Perspective: Putting Our People First | Transportation topics
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During my four decades in the trucking career, I’ve had the privilege of working with thousands of talented professionals across the country. As the new president of the American Trucking Associations, I am honored to have the opportunity to represent so many incredible people who make up this incredible industry. I’ve always believed that the trucking industry is the connective tissue of not just our economy, but America as a whole, and our people are the ultimate reason for that.
By focusing on them, I believe we can strengthen this connective tissue. Getting more people to see trucking as a career of choice – especially drivers and technicians – is critical and will be a high priority under my presidency. This means extending our reach to populations that have been historically underrepresented, including youth, urban communities, minorities and women. That’s why efforts like the ATA’s recently launched Women In Motion program are important, as we work to change common misconceptions about who a professional truck driver can be.
We must also tackle the issues that matter most to our people. This includes expanding access to secure truck parking. Drivers, and especially women, have made it clear how difficult the lack of parking options is for their jobs, safety and well-being. We can reduce these burdens by continuing to advocate for expansion projects through bipartisan grants for state infrastructure laws and advancing federal legislation that devotes more funds to truck parking.
To strengthen this connective tissue, we must also work to expand the reach of the ATA federation. Our association has won historic victories over the past 12 months, including the passage of a federal infrastructure investment bill and the Shipping Reform Act, and one-term defeats National Vaccination in the Supreme Court and a truck-only toll system in Rhode Island. These victories demonstrate the crucial role our association plays in achieving public policy that supports the growth and profitability of our industry. They were made possible thanks to the active and collaborative commitment of our member companies and our partner federations.
There are myriad ways for our members to stay engaged. Attend our political events and meetings. Take advantage of the many educational and informational resources provided by the ATA. Recruit new members. Join a call on Washington. Host a congressman for a tour of the terminal. Contribute to Truck PAC. Participate in the American Transportation Research Institute and ATA surveys so we remain armed with real-world data to educate government officials. Collaborate with the media and our image programs to help tell the story of our industry. All of these actions bring value to the association and help generate a return on investment for your members. All have a role to play in making our past and future advocacy victories possible.
It was wonderful reconnecting with so many of our members last week in San Diego for the ATA Management Conference & Exhibition. The energy was palpable and reflected the awesome power we wield as an active and unified 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’s be proud of all we’ve recently accomplished together and remember that the source of our success begins with each other. The enabling power 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. In doing so, we are ensuring that the connective tissue of our nation – the American trucking industry – has the strength to withstand whatever turbulence the future throws at us.
Dan Van Alstine is president and chief operating officer of Ruan Transportation Management Systems.
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