Working To Address Your Biggest Issues – The mission of the Minnesota Trucking Association says it all: Serve as the voice for a safe and successful Minnesota trucking industry. To that end, we have undertaken a number of initiatives to address your biggest issues.
Studying the Use of Split-Sleeper Berth Time – In the past year, the MTA joined the American Trucking Associations in petitioning the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to study use of split-sleeper berth time. Our petition lays out a protocol to study how driver time may be split and used without impairing safety. I am pleased to report that FMCSA has announced it plans to begin this study in 2015. Joe Greenstein (our ATA State Vice President) and I visited with the FMCSA’s Chief Safety Officer at a recent conference. We discussed the importance of regaining sleeper flexibility for drivers. The FMCSA will be soliciting carriers to participate, and we will make sure a Minnesota fleet is up for consideration.
Testing Fuel to Determine Biodiesel Impacts – During last year’s Polar Vortex, our office heard anecdotes suggesting that biodiesel was making winter-related fuel issues worse. To determine if biodiesel is indeed a cold-weather problem, the MTA has created a new Fuel and Emissions Project Team. This group will develop a protocol for collecting and testing samples. We will use a certified third-party testing firm to run the analysis for us. MTA Director Pat Duffy, River States Truck and Trailer, is leading this team.
Recruiting Younger Drivers into the Industry – The MTA has created a team to answer the question:
Are there any federal regulations or statutes that, if changed, could meaningfully increase the number of available truck drivers ten years from now? This team will specifically explore the merits of changing the interstate driving regulation from an age-based approach to a distance-based approach. MTA Director Kevin Otto, Otto Transfer, chairs this team.
Here is the ironic truth. An 18-year-old can legally drive a tractor-trailer from Worthington, Minnesota to International Falls, Minnesota (425 miles), but can’t drive the same unit to Sioux Falls, South Dakota (62 miles). Furthermore, that same 18-year-old can’t haul some local loads because the shipment is in-transit and thus defined as interstate in nature. We hope the team’s recommendations can lead to a true “school to work” path for becoming an over-the-road driver.
Looking Down the Road – Transportation Funding will almost certainly be a major focus of the 2015 Session of the Minnesota Legislature. The Board of Directors has spent considerable time learning and evaluating to make sure we are well-positioned in this debate. On the federal level, look out for a proposal to mandate truck drivers be paid by the hour. This could be one of President Obama’s parting gifts as he prepares to head out the door in two years. Whatever comes, you can trust the MTA will be doing its part to keep you safe and successful.
Merry Christmas – From the staff and leaders of the MTA, here is wishing you a Merry Christmas and prosperous 2015!