaintiffs, said in a statement. “These super-polluting diesel freight trucks fill our lungs with a toxic stew of pollution. EPA’s effort to create a loophole allowing more of them onto our roads was irresponsible and dangerous. We hope their decision to withdraw that loophole puts a firm and final end to this serious threat to our families’ health.”

Glen Kedzie, energy and environmental counsel for American Trucking Associations, told Transport Topics, EPA’s reversal of its prior decision to not enforceglider vehicle provision under the final Phase 2 rule was a welcome announcement, which reaffirms the agency’s legal authority and responsibility to the public to close the dangerous emissions loophole created by a small special interest group of manufacturers. We will await EPA’s next steps as this issue continues to evolve.”

In their emergency motion, the environmentalists said the trucks are “poised to spend their lifetimes emitting many times more smog-forming nitrogen oxides, lung-damaging particulate matter and cancer-causing toxics than lawfully built heavy-duty trucks. Relief is urgently needed from EPA’s unlawful action in order to avert substantial and irreparable public-health consequences.”

The attorneys general in their court brief said, “Testing of glider vehicles conducted by EPA in 2017 showed even greater emissions impacts: NOx emissions were as much as 43 times higher than emissions from compliant vehicles, and PM emissions as much as 450 times higher. NOx and PM are linked to serious adverse health effects, including increased incidence of respiratory and cardiovascular disease and premature death.”

 

To read the article on Transport Topics, click here.

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Human Error Takes Toll on Global Supply Chain

Although there is a plethora of technology in today’s global supply chain industry, many jobs still require human interaction. According to a recent article in Inbound Logistics, the problem is that too many people are making too many mistakes.

By Matthew Tillman, CEO & Co-founder, Haven, Inc. writes in Inbound Logistics:

Most business is driven by an incentive to grow. The global supply chain follows a different narrative. Growth costs more than is affordable for the steamship line whose business it is to transport cargo, and there’s no way for these carriers to differentiate from competitors. Instead, carriers cut their costs and increase their margins.

The supply chain is broken because there are too many people who are doing too many things wrong. The result is human suffering. Businesses are deprived of the goods they sell. Communities are deprived of the food imports upon which they depend and workers are exploited. These practices are part of the history of the shipping industry. While identifying their symptoms is easy, finding root causes is difficult when the problem behaviors are taken for granted.

The most visible symptom of the ineffectual structure of shipping is criminal corruption, the type that lands an executive in prison seemingly every year; for example, the conviction of an employee of shipping line NYK with price fixing. Lacking solid data to prove price fixing is rampant, trade is structured to make it a very tempting crime because transporting cargo is a uniquely low-margin business in which the cost of growth is linear.

Customers of shipping lines aren’t encouraged to pay one particular carrier more for better offerings. Another option is for lines to improve customer experience, which could justify a carrier charging higher prices, but that means hiring workers. A carrier is likely to differentiate by lowering prices with lower interest rates on financing of new ships and loans that insure cargo.

Shipping lines will try to negotiate with banks for better interest rates, but this requires them to promise a certain volume of business to support the number of ships the bank is financing. Some lines are fortunate enough to be headquartered in countries that subsidize their business, giving them an edge over competitors. Lines that fail to secure good rates or subsidies have to consider other means to either increase margins. They can spend less on labor, which can easily lead to exploitation; an example of this is labor abuses in the Thai fishing industry.

Limited opportunity to differentiate and charge more is one reason margins are tight for shipping lines. Another is that adding a new line of business is expensive. In most industries, expansion becomes cost-effective over time, but not for carriers. Each new shipping line requires as many workers as established lines, so to start running a new ship between ports is as expensive as founding an entire new carrier company. This deters shipping lines from expanding and working with more customers, reinforcing their focus on increasing margins by lowering costs.

Examining the Root Cause

This problem of restricted expansion is where you understand that people are the problem. Too many workers are needed to keep things running because too much work is required for basic tasks. The average shipment with French carrier CMA CGM entails 22 booking changes before it’s booked to be transported.

Instead of a customer filling out a form online that automatically transfers information to every electronic location where it needs to be, workers physically copy and paste addresses from incoming orders to outgoing directions for laborers handling the physical cargo. Invoice errors are inevitable in this process, leading to billing disputes. The typical shipper loses $50,000 to $150,000 a year from invoice mistakes by carriers, according to one auditor. The ramifications of an error can be even more costly. If a dispute means a grain import doesn’t dock and unload, people aren’t eating.

As much attention as we pay to exploitative labor practices in palm oil production and brick making, we rarely look at the expenses that might incentivize these tragic systems. We bemoan world hunger and the irony of food waste, but we rarely look at why more food isn’t transported. The incentive and why is our broken global supply chain, and the problem is people. Automating shipping would lead to fewer errors and workers, which could lower transportation costs and allow for more cargo to be transported. Until shipping is automated, it will be glutted with people performing minute, redundant tasks, with a high propensity for error.

Click here to read the article in Inbound Logistics.

