ATA's top stories for 2014
Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Posted by: Ford Boswell
As we close another great year for the Alabama Trucking Association, it’s time once again to reflect on the events and happenings that shaped our Association and the trucking industry in 2014.
It was a particularly interesting year in terms of changes to industry regulation. In fact, the biggest news for trucking took place less than a month ago when President Obama signed a new federal budget that also held language to suspend the 34-hour restart provision of the current hours-of-service regulation. The rule now goes back to the drawing board for more research into its effectiveness. Of course, this battle has been fought for almost a decade, and while the decision to suspend the restart provision certainly helps carriers in the short term, the issue is far from over and more long, drawn out battles are likely.
Meanwhile, there also were major developments for Alabama carriers such as the court judgment in Talladega County last spring that brought limits to the collection of state property taxes on Alabama motor carriers involved in interstate commerce with respect to miles they drive within the state. ATA has argued for years that property such as trucks and trailers should be taxed on actual miles driven in Alabama.
There was also some sad news: Last summer this Association lost ones of its favorite leaders, Bill Watson of Anniston. Mr. Watson was a brilliant businessman, a dedicated family man, a respected community and industry leader, and just an all-around great person who loved life, trucking and this Association. He died August 3 at his home after a brief illness. He will be missed.
And now, without further ado, the Alabama Trucking Association’s Top News Events for 2014:
10. AAA Cooper driver wins second straight Alabama Truck Driving Championship
Gary Nuckolls, a veteran driver for AAA Cooper Transportation, posted the high score of 364 points, earning the right to lift the Grand Champion trophy at the Alabama Trucking Association’s Truck Driving Championships held June 6 in Birmingham. It was his second straight Grand Champion title. A former Alabama Truck Driver of the Year (2004) and a class winner at numerous Alabama TDCs, Nuckolls won the 4-Axle Van class by 73 points, edging his closest class winner by 33 points. He even improved his overall high score from the previous year by more than 30 points.
9. Alabama modifies CDL skills test
The Alabama Dept. of Public Safety announced in October that it made changes to its commercial driver license test to better reflect recent updates to the applicant manual. These changes went into effect Nov. 1. Notable changes were made to the pre-trip vehicle inspection where a driver must perform all three air brake checks correctly in order to receive credit. If a driver fails to do any one part correctly it is scored as an automatic failure for the inspection test. Additions were also made to basic the vehicle skills portion of the test, including a straight line backing test; offset back/right; and alley dock.
8. Golf Classic raises another record amount
ATA's 2014 Golf Classic was our most successful tournament on record. The event grossed nearly a quarter of million dollars, which netted more than $180,000 for the Association's political action committee TRUK PAC. With generous financial support from marquee sponsor McLeod Software and more than 100 other member firms that donated funds, ATA’s annual golf tournament continues to grow and improve. Thanks to everyone for their continued support and participation.
7. ATA selects new Alabama Road Team members
Last spring the Alabama Trucking Association selected three new members for its Alabama Road Team, a public education program that promotes highway safety within the trucking industry and educates the motoring public on how to drive near large commercial vehicles. New Road Team members are Rodney Cosper, UPS Freight; Rusty Holmes; UPS Freight; and Daniel Thompson, Fed Ex Freight, Inc. Veteran member Wayne Smith, AAA Cooper Transportation, was asked to serve another term.
6. SMMC taps George Jones Alabama Driver of the Year
Longtime Evergreen Transport, Inc. employee George Jones earned the Alabama Trucking Association’s Driver of the Year honor for his commitment to industry safety and professionalism in a career that has spanned five decades. Jones and several other individuals and trucking fleets were presented awards at ATA’s Safety & Maintenance Management Council Fleet Safety Awards held March 24 near Birmingham.
5. Wayne Watkins elected ATA Chairman of the Board
Last summer, the Alabama Trucking Association selected Birmingham trucking executive Wayne Watkins as its top elected official for fiscal year 2014-‘15. Watkins, 61, was installed as the Association’s Chairman of the Board of Directors at a ceremony at the group’s headquarters in Montgomery on June 24.
4. Gail Cooper wins H. Chester Webb Award
At its Annual Meeting and Convention held April 24-26 in Destin, Fla., the Alabama Trucking Association gave Boyd Bros. Transportation CEO Gail Cooper the H. Chester Webb Award for Distinguished Service, the highest award for an ATA member. Cooper's contributions to trucking are many. For nearly 30 years she has worked for the family trucking business, becoming its CEO in 2000, and guiding it to become one of the most successful and respected trucking firms in the country. In 2010, she was elected as this Association’s Chairman of the Board of Directors. She is the first and only woman to hold the office in the Association’s 76-year history.
3. Former Chairman Bill Watson dies
Former Alabama Trucking Association Chairman of the Board William (Bill) Watson died August 3 after a brief illness at his home in Anniston. He was 85. Watson was a beloved and respected member of the Association who served as its Chairman in 2005, sitting on numerous committees and task forces. He also received the H. Chester Webb Award for Distinguished Service in 2000.
2. Court rules state can’t tax property used outside its borders
In March, the Circuit Court of Talladega County rendered a judgment limiting the collection of Alabama property taxes on Alabama motor carriers involved in interstate commerce to miles driven in the state. ATA officials said that ruling will result in significant tax savings for Alabama motor carriers that log miles outside the state. Preliminary analyses by ATA attorneys, indicate that some Alabama motor carriers could save more than $100,000 a year. The ruling applies to taxes collected in arrears for 2012 and 2013 and for taxes to be collected for 2014 forward.
1. Feds suspend 34-hour restart provision
As expected, President Obama signed the 2015 Omnibus Appropriations Bill into law on Dec. 16, and as a result officially suspended the two restrictions on the use of the 34-hour restart. Industry officials say that federal data shows that the accident rate for trucks is higher during morning peak traffic, one of the reasons the 34-hour restart requirement in the federal hours of service rule was suspended pending further study.