Working with industry associations to shape legislation and regulations before they get passed is like doing preventive maintenance on the business environment that the trucking industry operates in.
There is a lot that goes on outside of the direct control of a fleet’s management team that impacts the conditions and constraints of the business environment. From taxes and tariffs that influence the economy to investments in infrastructure and incentives for new technology—legislators and regulators have the power to shape the terrain beneath our feet.
Do you ever wish that you had the opportunity to speak up for your business before budgets get allocated, regulations get amended, or laws get passed? If you’re like most managers in the trucking industry, you probably have at some point. But it can be tough to get the attention you deserve from the people who need to hear what you have to say.
How do individual trucking companies make their voices heard when more than 95% of the industry is made up of small fleets with fewer than 20 trucks?
9+ Associations Doing Preventive Maintenance on the Trucking Industry
There are trucking industry associations in every state, a handful of associations that represent regions of the country, as well as national organizations that either advocate for the industry as a whole or focus on the issues that are important to a particular sector of the industry. If you work in our industry, whether it’s as a driver, a maintenance technician, or in an administrative role—you should take advantage of the resources these groups offer and support them in whatever ways you can.
As an industry, we move more than 70% of the nation’s freight tonnage and generate nearly $800 billion in revenues. We pay over $40 billion in highway-user taxes and employ 7.8 million people. When we speak with one voice, we make ourselves heard.
American Trucking Associations is the national federation of the 50 associations that represent the industry in each state. The ATA is organized into four conferences that address issues specific to the interests of companies working in Agriculture and Food Transportation, Automobile Carriage, Government Freight, and Intermodal Carriage. The ATA also has advisory councils dedicated to Accounting & Finance, Safety, Technology & Maintenance, and Transportation Security.
The ATA operates at the national level with the stated goal of providing members with “the answers, advice and tools they need to grow and support their trucking businesses”.
The Trucker to Trucker Blog has put together a handy list of state and regional associations that advocate for the industry across the nation. The list includes all of the state-level affiliates of ATA as well as others that focus on specific sectors or issues.
NAFA doesn’t focus exclusively on the trucking industry but they do provide Fleet Managers with a resource for professional education, advocacy, and networking. NAFA is organized into chapters that represent geographic areas. The association covers the United States and Canada but offers worldwide virtual memberships as well.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association was formed in 1973 to serve as an advocate for the unique needs of more than 160,000 independent business people working in our industry. OOIDA keeps an eye on the legislative agenda on the national level and in all 50 states. It also provides educational resources and business tools to its members.
Truckers Service Association addresses a very specific need, but one that is crucial to Owner/Operators. If you are an Owner-Operator that is permanently leased to a motor carrier, membership in the TSA allows you to leverage the collective purchasing power of 7,000 members to get group pricing and benefits comparable to what large motor carriers enjoy from their insurance providers. The TSA gives members access to discounts on other goods and services as well. It also awards scholarships to members and their dependents.
In light of the ongoing driver shortage across the industry, there might not be any other area that is more important to trucking’s future than driver training. Commercial Vehicle Training Association was founded in 1996 to represent the interests of driver training programs. Schools, carriers, and industry organizations can become members of the association.
The CVSA works with states, provinces, territories, and federal governments in the United States, Mexico, and Canada to commercial motor vehicle safety. Trucking companies, industry organizations, suppliers, and vendors, as well as trade associations and training programs are eligible for Class III Associate Member status that gives them access to the decision-making processes of this important association.
The Women in Trucking Association has been around for less than a decade but it has made huge progress on the mission to “encourage the employment of women in the trucking industry, promote their accomplishments, and minimize the obstacles faced by women working in the industry”. Any business committed to diversity and equity in the industry can make a donation, sponsor their work, or become a partner. Perhaps the best way to support their cause is to hire and promote talented women in your own organization.
The TCA has been around since 1938 to represent the interest of truckload carriers across the country. Between dry van, refrigerated trailers, flatbeds, tankers, and intermodal containers—truckload carriers move 75% of the freight that gets moved by truck in this country. The organization represents more than 200,000 drivers and 190,000 trucks.
TRALA represents more than 500 companies in the renting and leasing sector of the industry. Together the association’s members account for more than 40% of the purchases of new class 3-8 trucks each year. The association also accepts associate members from companies that supply materials, products, and services that are vital to the interests of their members.
Be an Active Member of the Industry: Help Make We Can Keep on Truckin’
It’s always equal parts fun and nerve-wracking to work on an article like this one. It’s fun because it is a good excuse to check-in on all the associations that we’ve gotten to know through our work in the industry. The list above is made up of groups whose work we support and appreciate. And that’s why writing an article like this one can be nerve-wracking. What if we left somebody out? We don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings!
Like we said at the outset of this post—we believe that participating in industry associations is a form of preventive maintenance that works on keeping the industry healthy instead of waiting to heal it when it gets sick. FleetPal is all about preventive maintenance so we wanted to share some great resources with our readers. But we definitely don’t mean it as a slight if we left somebody off the list who should be there. We invite readers to share information on other industry associations that they value in the comments so that we can get to work on making more friends in the industry we love.