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Many Small and Mid-Sized Enterprises say Technology Drives Trade Growth

We know that technology continues to drive change in the transportation sector, but are companies more optimistic about it than we think?  According to a recent article in Inbound Logistics, approximately 80 percent of executives at small and mid-sized enterprises, who were surveyed, say that they use online platforms for rate quotes and bookings.

Felecia Stratton writes in Inbound Logistics:

Small and mid-size enterprises (SMEs) struggling for equal footing in the global economy increasingly look to cross-border trade for growth, seeing technology as a way past obstacles in shipping and compliance, according to new research from Shipa Freight.

Shipa Freight’s global study of 800 SMEs from developed and emerging markets shows smaller companies are remarkably upbeat about their ability to expand through trade.

Eighty-nine percent of exporting SMEs surveyed say their export revenue will grow over the next three years; 71 percent say they are concentrating more on international markets than on their home markets. The Shipa Freight survey included exporters and importers from the United States, UK, Germany, Italy, China, India, Indonesia, and UAE.

Smaller companies account for an estimated 95 percent of all businesses and employ two-thirds of the world’s workers. Critics of globalization have argued that decades of efforts aimed at easing the flow of goods, capital, and jobs across borders have come at the expense of SMEs and disproportionately benefitted multi-nationals and other large businesses.

Three-quarters of SME executives surveyed believe businesses that operate internationally are more resilient. Nearly 80 percent say they use online platforms for freight quotes and bookings.

SMEs that view the UK as one of their top export markets are looking elsewhere because of Brexit. Britain’s vote to leave the European Union has prompted 73 percent of respondents to prioritize trade with other European countries. Sixty percent of UK SMEs that export and 52 percent of UK SMEs that import say leaving the EU Single Market would be “disastrous” for them.

Smaller companies clearly see technology as a way to close the gap with bigger competitors, cope with documentation requirements, and access competitive shipping options. Eighty-six percent say technology is leveling the playing field for SMEs to operate globally; 89 percent believe technology is transforming the logistics sector.

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Telematics Data Reveals Drivers in Rural Areas Most Dangerous

With all the new technology out there today, it’s no too difficult to gather safety data that can measure key factors, such as hard braking, speeding, etc. A recent analysis by Verizon Connect assessed their customers’ data and found that the most dangerous driving occurs in rural states.

Aaron Huff of CCJ Digital writes:

Widespread use of telematics devices to monitor vehicle and driver performance gives fleet technology suppliers plenty of data to analyze and identify macro-level trends.

Recently, Verizon Connect analyzed driving data from its customers to identify states with the safest and most dangerous commercial drivers.

Its analysis accounted for harsh acceleration, harsh braking, harsh cornering, and speeding. Fatalities were thrown into the mix to calculate the safest and most unsafe states based on driving behaviors.

According to this infographic, the top three safest states are Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut. Nearly all 10 of the safest states are in the New England area where speeding opportunities may be limited due to traffic congestion. Perhaps not coincidentally, states with the fewest speeding events are Vermont, Virginia and Connecticut.

The most dangerous states all have large expanses of rural areas where speeding is likely to be more common. That seems to be the case for three states with the most speeding events — North and South Dakota and Montana.

On the other hand, Verizon’s data show that North Dakota has the safest drivers, which would seem to repudiate the hypothesis that commercial drivers in rural areas are more dangerous. The states with the most dangerous drivers, starting with Utah at number one, all have more variables at play than speeding.

To read the article on CCJ and to view the referenced infographic, click here.

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Trucking Industry Prospers, Trade Policy Holds Uncertain Effects

The economy is booming and unemployment rates are low at 3.8 percent, according to a recent article by Transport Topics. There are actually more trucking jobs than there are people looking for those jobs. There are currently 50,000 available full-time trucking jobs needed to support NAFTA. However, with the United States placing tariffs on other countries, including allies Mexico and Canada, it’s unclear what effects these tariffs may have on the industry.

Burney Simpson, Staff Reporter for Transport Topics writes:

The economy and trucking are in good shape for the second half of this year despite issues including the driver shortage. But uncertain trade policy is having an impact on future expansion, according to three industry experts who spoke June 7 at American Trucking Associations’ 2018 National Accounting & Finance Council annual conference in Raleigh, N.C.

The panel Economic Trends in Trucking Amidst Policy Changes featured Brad Delco, managing director of investment firm Stephens Inc., and Kenny Vieth, president of industry analyst ACT Research Co. It was moderated by ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello.

Summer is here and the overall economy is strong with three important forces doing well simultaneously, reported Costello. First, the consumer is at work with an unemployment rate at 3.8%.

“We have more job openings than people looking for work. This year wages could go up 3.5%. There is fast growth and that brings spending,” Costello said.

Then there’s a busy construction industry and factory output possibly growing 3% this year, Costello said.

Specific to trucking, business is growing as “more firms are going to two-day delivery. Inventory is cycled through faster at warehouses, but at the same time they have to have inventory on hand to be delivered,” Costello said.

