Monthly Edition - November 2020
MMTA Asks Mills for Vaccination Distribution Clarification

Announcements recently from Pfizer and Moderna announcing the potential efficacy of their respective COVID-19 vaccines is certainly welcome news. As we prepare for global and local distribution, understanding initial supplies will likely be limited, we checked into reports that the Maine CDC has published the four phases that vaccines will be delivered in our state.

According to the Maine CDC’s COVID Vaccination Plan, last updated on October 16, 2020 there will be four phases broken down as follows:

MMTA Staff Changes

We regret to report that MMTA’s Membership Services Coordinator, Makala Ouellette, will be leaving us next week to pursue other opportunities. While we wish Makala well and offer her our sincere appreciation for her great work over the years, this leaves a hole in the services we offer to our members.

At least for the interim, please contact Victoria Evans with questions that might have otherwise been directed to Makala. Also feel free to call the main number and Shirley will direct you to the right person.

In other staff changes, we are pleased to announce the hiring of Kari Williams as a Trailer Registration Specialist. Kari will play an integral role on the best trailer registrations team in the business, offering friendly, convenient, fast and inexpensive annual and long-term trailer registrations. Welcome to the MMTA team Kari!
Trucking group calls out new TV show that depicts OTR trucker as serial killer
CDL Life

A major trucking industry group has called a new television series “disturbing and upsetting” for its portrayal of a truck driver who is also a serial killer.

The new drama series “Big Sky” is set to premiere on ABC on November 17.

ABC offered the following synopsis of the series that centers on the trucking industry:

“From visionary storyteller David E. Kelley (Big Little Lies) comes Big Sky, a thriller created by Kelley who will write multiple episodes and serve as showrunner in its premiere season. Private detectives Cassie Dewell and Cody Hoyt join forces with his estranged wife and ex-cop, Jenny Hoyt, to search for two sisters who have been kidnapped by a truck driver on a remote highway in Montana. But when they discover that these are not the only girls who have disappeared in the area, they must race against the clock to stop the killer before another woman is taken.”

MMTA Editor’s Note:

We have contacted both ABC affiliates in Maine (Portland and Bangor) to bring this egregious issue to their attention. We asked them to do a local story on the unfair portrayal of the trucking industry at a time when our truckers are working hard to combat human trafficking and delivering needed medicine, food and supplies during the pandemic.

We further offered them resources on our industry’s efforts working with Truckers Against Trafficking and the ATA’s web page with additional resources and request for complimentary airtime to run advertisements that fairly represent truckers and educate viewers about what the industry is doing to combat human trafficking.
Insurance costs jump into ATRI’s Top 10 industry issues as driver issues retain top spots

Despite the numerous challenges faced by the trucking industry during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the driver shortage is still considered the top issue facing the industry, according to the American Transportation Research Institute’s annual Top 10 Trucking Industry Issues survey.

A perceived shortage of available drivers has now ranked as the top industry issue for four consecutive years. ATRI says a number of drivers have left the industry due to the FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse taking effect this year, along with drivers retiring or leaving the industry due to COVID-related health concerns, exacerbating driver availability challenges that faced the industry in previous years.

The Reasons Behind Trucking's Rising Insurance Rates
Fleet Owner

The largest driver of increased rates right now is available insurance capacity. Distracted driving, the commercial truck driver shortage, nuclear verdicts, and litigation funding have also compounded the problem.

Over the last 10 years, commercial trucking insurance rates have skyrocketed. Despite those rate increases, however, insurance companies are experiencing losses, which means the transportation insurance industry is seeing continued deterioration and availability in capacity.

“We are in very challenged times with respect to transportation,” said Ryan Erickson, executive vice president at insurance brokerage firm McGriff, Seibels & Williams, during the American Trucking Associations (ATA) virtual Management Conference & Exhibition (MCE) on Oct. 21.

Erickson explained that 2019 marks the eighth consecutive year that the transportation-specific market sector has underperformed the overall property and casualty markets. He also pointed out that there have been underwriting losses from 2011 to 2019.

Fleets Make Strides Toward Diversifying Workforce, Panelists Say
Transport Topics

Identifying diversity and helping it grow throughout the trucking industry was the main focus in an Oct. 26 virtual panel discussion during American Trucking Associations’ Management Conference & Exhibition.

