Looking back, moving forward

A HINT of nostalgia hung in the air during National Tank Truck Carriers' 57th annual conference and tank truck equipment show May 9-11 in Chicago, Illinois. However, the conference program kept members focused firmly on the present and future.

Attendance topped 500 NTTC members, associates, suppliers, and guests. It was one of the largest turnouts in recent years, according to John Conley, NTTC vice-president. Suppliers displayed a wide array of products at the 54 booths in the exhibit hall.

Included among attendees were 18 past chairmen of the association who attended this year's meeting, in part, to honor President Cliff Harvison, who is retiring at the end of the year after more than 40 years at NTTC. He was president during 33 of those 40 years. Harvison will be succeeded by Conley.

A special tribute to Harvison and his wife, Sandy, highlighted the Allied Committee for the Trucking Industry reception and dinner dance on May 11.

On the conference side, Martin Labbe, president of Martin Labbe Associates, delivered an upbeat assessment on the US economy and the near-term outlook for tank truck carriers. He said the economy is much stronger than many people believe, and trucking companies are benefiting from tight capacity. However, challenges are mounting, including higher fuel costs, higher prices for new vehicles, and growing driver shortages.

Annette Sandberg, administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, provided a detailed review of legislative and regulatory issues that will have an impact on tank truck carriers. She discussed highway-funding legislation, hours of service, hazardous materials transport security, hazardous materials transport permitting, tanker rollovers, and truck driver use of seatbelts.

Data used by the Department of Transportation to justify a proposal to require purging systems for exposed piping (wetlines) on petroleum trailers was called into question by Clyde Richard, Accident Analysis Inc. He pointed out that DOT has done no real research on the potential for wetlines accidents.

Security issues drew a lot of attention. Doug Bacon, Integrated Biometric Technology, and Richard Moscowitz, American Trucking Associations, provided contrasting updates on the hazardous materials driver background checks. Tom Moses of the Spill Center reviewed details of the FMCSA's 24-month transport security study.

Barrie Montague, Ontario Trucking Association, gave a briefing on the latest trucking-related regulatory activities in Canada. He reviewed new cargo tank design requirements that are about to be adopted in Canada and how that could affect US carriers.

Barbara J Windsor, president and chief executive officer of Hahn Transportation Inc, was elected 2005-2006 chairman. Windsor previously was Region I vice-chairman.

NTTC's 58th annual conference and tank truck equipment show is planned for May 7-9, 2006 in San Antonio.

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