Web Enhances Association Services

July 1, 1999
By taking the opportunity to post web sites, industry associations and organizations are not only providing services for their members, but they are fulfilling

By taking the opportunity to post web sites, industry associations and organizations are not only providing services for their members, but they are fulfilling the definition for the word Internet. Their web sites are loaded with information to aid members in an interconnected and cooperative way. Links to other association addresses show there are mutual concerns that can be approached through reciprocal efforts.

At least two areas of information cross the industry as a whole: regulatory and safety. Both of those subjects are well covered on the association sites. Training seminars, programs, and specific courses are available. And for managers who may be working on a presentation, the sites can fill in the gap when statistics about trucking are needed.

Now that the new millennium is drawing near, it's time to have a memo posted that reads: "Think Internet." Some may choose to lie back and ignore the new highway, but those who wish to compete in the marketplace don't have that luxury.

Following is a review of several association web sites. There are hundreds more on the Web. Modern Bulk Transporter will be presenting others in the future. The Internet is there just waiting for people with mutual interests and concerns.

Newsworthy best defines the home page of the American Trucking Associations (ATA) www.trucking.org, Alexandria, Virginia. The page is packed with recent items about political actions affecting the industry, sessions conducted on safety in various parts of the United States, and Department of Transportation (DOT) news releases. Want to know the latest stock quote on your favorite company? Just click on the box and a link connects to a stock market reporting page.

Those are just a few of the trucking-related topics that can be found on the web site. Readers can even subscribe to a free service that will provide news via e-mail. The form is provided and requires only the subscriber's name and address.

A helpful addition is a site map that divides the index into sections for easy scanning. If more local information is sought, there is a button that opens the door to state trucking associations.

The ATA web site has introduced a new section, Safety Net, that presents topics on workplace safety, ergonomics, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations, and articles by ATA's safety expert, Stuart Flatrow.

Link categories include a professional services directory; calendar of events; federal, state, and local governments; trucking companies; industry suppliers; associations; universities; publications; vendors; fuel prices; financial sites; stock quotes; and world, national, and local news sources. It seems that if the information is out there, ATA has it in harness on its web site.

Members can view the pages through a password entry. If they don't have a password, one can be obtained by contacting the ATA membership department at 888-333-1759 or e-mailing via the web site.

One button sends visitors on their way to facts about The Maintenance Council. There, information can be found about upcoming meetings, various programs sponsored by the TMC, and publications, including position papers. One of the papers predicts what equipment users will want in future truck designs. A universal warranty claim form is now being developed, and visitors to the site can download the current draft.

Services offered by TMC can be reviewed, including guidelines for maintenance practices, vehicle specifications, preventive maintenance, antilock brake systems, and fuel economy. There are also training videos and manuals.

The Truckload Carriers Association, www.truckload.org, Alexandria, Virginia, has designed a web page that keeps the index at the right of each following page, making it possible to navigate without returning to previous pages.

One thing of interest for tank trailer carriers would be the page that discusses the association's Professional Truck Drivers Institute (PTDI), a group that promotes optimum standards and professionalism for entry level truck driving training. PTDI certifies specific courses at driving schools and provides the list on the web site.

Another service offered is a job posting.

Buttons also lead to information about the association's advocacy programs, publications, contests and awards, scholarships, headquarters, calendar of events, board of directors, divisions, and committees.

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, www.teamster.org, Washington DC, keeps its members up-to-date on the union's activities in the transportation industry. The site is especially convenient for members to respond to specific issues, or to obtain materials they can use to be politically active. It gives members an opportunity to obtain drafts of letters to send to public officials and keeps Teamsters posted on strike plans.

News of recent Teamster events are discussed, including the political actions within the union.

The index includes organizing information, the union's position on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), job rights, and hazardous material training. Unions understand the importance of organization in order to be effective in the business environment. The web site is especially well-designed for disseminating information and offering opportunities for feedback from its members.

The home page for the National Private Truck Council, www.nptc.org, Alexandria, Virginia, opens with member password entry or an alternate route for other visitors. However, there is plenty of information without the restricted entry.

Several special topics are featured on the home page. Gettin' In Gear is a maintenance program, not for equipment, but for employees. It is cooperative effort of the private and for-hire trucking industry and the government, and is geared toward physical fitness.

Also accessible from the home page is information about the Private Fleet Management Institute (PFMI) that addresses industry issues and provides studies and analyses. Reports on the studies can be ordered for a fee. Subjects include America's Private Carriers: Who Are These Guys? Other publications are driver compensation analysis, fleet management executive compensation analysis, and a quarterly cost-per-mile index subscription service.

The institute offers a certified professional program for private fleet and transportation management.

More education information can be obtained from the site, including upcoming conferences and seminars, and home-study programs.

Links on the web site are numerous and include 15 industry associations, 10 government agencies, two universities, 57 product and service companies, and eight trade magazines.

And, there is an opportunity to nominate other web sites by convenient e-mail.

The National Petrochemical and Refiners Association,www.npradc.org, Washington DC, doesn't waste any time getting the latest legislative news up front. The home page offers a quick view of recent actions. There are even immediate links to government web sites for more in-depth reports.

Similarly, Y2K information is discussed on following pages and includes links to other sources.

Another mother lode can be reviewed by clicking on the publications button that leads to a list of conference papers, transcripts, and texts on CDs. Fees vary according to the item ordered and membership discounts.

An index on the left side of each page includes the latest reports on legislation, information about the organization, conference and exhibit facts, membership applications, press releases, and safety program information.

A public policy section provides weekly and monthly updates on regulatory actions. Public policy issues can also be accessed and include such topics as global warming and regional haze. Links are provided for further information from other sources.

Links to many web sites with information related to the oil and gas industry are waiting for the click at the American Petroleum Institute (API) address, www.api.org. The Washington DC association has numerous companies, federal and state agencies, international links, and other petroleum-related sites. It's not hard to even land on The Times of London.

If gaining information closer to home is the goal, there's no problem there either. The site has gas prices, news of companies, crude oil statistics, long-term trends, and recent events. A voluminous publication page has a list of subjects on many topics, including API standards. A search engine can find even more information. For example, publications are available that discuss air emission factors for petroleum distribution. Another publication takes a look at the cost the industry has incurred from regulations related to environmental compliance.

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