The Impact of the Trucking Industry in Tennessee
Gant, Ron E., Business Perspectives
Trucking is defined as "the process or business of transporting goods on trucks." This country is dependent upon the trucking industry-without trucks, America stops.
How dependent are we? In Tennessee, some 70 percent of our communities'only source of commercial transportation is the truck. Whether hauling raw materials or loaves of bread, trucking gets it there.
According to U.S. Department of Commerce figures, 29 percent of all Tennessee workers are employed in the manufacturing sector. The same source reports that 70.5 percent of the total tonnage of manufactured goods transported to and from Tennessee locations each year is moved by truck. A survey of Tennessee's 10 largest manufacturers demonstrates the point. Of all modes of transportation, only trucking is used daily by every one of the firms surveyed. While all use other modes to varying degrees, only trucking is used universally.
The trucking industry is estimated to employ some 150,000 persons or 11 percent of the work force in Tennessee. The diversity of trucking jobs ranges from driving to dispatching, from safety inspections to sales. The annual payroll is estimated to exceed $2.8 billion. United States Department of Commerce annual wage figures indicate that trucking industry wage averages are 34 percent higher than the Tennessee composite average and well above wage averages for other industries such as manufacturing and construction.
Registration data indicate that the majority of trucks are used for non-commercial purposes, with some 297,400, or roughly one fourth, used in commerce. The commercial trucks used in farming and construction account for 161,000 of the total. Of all commercial vehicles, only 69,000 exceed 10,000 lbs., which is the size of a one-ton pickup. While Tennessee's economy was growing rapidly between 1982 and 1987, the number of large trucks grew by only 2,000 (69,000 total).The actual growth occurred in grain and dump-body trucks, with declines reflected in the more traditional commercial van, tank, and flatbed truck classes.
In addition to sales, income, business, personal property, and other taxes, the trucking industry in Tennessee pays over $10 million each week in state and federal highway taxes. When considered in total, trucks, including those used for non-commercial purposes, comprise less than 20 percent of all the vehicles on the road yet pay 52 percent of the taxes.
According to 1988 United States Department of transportation figures, large trucks pay almost 38.9 percent of state and federal highway taxes yet total only 1.4 percent of registered vehicles.
A comparison of the average highway user fees paid by the medium-sized passenger car and the five-axle tractor semi-trailer shows that trucks pay over 48 times more user taxes than do automobiles. Such differentials appropriately reflect the commercial benefits of trucks in regard to the relatively small percentage of these vehicles that use our highway system for commercial purposes.
TRUCKING AND SAFETY
The trucking industry on the federal level under the umbrella of the American Trucking Association has led the fight to improve both highway and commercial trucking safety. Enactment of the Commercial Drivers License by the Congress and subsequent action by the respective state legislative bodies will assure that a driver of any single or combination (truck and trailer) vehicle weighing over 26,000 lbs., transporting 15 people including the driver, or transporting hazardous materials will have only one license.
Tennessee was one of the first states to enact such legislation in 1988 and implemented the program beginning in June 1989. …