Special Coverage



Perspective: The Past Year Has Proven the Value of Trucking

'We Are an Industry of Doers, Problem Solvers and Risk Takers,' Writes Outgoing ATA Chairman

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Four decades in trucking have shown me how much opportunity this industry creates. From the customers we serve to the people we employ and the families they support, trucking delivers endless opportunities to countless communities and enterprises that depend on the supply chains we move.

Over the past 12 months, I had the extraordinary opportunity to serve as chairman of American Trucking Associations. As my tenure concludes, I am left with heightened appreciation for who we are as an industry and the holistic impact we have on society.

My duties as chairman took me across the country and around the globe, where I met the people whose impressive stories form the mosaic of our great industry. Through the lens of these human connections, I saw how deeply woven trucking is into the fabric of America. Multigenerational owners of trucking companies large and small. Hundreds of drivers and other humble heroes whose work keeps America moving forward.

I came into this assignment with great optimism for our industry’s future. Now, more than ever, I believe our nation’s future and prosperity is inextricably linked to trucking’s future.

Dan Van Alstine

Van Alstine 

I had the privilege to attend the State of the Union address in February, where I was struck by how many issues in the president’s speech are core to trucking — including infrastructure investment, ocean shipping reform and energy policy. The pandemic elevated trucking to the top of our public consciousness, and it’s clear that we remain squarely in Washington’s center of gravity and decision-making process.

Look no further than climate and the growing push toward vehicle electrification. How this issue unfolds in the coming years will have a profound effect on how trucking operates and on our ability to move the bulk of our economy’s freight. On this issue and others, America’s success is contingent on trucking’s success; you simply cannot have one without the other. That is why we must influence and lead.

We launched the Clean Freight Coalition to educate policymakers and the public about trucking’s incredible record of reducing emissions over the past three decades, and to advocate for sensible policies that support environmental goals without disrupting the supply chain. This coalition of freight transportation stakeholders continues to grow in membership, reach and impact.

In July, I traveled with the CFC to Washington to meet with lawmakers on key committees, and also with a joint office established between the U.S. departments of Transportation and Energy, to oversee the government’s charging infrastructure build-out. In August, I participated in a roundtable on the topic hosted by Sen. Pete Ricketts (R-Neb).

In these meetings, we stressed technology-neutral solutions available today that can dramatically reduce emissions. We must also offer carriers incentives to modernize fleets by eliminating the World War I-era federal excise tax on heavy-duty trucks, which serves as a significant barricade to investment.

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Lawsuit abuse reform is another issue in which ATA is leading. It cuts to the heart of what we want fairness and justice to mean in this country. Attempts by the plaintiff bar to pervert civil justice into a profit center must end. There is no place for Jackpot Justice in American courtrooms. We continue to make progress with common-sense reforms to restore balance and fairness to highway accident litigation, with major victories in Iowa and Florida over the past year.

We are an industry of doers, problem solvers and risk takers. We don’t create algorithms designed to hook people to screens. What we do every day matters in the most important of ways: ensuring grocery stores are stocked with food, hospitals are supplied with medicine and oxygen, manufacturing sites are equipped with steel and raw materials, and construction sites with lumber. We deliver a standard of living enjoyed across our great country. Our success is America’s success.

That is why this association is so important. Our collective voice must be heard in the state and federal halls of power. My company, Ruan, was instrumental in the founding of ATA 90 years ago. I am honored to have carried on that great tradition in serving as its chairman. This opportunity, and the important work being done by ATA, fills me with both hope and confidence about the trucking industry’s future as well as America’s.