National Legislative Issues
Highway Trust Fund
The federal fuel tax rate has not been raised since 1993. We support adequate, long-term, stable, and sustainable funding for the federal aid highway program. Since 2008, the highway trust fund shortfalls have required the transfer of $140 billion dollars from the General Fund. Without this transfer there would have been substantial cuts in in the federal aid program. The nation’s highways are crumbling, two-thirds of highways are in poor to mediocre condition and ten percent of bridges are structurally obsolete. One possible solution is to pass the Build America Fee, a 20-cent fee increase on fuel at the terminal rack phased in over four years with annual indexation for inflation and improvements in vehicle fuel efficiency. Additionally, we support the elimination of the 12% Federal Excise Tax (FET) added to a new truck or trailer.
Lower the minimum age for interstate drivers from 21 to 18. There is a national shortage of over the road drivers. We are currently 60,000 drivers short and this will continue to grow to 890,000 by 2026. Just 6 years away. One part of solving this shortage is to change the minimum age of interstate drivers from 21 to 18 in a responsible safe manner. The Drive Safe Act will require a 400-hour apprenticeship, require the driver to demonstrate competency in at least 10 performance benchmarks, trucks they use must be equipped with the latest safety technologies (collision mitigation, cameras, etc.), use speed limiters set at 65 mph. The goal is to grow the workforce while companies invest in safety.
Automated Vehicle Technology
Currently automated braking systems, stability control, lane departure warning, and forward collision warning systems are already in the market and making a positive impact on safety. As vehicles are able to communicate with each other (V2V) and surrounding infrastructure (V2I), safety will improve exponentially. We believe that federal legislation should preempt any state laws to ensure continuity and harmonization. Also, we should strongly encourage that the 5.9 HGZ spectrum that has been reserved by the FTC for V2V and V2I is preserved and not encroached on by other users such as WIFI as this will cause serious risk of losing the promise of safety from automation.
Drug Testing, Hair Testing
In March of 2018, the President signed into law HR 1265, the TARGET Act, which encouraged the Health and Human Services Secretary to produce technical guidelines for the use in hair testing as a Federally accepted drug testing method. This is way overdue. This will provide trucking companies with the option to use hair testing as an alternative to urinalysis in meeting the Federal drug testing requirements which will unlock tremendous cost and safety benefits for the trucking industry and motoring public.
Remove Redundant Background Checks
Currently a truck driver must go through a security threat assessment administered by TSA to obtain a TWIC credential to access maritime ports, another to haul hazardous material and then another check to have airport access and finally a fourth STA check is needed to receive a permit to cross the U.S. border. This is a costly and duplicative burden placed on the American truck driver which results in no improvement in security or safety. We need one credential and one screening for multiple uses.
Interstate Transportation of Hemp
USDA issued an interim final rule that affirms the interstate transportation of hemp as long as it contains only 0.3% or less of THC. The rule prevents a state or Indian Tribe from prohibiting the transportation or shipment of hemp produced in accordance with the IFR and with section 7606 of the 2014 Farm Bill. 7. State Legalization of Medical and Recreational use of Marijuana. We strongly advocate for the reduction of impaired driving, in all forms. Besides hair testing and support for the drug and alcohol clearinghouse we ask that the government maintains the right for employers to test for marijuana, support marijuana research on the impact of impairment, support the development of fluid testing and impairment standards, and call for the creation of a marijuana victims compensation fund paid for by the dispensaries, cultivators, and manufacturers.
Promote the Women in Trucking Workforce Act
Women currently make up 47% of the workforce but less than 7% of truck drivers and only 25% of all transportation and warehousing jobs in trucking. This act will bring greater attention to the recruitment, training, mentorship, and outreach to women in the trucking industry. This will lead to increased female representation in trucking and greater industry diversity while providing another tool to help the driver shortage.
Proposed Hours of Service Changes
There are five proposed changes to the current HOS rules. They are short-haul operations, adverse driving conditions, 30 minute break, sleeper berth time, and split duty period. There have been 2,600 comments.