ATA Conference And Federal Safety Updates

The American Trucking Associations’ annual Management Conference and Exhibition at the Orange County Convention Center kicked off in late-October and there were a lot of announcements and new technologies to evaluate.

Let’s take a closer look at everything you need to know regarding the world of trucking and truck driver safety and safety technology.

Truck Driver Wellness

A truck driver wellness app was announced. Called Rolling Strong, the app was created by a company that creates and manages wellness programs for trucking and transportation companies. They also cover owner-operators who are looking for more assistance on operating with health and safety in mind.

The app assists truck drivers in making health decisions while they are on the road. Up to now, there have been few innovative options regarding the topic of health and wellness for truckers, but all that is starting to change.

The Rolling Strong app is designed to help truckers make better health decisions and encourage them to adopt a healthy lifestyle. It also has built-in mechanisms designed to be compatible with a fleet’s current safety management program and is available in both iOS and Android formats.

Personal Safety Systems

Truck drivers will also benefit from an announced personal safety system. A company who provides cargo safety systems has branched out to include truck drivers. Normally, the company provides around-the-clock response for safety, security or medial issues through the simple use of a button push and a key fob entered into the dash.

The technology is designed to help fleets take a more proactive approach to truck driver safety and protection. Both known and unknown safety issues come up almost every day, so having a service on the back end to help manage these situations could be incredibly beneficial.

Finally, technologies like these go a long way towards increasing truck driver recruiting and retention efforts. Professional truck drivers are more engaged when they know their fleets are investing in technologies that help them increase safety and security levels.

Truck Driver Exploitation Bill

There have also been moves in Washington where truck driver safety is concerned. House Democrats have introduced two federal bills aimed at preventing port trucking companies from exploiting their workforce.

While the problem isn’t widespread, there have been instances where lease-to-own contracts basically force truck drivers to work non-stop for what amounts to almost minimum wage.

Called the Port Drivers’ Bill of Rights Act of 2017, the potential law lays down a basic framework for ports who employ truck drivers in daily operations. Whether it be fair pay, labor standards, or otherwise, the bill provides protection from what it calls “exploitative truck lease or rental arrangements.”

According to Grace Napolitano, a Democrat from California, “For truck drivers to be treated fairly and paid fairly, [the proposed law] is a no-brainer. We thought [the companies] would do it without legislation, but that hasn’t happened. So we had to put it in writing.”

Under the proposed bill, federal regulators would be required to create and deploy task forces that would investigate port companies, look closely at employment and lease contracts and potentially weed out port companies that are taking advantage of their truck drivers.

All of this stems from a report produced by USA Today, which showed that dozens of trucking companies operating in Southern California avoided having to pay for their new trucks by forcing their truck drivers on company-sponsored lease programs that were heavily tilted in the fleet’s favor.

Whether or not the bill makes it through a Republican Congress and on to the president’s desk is another story. While time will tell, the fact that people are talking about it raises this issue’s profile, which is only good for truck drivers affected by it.