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  • Joseph Sarcona

8 Things You Might Not Know About the American Trucking Associations

With almost three quarters of American goods transported by truck, trucking is big business today. We look at the history of the American Trucking Associations (ATA), identifying the organization’s key functions today.

1. The ATA was established on September 23, 1933.

The organization was created by a merger of the Federated Trucking Associations of America and the American Highway Freight Association, culminating in a national affiliation of state trucking organizations.

At the time of its establishment, ATA had a staff of just eight people working from a three-office suite in the Transportation Building, Washington DC. During WWII, the US Army requested that the ATA be engaged to recruit US Army Transportation Corps personnel. Consequently, more than 5,700 industry employees volunteered.

After the war ended, the ATA led industries and groups supporting Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Interstate Highway System. The ambitious plan established a network of controlled-access highways that form the backbone of American transportation logistics today.

2. The ATA represents members before Congress and the courts.

As America’s foremost trucking trade association, the ATA represents all 50 state trucking associations, three councils, and two conferences. Each state organization is independent, with its own officers, dues structure, membership, staff, and budgets. However, all have voting powers and representation within the federation.

3. The ATA prioritizes three core values: essentiality, safety, and sustainability.

The US economy would grind to an abrupt halt without the trucking industry. Trucks haul over 70 percent of freight tonnage and almost 100 percent of consumer goods across the United States. It is essential to everyday life for every citizen.

The associations’ safety message focuses on three key areas: safer vehicles, safer motor carriers, and improved driving performance. Since new Hours-of-Service regulations were enacted in 2004, the truck-related fatality rate has fallen by over 20 percent. Today, the trucking industry is safer than ever before, according to figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

With the effects of climate change felt across America ever more acutely, the ATA emphasizes the need for sustainability in the trucking industry, reducing greenhouse gas emissions without impinging the movement of goods critical to the US economy. From imposing a 65mph speed limit to improving highways to alleviate congestion, the ATA has played a leading role in making the trucking industry more energy efficient and environmentally friendly.

4. The ATA plays a major role in US industry today.

The trucking industry accounts for almost 6 percent of all US jobs. The US is heavily reliant on the sector, not just in terms of transporting goods from A to B, but as a major contributor to the US GDP.

The domestic trucking industry generates hundreds of billions of dollars every year, employs millions of drivers, and serves as a vital lifeline between producers and consumers. In 2017, the US trucking industry reported revenues higher than the GDP of more than 150 countries.

5. The ATA is the voice of the American trucking industry.

Featuring trucking association affiliates in all 50 states, this 86-year-old federation represents every aspect of the trucking industry, from auto haulers to agriculture and livestock transporters, advocating for all types of enterprise, large and small.

The ATA leverages the size and strength of its membership to develop, advance, and innovate research-based policies to promote highway safety, environmental sustainability, security, and profitability. As a national leader in truck transportation advocacy, the ATA diligently educates and guides policymakers at all levels of government on the critical part the trucking industry plays in the US economy.

6. The ATA presents a National Driver of the Year Award.

Recognizing one professional truck driver for their excellent driving attributes and exemplary accomplishments, the Driver of the Year Award is presented to truckers in honor of their outstanding contribution to highway safety. It recognizes outstanding deeds of highway courtesy or heroism, and/or a long record of safe, courteous driving.

The winner is selected by a panel of impartial experts selected from the trucking industry, law enforcement agencies, and government. The National Driver of the Year Award is the highest honor a truck driver can receive in the US. Winners are presented with a trophy, diamond lapel pin, and a cash prize at the ATA Annual Awards Banquet.

7. The ATA provides members with vital tools to grow their business.

Focused on delivering bottom-line results for all of its members, the ATA provides the answers and advice members need to establish and expand their enterprise.

8. The ATA ensures that lawmakers support the future of the trucking industry.

Trucks are essential to the American economy, supporting our whole way of life. Whenever the government takes decisions affecting the industry, the impact is felt not just by millions of businesses that simply could not exist without trucks, but by the American public too.

Throughout the course of a lifetime, each of us relies on a multitude of services and goods. No industry is more central to this story than trucking, as the ATA’s President and CEO Chris Spear points out.



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