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Last year, when I accepted my peers’ support to become the 75th chairman of American Trucking Associations, I had no idea what would be in store for me.
The first few months were filled with the usual: traveling, representing ATA at our state associations and other groups, and working with our federation to advance the interests of our industry. And then, everything changed.
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck the United States in March, it forced change; change in how we shopped, how we work, how our children learn.
It also changed Americans’ perspective about our industry. Almost overnight, truckers became frontline heroes — delivering desperately needed groceries, medicine and supplies to hospitals and communities across the country.
We could answer this call because even as the world changed, our core values — safety, service, professionalism, dedication — remained. From the earliest days of this crisis, our trucks kept moving thanks to the hardworking men and women behind the wheel and in the garage.
Representing these heroes as your chairman has been a unique honor, and made for a memorable year.
I was tremendously proud to tell Congress — via Zoom — about how the work our drivers do every day helped the country navigate the pandemic.
We also pushed for important regulatory relief, telling trucking’s story to President Donald Trump and lawmakers, making sure they understood that trucking’s agenda for success is America’s agenda for success. New hours-of-service rules, the long-awaited Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, pandemic relief, regulatory flexibility and other victories secured by ATA have made it possible for our industry to adapt, and in some cases thrive, in this new normal.
When states began closing rest areas, ATA and our state partners worked to keep these vital facilities open. When drivers needed face masks or hand sanitizer, ATA stepped in to ensure our frontline workers were protected.
But not every challenge we faced revolved around the pandemic. I was so pleased last year when ATA President Chris Spear threw down the gauntlet on an issue that is important to me personally: tort and legal reform. Frivolous and fraudulent lawsuits are costing our industry millions of dollars — and sometimes even costing us companies. It’s time to stop trial lawyers from lining their pockets at the expense of hardworking truckers. I truly believe this is a worthwhile fight, and it’s one we can win.
We’ve already seen victories at the state level, including in my home state of Louisiana. I urge you all to keep up the good work and keep in the fight. Your support of our legal reform efforts has been important, just like your support of ATA has been. We can accomplish so much when we work together. Rising to meet the challenges of these unprecedented times is what truckers do.
We’ll do it again as our annual Management Conference & Exhibition goes virtual. Seeing my fellow members at MCE is always one of the highlights of my year. But ATA, like our industry, is flexible and resilient. Bringing the content and unity of MCE to members across the country virtually will surely make for a unique and powerful demonstration of how trucking responds to challenges.
We really have no choice. Trucking is essential to the economy and to our country; this year has proven that beyond a shadow of a doubt. And ATA, and our federation, is essential to our industry.
This industry is diverse, and at times we can differ on the route forward, but when we are united, we can move mountains.
Thank you for your support in my year as ATA chairman. Stay healthy. I look forward to seeing you all when we can come together safely in the future.
Guillot is president of Triple G Express Inc. and Southeastern Motor Freight, carriers based in the New Orleans area. ATA is the largest trade federation in the trucking industry and has headquarters in Arlington, Va., as well as affiliated associations in every state. ATA owns Transport Topics.
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