Buttigieg Presses Safety at ATA’s MCE

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SAN DIEGO — Before wrapping up his visit at American Trucking Associations’ annual conference, Secretary Pete Buttigieg offered his views on a career in the industry.

Asked why an individual should pursue trucking, the secretary told reporters, “I think the message is this is a career with great earning potential and great importance to the country and to the economy — one that the country increasingly recognizes as absolutely essential. And that can be the basis for supporting a family through an entire working career.”

Speaking soon after his keynote address before an ATA Management Conference & Exhibition audience Oct. 25, the secretary added, “But also that there are some things that make this a challenging career,  make it tough. and we’re working very hard to address those.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg

"There are some things that make [truck driving] a challenging career, make it tough. and we’re working very hard to address those," Transporation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said at MCE on Oct. 25. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)

“So that also if you’re entering the career at a time like this, you’re entering at a time when my department and a lot of others are looking at issues from the availability of parking to the way people get paid, and everything in between, in order to make sure that it’s a better career than it’s ever been,” he continued.

Top Five Industry Concerns

1. Fuel Prices

2. Driver Shortage

3. Truck Parking 

4. Driver Compensation

5. Economy

Source: American Transportation Research Institute

Recruiting and retaining drivers into the trucking workforce remains a priority for freight stakeholders. The secretary acknowledged the workforce challenge during an address to the conference in which he cited new ATA data determining the industry is short about 78,000 drivers, down slightly from last year’s estimate of 80,000. An industrywide driver shortage ranked second on the 2022 list of top trucking issues published by the American Transportation Research Institute.

“There are a number of underlying factors contributing to the driver shortage, including a retiring driver workforce, the challenging lifestyle, and regulatory pressures leading some drivers to leave the industry,” per ATRI. “Industry stakeholders believe there are multiple ways to reduce the shortage including lowering the legal driving age to 18, improving the driving lifestyle — by expanding truck parking and reducing detention at customer facilities — and recruiting more women to the profession.”

The country’s top transportation officer pointed to programs meant to expand access to parking for truckers, as well as outreach for women and underrepresented groups. He also stressed greater safety on the nation’s roadways and engaged with drivers at the ATA conference who exemplified the industry’s safety culture.

The Week Ahead (all times Eastern)

Nov. 1, 2 p.m.: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation hosts a panel with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky titled, “Preparing for the Next Wave of COVID-19.”

Nov. 2, 3 p.m.: The National Association for Business Economics hosts a panel titled, “2023 U.S. Freight Trucking Market Outlook.” Speakers include Dean Croke, principal analyst at DAT Freight & Analytics.

Freight Corridor

On infrastructure matters: Spotlighting the Bay Area.

Legislative Docket

Robin Hutcheson


The Women of Trucking Advisory Board, an initiative established by the $1 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, is scheduled to meet for the first time in November. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Chief Robin Hutcheson made the announcement at the American Trucking Associations’ 2022 Management Conference & Exhibition.

FMCSA describes the board as a forum for “reviewing opportunities to enhance safety, training, mentorship and education for women in the trucking industry.” Said Hutcheson: “We are very excited to kick this off. Equity is a priority for us and it is both for the Biden-Harris administration and for the [U.S.] Department of Transportation.”

Midterms ’22

Sen. Mark Kelly (left), Blake Masters

Sen. Mark Kelly (left) and Republican challenger Blake Masters

With Election Day fast approaching, The Cook Political Report is classifying the Arizona Senate contest as a “toss up.” Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Kelly, a member of the committee on highway policy, has been unable to shake off a challenge from GOP nominee Blake Masters, a venture capitalist. The political ratings firm had been positioning Kelly as a likely winner in the race. However, they have pointed to Masters’ boost from a coalition of conservative advocates as well as donors from his business background.

The challenger, on his campaign website, is pitching a sense of urgency: “I grew up in Arizona, and I hate what is happening to it. I put my business career on hold to run for the U.S. Senate because I uniquely understand the modern threats that we face today.”

The Republican’s newfound momentum has the potential to threaten the incumbent’s chances. At stake is governing control of the chamber next year.

Favorite Video

All gas stations are local.

Favorite Tweet

An interview with Chris Wallace featuring Secretary Pete.

The Last Word

Our industry indisputably enables the standard of living that we all enjoy.

ATA Chairman Dan Van Alstine on Oct. 25

Dan Van Alstine

We publish Mondays when Congress is in session. We also are publishing weekly during the 2022 midterm elections. See previous installments of Capitol Agenda here. Email emulero@ttnews.com with tips. Follow us @eugenemulero and @transporttopics.

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