ATA testifies on truck productivity

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The trucking industry on Wednesday, July 9, asked Congress to review federal laws that limit the ability of the trucking industry to increase productivity and more efficiently and safely move the U.S. economy.

Testifying on behalf of the American Trucking Associations before the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Michael Smid — president and chief executive officer of YRC North American Transportation — said fundamental changes that permit increased trucking industry productivity will reduce congestion on the nation’s highways, reduce energy use and improve highway safety and air quality.

“Over the previous quarter century, the trucking industry has made continuous improvements that have allowed its customers to significantly reduce inventories and create manufacturing and supply chain efficiencies that have saved the U.S. economy billions of dollars, increased salaries, slowed consumer price increases and created countless jobs,” Smid said. “Any disruption to the movement of freight on our nation’s highway systems will jeopardize these gains.”

Federal law that governs truck productivity has not been updated since 1982. Yet since then, truck tonnage has increased nearly 40 percent, driven by a 32 percent increase in the U.S. population and 82 percent growth in Gross Domestic Product, Smid testified; while other freight transportation modes have adapted their equipment to meet these growing demands, the capacity of the trucking industry has remained virtually stagnant.

Smid testified that under current federal and state truck regulations, the growth in freight demand will require a 41 percent increase in the number of commercial trucks, adding nearly 3 million trucks to the nation’s roads. Smid highlighted that use of more productive trucks will limit the need for additional trucks, as well as allow Congress and states to avoid some of the significant costs required to improve highway conditions and to address highway congestion.