(PHOTO: JIM ALLEN/FREIGHTWAVES)
The Trucking Alliance kicked off 2019 by reaffirming its commitment to safety and making its priority objectives known. Steve Williams, president of the Trucking Alliance Board of Directors, released a statement outlining the group’s focus.
The Trucking Alliance is made-up of several well-known transportation companies, including Cargo Transporters, Dupré Logistics, JB Hunt Transport, KLLM Transport Services, Knight-Swift Transportation, Maverick USA and U.S. Xpress.
Williams pointed out that, while the trucking industry is an integral part of virtually all Americans’ quality of life, the industry still sees many large truck crashes. He said those crashes claimed 4,761 lives and injured 145,000 people last year, with the number of truck drivers killed in crashes reaching a 10-year high.
“For an industry that wants to improve its image…look no further than these statistics,” Williams said. “We must aggressively address these tragic figures. But how can we when the trucking industry will deliver even more freight in 2019 over highways that are even more congested?”
He said the first step toward toward eliminating large truck safety concerns is reversing priorities inside the industry.
“A first step is to reverse our priorities. Support progressive safety reforms that make sense for our country and citizens first, our industry second and our companies third,” Williams said. “Second, safety groups, legislators, regulators and all segments of our diverse industry should leave their respective corners, meet in the middle and responsibly deal with the unprecedented challenges we face.”
Truck drivers should not be burdened with the responsibility to make-up for an inefficient supply chain. It is time for the industry to protect drivers from having their strong work ethics used against them, according to Williams.
He also called for the expansion of ELDs and improved drug testing throughout the industry.
The Trucking Alliance supported the ELD mandate from day one, and Williams said the devices have already the work environment from drivers in the year since they became widely required. He believes ELDs should be required on all large trucks, regardless of commodity, length of haul and interstate/intrastate distinction.
Williams’ advocated for more thorough drug testing and a central database allowing companies to identify past offenders.
“Contrary to what you may think, like our Nation, our industry has a drug abuse problem. In fact, the Department of Transportation’s only required drug test for truck driver applicants is actually missing as many as nine of every 10 lifestyle drug users. We should utilize drug tests that verify an applicant has been drug free for at least 60 days,” Williams said. “And we need a long awaited database to identify who has previously failed these drug tests. We must be able to assure the motoring public that our commercial drivers are properly rested, properly trained and drug and alcohol free.”
In addition to widespread ELDS and amped up drug testing, Williams said requiring large trucks to maintain a reasonable speed, adopting new safety technologies like collision warning systems and increasing compensation for truck accident victims are important steps to creating safer roadways.
The ultimate goal is to eliminate large truck accidents altogether.
“In summary, owning a trucking company or driving a piece of equipment for a living is not an entitlement. It is a privilege. With privileges come responsibilities. What we do is important. But how we do it is much more important. No longer should anybody defend the actions of those who don’t deserve to be on the road,” Williams said. “That’s why it should be difficult for people to get into this industry. It will be increasingly hard to stay in this industry, as it should be. In so doing, we will have much safer highways for all and an economic opportunity to build a safe and efficient supply chain for the future.”
Williams encouraged industry officials to stop reminiscing about the way things used to be and start embracing change.
The FREIGHTWAVES TOP 500 For-Hire Carriers list includes Knight-Swift Transportation (No. 3), U.S. Xpress (No. 13), KLLM (No. 47), Maverick USA (No. 64), Dupré Logistics (No. 114) and Cargo Transporters (No. 159).