Heavy Duty Trucking

DEC 2014

The Fleet Business Authority

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50 HDT • DECEMBER 2014 www.truckinginfo.com fuel-efficient newer equipment, and some believe newer trucks will help them attract and retain drivers. "Look for locked-up build slots for 2015 for both trucks and trail- ers," Kemmer says. "Larger fleets are placing orders earlier than normal, so available build slots will be at a premium for those that wait. There will be less flexibility for preferred delivery dates for new equipment, even for trailers." But Noel Perry warns that the industry could be heating up too fast. "This recovery has avoided the normal recovery over-order of trucks. One might be building. If so that means the next downturn will have the usual big under-order." The global economy 6 One thing that could put a damper on all this, Perry warns, is the global economic situation. Europe and Japan are already in recessions, he says, and several South American coun- tries (Argentina, Venezuela) are in dire straits. Russia is highly vulner- able to falling oil prices. "If the problems should spread to China, it could drag down the U.S." In addition, Perry says, there's the potential for a global financial crisis. "The bubble of huge overhangs of debt in most global economies will could burst in 2015," which could "infect the U.S. banking system already stressed by the Federal Reserves' highly stimulatory poli- cies," potentially leading to another recession. Funding for infrastructure 7 Will Republican control of both houses of Congress will change the pattern of short- term patches designed to pass on the difficult task of long- term funding for roads and bridges? Funding is the keystone of the More scrutiny of driver screening 8 As fleets scramble to recruit drivers and speed them through the screening process, Batts predicts that more car- riers will get into trouble with the Federal Trade Commis- sion and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and face more class action lawsuits aver failure to disclose and/or receive authorization for background screen- ing and disparate impact against minorities in hiring. She says local and state govern- ments will make it harder to get criminal histories and use them in the hiring decision without there be- ing a direct relationship to the job. Earlier this year, Swift Transpor- tation agreed to pay $4.4 million to settle a federal class action lawsuit, alleging that it violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act for several years by not informing driver ap- plicants they had a right to get a free copy of background check reports used by Swift and could dispute the information on those reports. "I think the Fair Credit Reporting Act will continue to give trucking companies fits in 2015," agrees Rob Moseley, an attorney with Smith Moore Leatherwood specializing in transportation issues. "Even the more sophisticated carriers are doing this wrong." Increased use of data 9 "Big data" is the buzzword, and fleets of all sizes will only use more of it in 2015. The information can come from many sources, both inside and outside of the fleet, and even in real-time from the truck, as in telematics. On-dash video camera systems are providing an additional type of data to add into the analytics equation. Rich Zambroski, truck excel- lence manager at Element Fleet legislation that Congress is supposed to pass by the end of next May, when the current federal highway program expires. The program is running on a 10-month extension of a two-year bill funded by money scrounged from the general treasury – the 12th such stopgap in the past five years. The program is congenitally underfunded because the fuel taxes that feed the Highway Trust Fund cannot generate enough money to keep up with demands on our infra- structure. That's partly because ve- hicles are getting more fuel-efficient, and partly because demands on the system are growing while the tax has not been increased since 1993. Everyone agrees that something must be done. A modern, well- maintained infrastructure is crucial to U.S. competitiveness in the global economy. Suggested solutions range from increasing fuel taxes and indexing them to inf lation, the approach that the trucking industry favors, to getting the federal government mostly out of transportation and devolving the problem to the states, which some conservative Republi- cans favor. In between these extremes, ideas include changes in methods of taxa- tion such as a sales tax instead of the traditional per-gallon tax, plus such add-ons as infrastructure banks and increased use of private investment money. Another alternative is the idea advanced by the Obama administra- tion and Republican leaders to use corporate tax reform to generate a large, one-time infusion. "I think the Fair Credit Reporting Act will continue to give trucking companies fits in 2015." – Rob Moseley, Smith Moore Leatherwood top trends

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