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During my four-decade career in trucking, I have had the privilege of working with thousands of talented professionals in all corners of the country. As the incoming chair of the American Trucking Association, I am honored to represent so many incredible people who make up this amazing industry. I have always believed that the trucking industry is the connective tissue of not only our economy, but America as a whole, and our people are the main reason why.
By focusing on them, I believe we can strengthen that connective tissue. Getting more people to consider trucking as a first-choice career, especially drivers and technicians, is key and will be one of the top priorities under my presidency. This means expanding the reach of populations that have historically been underrepresented, including youth, urban communities, minorities, and women. That’s why efforts like the recently launched ATA Women In Motion program matter as we work to change common misconceptions about who can be a professional truck driver.
We must also address the issues that matter most to our people. This includes increasing access to secure truck parking. Drivers, and women in particular, have made it abundantly clear how much of a problem the lack of parking is for their work, safety and well-being. We can reduce these burdens by continuing to advocate for expansion projects through bipartisan grants to states under the Infrastructure Act and advancing federal legislation that provides more funding for truck parking.
To strengthen this connective tissue, we must also work to expand the reach of the ATA federation. Our association has secured historic victories in the past 12 months, including the passage of the Federal Infrastructure Investment Bill and the Ocean Shipping Reform Act, as well as the Supreme Court rejection of the nationwide vaccine mandate and Rhode Island’s truck-only tolling scheme. These wins demonstrate the critical role our association plays in implementing public policies that support the growth and profitability of our industry. They became possible thanks to the active and joint participation of our member companies and partners of the federation.
There are many ways for our members to stay engaged. Attend our events and political meetings. Draw on the many educational and informational resources provided by the ATA. Recruit new members. Join the call in Washington. Host a member of Congress for a final visit. Contribute to the Truck PAC. Participate in the American Transportation Research Institute and ATA surveys so we stay armed with real-world data to educate government officials. Engage with the media and our branding programs to help tell the story of our industry. All of these activities provide value to the association and help generate a return on investment for your membership. All of them have contributed to making our past and future advocacy victories possible.
It was great to reconnect with so many of our members last week in San Diego at the ATA Management Conference and Expo. The energy was palpable and reflected the overwhelming power we possess as an active and united association. When we come together, we multiply our resources and find new clarity in our purpose. Our ties are growing stronger, and so is our industry.
As we move forward, let us be proud of all that we have recently achieved together and remember that the source of our success begins with each other. The enabling force is people – people aligned, focused and determined. By staying connected, we will successfully navigate a divisive political landscape that risks tearing our country apart with ideology and an unwillingness to find common ground. By doing so, we ensure that the connective tissue of our nation—the American trucking industry—has the strength to withstand whatever turbulence the future may hold.
Dan Van Alstyne is president and chief operating officer of Ruan Transportation Management Systems.
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