Transportation Management: New Bill Targets Safety and Efficiency

America’s critical infrastructure – its bridges, highway systems and roads, in particular – has become a more frequent topic of concern for transportation management professionals, especially as the economic downturn has seen fewer funds diverted to upkeep, repair and expansion. Last week, however, Congress took steps to make safety and efficiency improvements that will certainly have a trickle-down effect for those involved in day-to-day transportation management and transportation of goods.

Among the bill’s provisions were:

  • A requirement for commercial driver compliance to be reinforced by electronic logging devices
  • Enhanced tracking of drug and alcohol testing results
  • A study to determine crash safety among commercial trucks
  • New systems to assist in reporting moving violations to employers
  • Mandatory safety testing for new carriers

The bill appears poised to bring America’s transportation systems up to 21st century standards, something that is generally considered long overdue even within the industry itself. Beyond the safety and efficiency concerns addressed by Congress, today’s typical transportation company is often mired in inefficient processes that are slowly being replaced by automated systems. Weeding out dated procedures is helping businesses become more competitive and adaptive to the market and their customers.

American Trucking Associations (ATA) President and CEO Bill Graves responded to the bill’s passage by saying, While there is much to like about this bill, ATA is extremely disappointed that Congress has once again kicked the can down the road with respect to truck productivity. By giving into fear-based misinformation, this bill delays the deployment of some of our industry’s safest, most fuel efficient trucks. We fully expect this latest study to confirm what numerous other studies have already told us: modest increases in truck size and weight limits have a net positive effect on highway safety and maintenance.

In short, the provisions were a step in the right direction, but not quite all of what transportation management professionals were hoping to see in the bill. More changes are surely on the horizon as transportation management evolves along with federal regulations and current market standards.

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Chris Cairns

Can you elaborate on why Bill Graves thinks the delay of safer, more full-efficient trucks is an issue? What trucks are we talking about here?

Brian Knotts

I assume it has something to do with the size and weight of the trucks. When he talks about the bill delaying deployment of some of the industry’s safest, most fuel efficient trucks, it would seem that those trucks are bigger and heavier than those being used currently.