Another positive is the sales and orders for trucks, Vieth said. “The technology in the new trucks is changing. Automated manual transmissions are huge, the safety technology is becoming a must have, the driver-assist technology such as lane departure, automatic braking, anti-rollover, all of this is wanted now,” Vieth said.

So, Costello asked, what challenges face the industry?

“The only constraint on this industry is a lack of drivers,” Delco said. And many carriers are addressing that by raising compensation to recruit and retain drivers.

The major problem at the moment is uncertainty on U.S. trade policy and the threat of tariffs, Vieth said. Tariffs typically lead to higher prices for steel and other commodities needed to build equipment.

“Policy is not clear. Then we’ve got events like Italy possibly leaving the European Union,” Vieth said. “Is that much ado about nothing? What happens to the EU when you consider Italy is the seventh largest economy in the world?”

Delco believes the economy will slow in 2019. He argues the long bull market in stocks appears to have hit its peak as trading whipsaws up and down. Meanwhile, policy announcements from the White House give investors pause.

“The stock cycle is long in the tooth, there’s greater volatility, the uncertainty is greater and people may pull back capital,” Delco said.

And it’s not clear why the United States is placing tariffs on allies such as Canada and Mexico, especially since it has trade surpluses in key commodities with these countries, Costello said. The renegotiation of the NAFTA trade agreement has become contentious and any deal, if it happens, won’t be signed until 2019.

“NAFTA is very important to trucking,” Costello said. “There are 50,000 full-time trucking jobs needed to support NAFTA, including 31,000 drivers. It means $6.6 billion annually to the trucking industry.”

In sum, trucks this summer have a full load and a relatively open road but be prepared next year for some congestion.

The NAFC conference was held in conjunction with ATA’s Technology & Maintenance Council Fleet Data Management & Cybersecurity Conference at the Marriott City Center in Raleigh.

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The Future of our Highway Infrastructure

According to the following opinion piece published in Transport Topics, America was number one in infrastructure back in 2005. However, today, we are ranked number 9. The question now is: How are we going to bounce back?

In an opinion piece, Ed Rendell and Ray LaHood | Co-Chairs, Building America’s Future, write in Transport Topics:

The expansive infrastructure networks that were built in the 20th century have served our nation well. As America’s economy grew, people and goods continued to move across the country, and the quality of life for all our citizens continued to improve. But in recent years, our infrastructure has been neglected and underfunded as policymakers in Washington have ignored the decay and disrepair of our roads, bridges and transit systems.

For decades, America’s roads and bridges were paid for by the users of transportation systems through modest fuel taxes. The system worked well for years, but as vehicles became more fuel efficient and cars that use little or no fuelat all became more prevalent, less revenue from this user fee flowed into the Highway Trust Fund.

Since 1993, the fuel tax rates of 24.4 cents per gallon for diesel and 18.4 cents per gallon for gasoline have not increased, and have due to inflation lost a good deal of their purchasing power. Congress has declined to take any action to approve even a modest increase in these rates or even index them to inflation.

Unfortunately, inaction has severe consequences. Since the Highway Trust Fund has not kept up with our nation’s growing needs, the result has been clear: Our roads are cratered with potholes, our bridges no longer handle growing traffic volume, and traffic congestion has grown to unbearable levels in many of our cities. And we are falling behind our global economic competitors. The World Economic Forum ranked our infrastructure No. 1 in the world in 2005, but after years of inaction we have fallen to No. 9 — a significant step back.

It’s time to forge a new path forward. Competing in the 21st century requires 21st century infrastructure and a 21st century way to pay for it.

Congress should look no further than the states that have been testing the feasibility of replacing the system that charges drivers by how much fuel they consume with how many miles they drive. States like Oregon and California have been at the forefront of this testing, and Washington, Colorado, Utah and Minnesota have also been exploring this concept.

A road user charge would address the growing fuel efficiency of vehicles while at the same time ensure that hybrid and electric vehicles that currently pay little or nothing contribute their fair share. In addition to generating needed revenue, such a program could also be used to better manage traffic congestion by using variable pricing based on time of day and traffic volume. Variable pricing is already widely used on highways around the country. The 495 Express Lanes in Northern Virginia, the I-15 Express Lanes near San Diego and 95 Express in Miami are three examples.

Full-scale implementation of a national road user charge is several years away. In the interim, we must continue to rely on fuel taxes, but it is imperative that they be increased and indexed to inflation.

The Highway Trust Fund is projected to go bankrupt in 2020. If something isn’t done to increase funding — be it an increase in fuel taxes, transfers from the general fund of the treasury or something else — it will have a $138 billion shortfall over the next 10 years. And if that shortfall is addressed with an increase and indexing of the gas tax, there would be no impact on the federal deficit. This would not be the case if money is transferred from the general fund.

We believe this proposal is the bridge to the 21st century that is needed to get America’s infrastructure back to No. 1. It will require vision, courage and action from our policymakers.

With the close of the recent 6th annual Infrastructure Week, now is the time to act. The future won’t wait. Neither can we. It’s #TimeToBuild.

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