Incentive sought to keep trucks rolling
Brandon Musso believes reduced trucker waiting times at warehouse docks could make a dent in the national truck driver shortage.
Musso wants to start with Tennessee by creating a state tax incentive for shippers to reduce downtimes for truckers picking up and dropping off loads of freight.
A logistics director for third party logistics provider Re-Trans, Musso jotted down the idea one night while brainstorming solutions to a growing shortfall of truck drivers. It would grant shippers a 2 percent tax credit on line-haul freight costs when truckers are kept waiting less than two hours on each end of a haul. Musso persuaded lawmakers to translate his idea into legislation, which was introduced in the Tennessee General Assembly last week. Senate Majority leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville, introduced it in Senate and Rep. Karen Camper, D-Memphis, is the House sponsor.
“I was just tired of seeing the drivers disrespected,” said Musso, 35 a New Orleans native and Christian Brothers University graduate.
Truck drivers typically make money when they’re rolling, but an average 20 percent of their time is spent waiting, Musso said.
Waiting times are a hot topic among drivers on trucking industry message boards. Wasted hours have been blamed for sapping productivity and causing safety violations as drivers try to make up for lost time.
If waits are reduced, drivers can log more miles and make more money, helping trucking companies by making a career at the wheel of a big rig more attractive.
The American Trucking Associations projects the nation will be short 175,000 drivers by 2024 if current trends continue: veteran driers leaving and younger people steering clear of the occupation.
Musso estimates his program could increase driver refenue potential by $15,000 to $20,000 a year and add 2,500 to 5,000 jobs over five years through greater efficiency.
“This doesn’t disadvantage anybody in the chain,” Musso said.
Musso initially approached U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Memphis, who suggested that he start with Tennessee lawmakers.
Camper said, “It make me think about all the conversation I’ve had with independent truck drivers, the small guys who have their own small firms, and some of the issues they have to deal with sometimes. I thought this would be an opportunity to really take a close look and maybe revolutionize how we deal with this turnaround issue.”
Joel Henry, president of Memphis based Intermodal Cartage Company, said, “This bill would be a direct and indirect win for multiple parties. And the benefits would have a positive ripple effect. A more productive truck can deliver more cargo during the same work period, which means greater efficiencies all around. These efficiencies eliminate the need for additional trucks. Less trucks equals less emissions. Fewer trucks on our highways and interstates reduces wear and tear on our roads. Less road congestion provides for safer highways for everyone.”
Musso said he realizes the idea may not make it into law, but he’s hoping it will be at least a step in the right direction. “I’m not saying it’s a fix nationally, but it’s a start.”
Posted: February 3, 2016