On May 6, the U.S. State Department of State issued a security warning for U.S. citizens traveling to and living in Mexico, but no official warnings have been issued for truckers.
— Jill Dunn
ATA: Freight hauling to grow slowly
As the United States economy bounces back from the recession, freight transportation also is on the threshold for a sustained recovery, the American Trucking Associations reports in its newly released “ATA U.S. Freight Transportation Forecast to 2021.”
IHS Global Insight and Martin Labbe Associates, which contracted with ATA to conduct the study, project that by 2021 total freight tonnage will grow 25 percent and total freight transportation revenue will grow 69 percent. However, that positive outlook is set against the backdrop of the recession; the nation’s freight pool contracted by almost 12.5 percent in 2009.
The trucking industry can expect its share of total tonnage to increase gradually from 68 percent in 2009 to 70.7 percent by 2021. Measured by revenue, trucks hauled 81.9 percent of freight tonnage last year.
“There are certainly some risks, but I think better days do lie ahead for the freight hauling business,” says ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello.
The report also forecasts railroads’ share of total tonnage will slip slightly from 14.7 percent to 14.1 percent by 2021. Air, water and pipeline freight are predicted to grow over the forecast period.
— Staff reports
Agency action expected on sleep apnea
Regulators are likely to take steps toward sleep disorder screening as early as this year, officials said at last month’s Sleep Apnea & Trucking Conference in Baltimore.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is expected to incorporate new sleep disorder suggestions into a soon-to-be-released online medical examiner handbook, said National Transportation Safety Board Vice Chairman Christopher Hart. He also said he believes FMCSA will complete a revised examination report form by September to include the assessment of sleep disorders, and publish a best practices guide for physical examiners.
Mary Gunnels, director of FMCSA’s medical programs, said the trucking industry can expect “more emphasis” on sleep apnea, though she did not specify when or what changes might take place. She acknowledged that sleep apnea among truckers is a “public health concern” and that because of the nature of their job, drivers often suffer from multiple health problems.
Hart said that higher awareness and better ways to diagnose and treat sleep apnea will ensure that “most everyone treated will return to service.” He said NTSB made recommendations to FMCSA and other agencies to implement a program to identify people who are at high risk of obstructive sleep apnea and develop guidance for drivers, employers and physicians.