• Timely Topics

  • Below you will find more information on some of the stories and topics that continue to impact the trucking industry. Many of them have links to additional resources. Please take a moment explore these and stay up to date on the latest. Watch your inbox for each week's "Timely Topics" in the Express e-Newsletter!



    Amazon Makes Plans to Launch Own Delivery Fleet

    First delivery drones, now its own trucking fleet. Amazon is making plans to dive deeper into the trucking and logistics industry with the proposed launch of "Shipping with Amazon," or SWA. The service will involve the online retailer picking up parcels from businesses and shipping them to consumers. It's expected to roll out in Los Angeles in the coming weeks. sources, including the Wall Street Journal and Money, Amazon, which helped launch the boom in online shopping and has taken the business to incredible heights, has been straining the capability of existing P&D (pickup and delivery) companies with the sheer volume of its online sales. Find out more.


    Carriers Try Creative Compensation Programs to Bring in New Drivers

    With the driver shortage getting worse, fleets are getting more creative when it comes to compensating drivers. Recruitment and retainment methods include a weekly salary, a team bonus program and offering more predictability in scheduling. American Trucking Associations last year reported the shortage at more than 50,000 drivers. Research firm FTR said the number is closer to 250,000 drivers when firms such as UPS Inc., and oil field service outfits are included. Read more.


    Study Identifies Benefits for Driving Simulators as Companion to In-Cab Trainers

    A recent study found that driving simulators can be as effective in training truck drivers as a live teacher for tasks such as braking and shifting gears. Advocates for the simulators contend the devices are a valuable addition to, but not a replacement for, hands-on training by in-cab teachers. The study found that, when compared to groups using teacher-led training and no simulator, those groups using the simulator were as proficient in straight-line backing and in 45-degree backing, taking around the same amount of time to finish the tasks. Read more about the study here.


    Martinez Confirmed as FMCSA Administrator

    Ray Martinez, the former head of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission, is now the latest director of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Martinez’s appointment to become the sixth director in the agency’s history was confirmed via voice vote by the Senate on Feb. 13. He previously received unanimous approval from the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. Read more.



    Find Answers to Questions Around New Entry-level Driver Training Rule

    In 2016, FMCSA announced the final rule establishing comprehensive national minimum training standards for entry-level commercial truck and bus operators seeking to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL) or certain endorsements. Applicants seeking a CDL would be required to demonstrate proficiency in knowledge training and behind-the-wheel training on a driving range and on a public road, with training obtained from an instructional program that meets FMCSA standards. The entry-level driver training Final Rule went into effect on February 6, 2017, with a compliance date of February 2020. But, what does this mean for carriers and new drivers?

    FMCSA has developed a comprehensive list of Frequently Asked Questions. Click here to review them. You can also find more information on the Final Rule on FMCSA's website.


    Reminder: Rules Change on Driver Meal Expenses

    The federal tax reform package that passed Congress December 20 changes the rules for some truck drivers on the expenses they incur for meals and incidentals while they’re away from home on travel.  Employee truck drivers whose carrier does not pay them a per diem allowance will no longer be able to take the costs of meals and incidentals as an itemized deduction, as they have in the past.  Although this will be hard on some drivers, it may not make a difference to many, since the new tax law also doubles the standard deduction for taxpayers, so that fewer drivers will be itemizing at all.  This change is effective now, for 2018 taxes.  Note that owner-operators will still be able to deduct their costs for meals and incidentals, just as they have in the past, since owner-operators are in business for themselves, and those costs are deductible business expenses.  Finally, some carriers pay their employee drivers a separate per diem allowance to cover meals and incidentals.  The rules for carriers and drivers in that situation do not change.  We might caution, however, that the rules pertaining to per diem programs are complicated and somewhat tricky to implement. Click here to read more.


    ATA Survey on Towing Problems Still Open

     Last month, ATA started a survey of its members – and other interested parties – on the problems motor carriers and their insurers are having when equipment is involved in traffic accidents and needs to be towed.  While not every tower takes advantage of a motor carrier, many do, and the problem appears to be growing worse. Although federal law specifically allows states to regulate nonconsensual towing, few states currently do so. ATA will use the results of the towing survey to help pinpoint where the worst trouble seems to be, and to get a better handle on the nature of the problems and how to fix them. Please take a moment to complete the survey now. All responses will remain confidential. Go to: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ATAtowing


    Registration is Now Open for the 2018 CVSA Workshop in Portland, Oregon

    The CVSA Workshop provides the opportunity for enforcement, government officials and industry to continue to work together to advance commercial motor vehicle safety. This is your chance to collaborate with your colleagues from across North America to affect meaningful changes to the overall culture of transportation safety. This unique opportunity is coming to Portland on April 8 – 12, 2018 at the Hilton Portland Downtown.

    • Get the full schedule of sessions and events here

    • Registration and other general information can also be found online


    REMINDER: Share Your Thoughts on the Future of Transportation in Portland

    How would you prioritize the next 20 years of transportation investment, specifically in the Portland area? Share your thoughts and help shape the 2018 Regional Transportation Plan. Comments will be accepted through Feb. 17.

    Find out more about the RTP at oregonmetro.gov/rtp.


    OTA staff will be periodically monitoring this page to add new topics and remove outdated information. Keep your eye out for our Express e-Newsletter each week for a full list of member-only articles!