We seek to improve supply chains and freight transportation - all while advancing safety and reducing emissions, vehicle miles traveled, fuel consumption, and congestion. The Shippers Coalition is here to share the story of shippers across the country and propose solutions that increase fluidity in the supply chain.
Trucks are currently leaving our ports, factories, and warehouses without being at full capacity, exacerbating supply chain challenges and impacting consumers around the country.
The Federal government last changed gross vehicle weight limits on interstate highways in 1982, but in the last 40 years there have been major advancements in truck safety technology. Yet today, heavier trucks are currently driving on state and local roads past our schools, homes, and playgrounds instead of our Federal highway system. Increasing Gross Vehicle Weight Limits would move these trucks back on to the better built Federal Interstates where they belong.
On reducing carbon footprints, the US Department of Transportation’s 2015 technical study work found that the 6-axle truck at up to 91,000-pounds would reduce fuel consumption, CO2, NOX, and congestion costs.
The CARES Act included a provision to allow states to issue permits to increase Gross Vehicle Weight limits on Interstates during the COVID-19 crisis. During this time there were no increased safety risks and our members found environmental benefits through a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
Over the last 15 years, the trucking industry has experienced a severe driver shortage. It is expected that the problem will continue to worsen, and the industry will need to recruit nearly one million new drivers in the next decade to replace the retiring workforce. Not only is it important to recruit new drivers to the industry, but there also must be ways to retain drivers by improving their quality of life while on the job. This can be done by allowing drivers under 21 to cross states lines, offering incentives for veteran, women, and minority drivers, providing tax incentives to current and newly eligible truck drivers, reducing barriers for entry to truck driving school, increasing the availability of truck parking, and streamlining the CDL process.
The quality of life for current drivers is important to bolster to keep them in the industry. Availability of parking has long been an issue for all truck drivers, becoming more elevated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Rest stops, roads, and parking lots were closed, making the search for parking even more difficult for drivers. On average, truck drivers spend one hour searching for parking every day. If drivers are unable to find a legal spot, often they are forced into an uncomfortable parking situation: parking illegally or operating outside of hours-of-service regulations. Additional funding is necessary to address a critical shortage of available parking for semis and large commercial trucks so drivers do not have to spend additional time searching for available parking. Providing drivers with ample rest space and parking locations will help alleviate stress and drivers’ physical and mental
The Shippers Coalition implores Congress to work in a bipartisan fashion to ensure that it is as easy as possible, without compromising safety, to recruit and retain qualified drivers. This is only the beginning of what needs to be done to alleviate the nationwide truck driver shortage, ensure a high quality of life for drivers while on the job, and take pressure off the system.
American producers, exporters, and economic sectors have struggled with widespread delays, bottlenecks, and increased fees at our ports. These challenges are intensified by vessel-operating common carriers (VOCCs) delivering shipments to U.S. ports and then electing to leave without refilling empty containers with American goods for export.
The Ocean Shipping Reform Act, passed by Congress and signed into law by the President, will limit anticompetitive behavior, help reduce the skyrocketing prices shippers face to get their goods to the global market.
The Ocean Shipping Reform Act will help ease shipping backlogs and crack down on skyrocketing international ocean shipping costs. The bill provides the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) with new tools to help level the playing field for American exporters and limit anticompetitive behavior. While the passage of this bill was monumental, it was only the first step in alleviating the issues seen at ports across the United States. The Shippers Coalition is closely following the implementation of these provisions to ensure the voice of the shipper is heard throughout this process to lower shipping costs and strengthen all aspects of the supply chain.
The current Hours of Service (HOS) do not work for shippers moving live-haul and perishable items. 14 hours of on-duty time is not enough for agricultural commodities. Stopping the truck for hours to comply with hours-of-service rules poses a threat to animal health and perishable items with expiration dates.
To ensure that our agriculture haulers can safely and effectively move goods, the Federal government needs to offer permanent flexibility to drivers.
Current HOS rules allow for 11 hours of drive time and 14 hours of on-duty time, then require 10 consecutive hours of rest. However, when transporting livestock and perishable items, there is a real need for further flexibility beyond the current hours of service. These commodities require additional training and the ability to move products as weather, roads, animals, and products allow. Individual drivers have indicated that the added flexibility when hauling certain COVID loads allowed them to drive when rested and rest when tired, rather than having to abide by a strict clock.
Citing the success of the COVID-19 emergency declaration, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has been asked to grant hours of service relief to truckers hauling certain loads. The Shippers Coalition seeks to provide a 150-Airmiles exemption from hours-of-service regulations on the front end and the back end of hauls before hours-of-service rules apply to all agricultural commodities.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) should work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to ensure all regulations for moving live animals and perishable items work for all drivers and abide by USDA recommendations. USDOT has long delayed finalizing rules and regulations and should work with the industry to ensure any rules are achievable and workable for our shippers.