March 2021 Newsletter
Senators Introduce Trucking Workforce Legislation
Senators have unveiled the DRIVE Safe Act which would allow CDL holders under 21 years old to operate commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce through an apprenticeship program. The aim is to enhance safety training as well as to expand job opportunities. The American Trucking Association (ATA) has endorsed the Act noting that creating a federal apprenticeship program could enhance the nation’s commercial operations.
Other potential benefits of the DRIVE Safe Act may Include:
- Enhancing safety training and technology standards
- Boosting communities that rely on trucks to move goods in and out of state
- Creating economic benefits for the freight supply chain
- Allowing young drivers access to comprehensive job training, higher paying jobs, and early career growth
- Addressing the ongoing driver shortage
Buttigieg Says Biden Plan Will Usher In New Transportation Era
The South by Southwest Conference was held on March 18th with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg attending as a keynote speaker. Buttigieg spoke on the expected infrastructure plan from President Joe Biden, which will offer a “once in a century” opportunity to remake transportation. He said the U.S. can no longer follow the mentality of building roads and communities based on moving as many cars as possible, but must shift to greener outlooks.
The infrastructure plan is poised to focus largely on adapting to climate change with Buttigieg stating, “the design choices we make, how fast cars move, whether there’s bike lanes and sidewalks … green space even, all of this is part of that view.” He went on to say, “Sometimes we do need to add a road or widen one. Just as often, I think we need to subtract.” However, in the coming months a divided Congress will be preparing for fights over the shape of the infrastructure package, including the amount of federal investments in public transportation versus highways.
US Economy, Trucking Industry Poised for Strong Recovery, Economists Predict
The United States economy, and the trucking economy specifically, are poised to have a significant recovery in the second half of 2021. The $1.9 trillion in federal stimulus, millions of vaccinations, and the reopening of restaurants, ballparks, and theaters are predicted to be the driving forces behind this recovery. However, economists agree the booming trucking economy won’t come without its challenges.
Bob Costello, American Trucking Associations Chief Economist, and Dale Rogers, Professor at Arizona State, share their predictions on how a recovering economy will tighten the already limited capacity market of the trucking industry. Costello believes that while all sectors within trucking will see a jump start in business, it is likely the driver shortage has grown significantly since the start of the pandemic. Rogers echoes this point stating, “It’s just amazing how transportation pricing is way up, and capacity is way down. The trucking economy is pretty hot, demand is up, and prices are up.”