“Diversity has been a rallying cry across the country for decades, but the word has different meanings and different ways to implement for all of us,” said USA Truck CEO James Reed, who moderated the discussion titled, “Diversity in the Workplace.”

The panelists — Cari Baylor, president of Baylor Trucking; John Esparza, CEO of the Texas Trucking Association; Alphonso Lewis, professional truck driver with YRC Freight and America’s Road Team captain; and John Stomps, CEO of Total Transportation of Mississippi — spoke about their experiences dealing with race and the efforts they made to provide more inclusion in trucking.

Early Adopters of Electric Trucks Say Planning, Partnerships Are Crucial
Transport Topics

Truck makers are beginning to introduce battery-electric models, but successfully deploying this new breed of commercial vehicle requires fleets to manage a bevy of new considerations, including installation of charging equipment, coordination with utility companies and exploring government incentives.

Fleet and OEM executives addressed these important aspects of electric truck adoption during an Oct. 22 educational session at American Trucking Associations’ Management Conference & Exhibition, held virtually this year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Paul Rosa, senior vice president of procurement and fleet planning at Penske Truck Leasing, encouraged fleets interested in deploying electric trucks to “plan, plan and plan again.”

As one of the first steps, fleets must identify locations to install their charging stations and envision how the electric vehicles will interact with existing operations.

Notice To Extend Exemption From Renewal of the Hazardous Materials Endorsement Security Threat Assessment for Certain Individuals

TSA is extending the exemption from Renewal of the Hazardous Materials Endorsement Security Threat Assessment for Certain Individuals that TSA published on July 31, 2020 which was scheduled to expire on October 30, 2020, through December 31, 2020. Under this exemption, states may extend the expiration date of hazardous materials endorsements (HMEs) that expire on or after March 1, 2020, for 180 days, due to restrictions and business closures in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. If a state grants an extension, the individual with an expired HME must initiate the process of renewing his or her security threat assessment (STA) for the HME no later than 60 days before the end of the state-granted extension.

Federal partners, state licensing agencies and related associations report ongoing difficulties in timely renewal of expiring HMEs and asked TSA to consider extending the exemption until the end of calendar year 2020. TSA has determined it is in the public interest to extend the exemption through December 31, 2020, which aligns with similar waivers issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation. TSA may extend this exemption at a future date depending on the status of the COVID-19 crisis.

How COVID is Still Affecting the Supply Chain and Where We Go From Here
Heavy Duty Trucking

With a severe driver shortage and a supply chain still in chaos from pandemic-induced shifts in consumer behavior, one industry observer is warning of likely hoarding as we get into the holidays. Longer term, vaccine distribution is “THE driver” for broader economy recovery and the post-2021 outlook.

Paul Kroes, market insight leader for Thermo King, shared his perspective on the state of the trucking and freight market in a Nov. 10 webinar.

“The freight environment is very cyclical, as we all are painfully aware,” he said. The most recent cycle was extended by the “Trump bump,” tax cuts largely driven by the current administration that favored the trucking environment.

When times are good, he said, freight-hauling companies tend to put money into capital expenditures, resulting in more capacity, from an equipment standpoint, than the industry really needed. So coming into 2020, most observers expected it to be a “rebalancing” year, with anemic freight rates.

Pfizer Vaccine Road Map Shows Logistical, Financial Obstacles
Transport Topics

When Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE’s COVID-19 vaccine rolls off production lines, Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group Co. will be waiting to distribute it through a complex and costly system of deep-freeze airport warehouses, refrigerated vehicles and inoculation points across China.

After they reach vaccination centers, the shots must be thawed from minus 70 degrees Celsius (minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit) and injected within five days. If not, they go bad.

Then the herculean journey from warehouse freezer to rolled-up sleeve must be undertaken all over again — to deliver the second booster shot a month later.

The road map sketched out by the company, which has licensed the vaccine for Greater China, offers a glimpse into the enormous and daunting logistical challenges faced by those looking to deliver Pfizer’s experimental vaccine after it showed “extraordinary” early results from final stage trials, raising hopes of a potential end to the nearly yearlong pandemic.

We will keep MMTA members posted as new information comes in. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to email Tim, Randy or Brian if you have questions.