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Graves: EOBRs could help carriers manage resources better

Rather than limit the productivity of the trucking industry as some fear, eventual widespread adoption of electronic onboard recorders actually could improve the overall management of trucking companies, American Trucking Associations President Bill Graves said Monday, Jan. 22.

In a speech to the Heavy Duty Dialogue, an annual meeting of the Heavy Duty Manufacturers Association, Graves said, “I honestly believe you are going to find us being more productive and better able to manage our resources.” Currently, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration isn’t proposing a broad mandate. Rather, it seeks to target “bad actors” in the industry, an approach ATA endorses.

Graves also defended ATA’s position that the speed of large trucks should be limited at 68 mph at point of manufacture. “I think 68 mph is fast enough, and we can effectively move the commerce of this country at that speed.”

On an issue more to the heart of the industry suppliers attending Heavy Duty Dialogue, Graves acknowledged that 2007 “is clearly going to be a difficult year” for the industry. ATA had sought tax credits to help smooth out the booms and busts of truck buying, but “for a variety of reasons we were unsuccessful.”

In the long run, infrastructure – and how to finance it – is a huge issue for the trucking issue, Graves said. “The current administration would like to shift some responsibility back to the states.” Meanwhile, Congress wants to abdicate responsibility because unpopular solutions such as raising gas taxes are “politically too tough of a pill to swallow.”

It’s critical, Graves said, that elected leaders and the public understand how critical trucks are to a vibrant economy. Anything that is purchased or built requires a truck movement. “There is no ‘Beam me up, Scotty’ freight delivery system.”

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