SAN DIEGO — We recently reported on the American Trucking Associations’ 86th annual Management Conference and Exhibition, which took place at the San Diego Convention Center in early October.
A main topic of discussion was of course the upcoming changes proposed in regards to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s hours-of-service rules, which the ATA fully supports.
Another big issue at hand included the legalization of recreational marijuana as more and more states are hopping on board–which continues to push the trucking industry and its current challenges to their limits.
In response, the ATA recently endorsed a set of policies related to marijuana, such as relaxing federal regulations on cannabis studies.
A working group from the ATA, which researched state legalization efforts and their impact on impaired driving and road safety has inspired the association’s Board of Directors to support the increase of marijuana research, especially regarding drug testing technology. According its recommendations, the group has said it aligns with “lifting federal restrictions on marijuana research” in order to continue this kind of research.
At the management conference, the American Trucking Associations explained that it also supports maintaining employers’ rights to test employees for marijuana usage, and that it advocates for the improvement of testing methods, investigation into impairment standards, and further research on the drug’s effects.
Although it is currently unclear what actions the ATA is pushing for in regards to lifting blocks to research, there is an understanding that rescheduling cannabis under the Controlled Substances Act will be an important tool in reaching that goal.
However, ATA’s Controlled Substances and Driver Health and Wellness Working Group do have a few recommendations, such as developing a policy that ensures employers can test all drivers for marijuana, implementing legislation changes to permit drug testing using “alternative specimens” like hair and saliva as opposed to just urine samples, as well as the use of oral fluid testing.
“ATA has long been an advocate for reducing impaired driving–in all its forms–so it only makes sense that we would call upon state and federal governments to consider the impact of increased use of marijuana on our roadways,” said ATA President Chris Spear in a press release. “As an industry that operates in all 50 states and across national borders, we need all levels of government to help us keep our roads and drivers drug-free.”
Spear also mentioned cannabis policy in his conference keynote speech, giving a look into the ATA’s reasoning around establishing such a working group.
“Eleven states, D.C. and Canada have now legalized the recreational use of marijuana, all while our federal government turns a blind eye,” he said. “And guess who gets caught in the middle?”
The ATA has even more controversial endorsements, such as the establishment of a “marijuana victim’s compensation fund,” which would be funded completely by dispensaries, manufacturers and growers. It also recommends the adoption of both state and federal legislation that would “require that each time marijuana is dispensed to an individual, it is reported to the state.” However, these policies do not explain who would qualify for compensation, how the funding would be sourced, or how prescription drug monitoring could legally be put into place.
An additional attention-grabbing topic of conversation at the event included that of cybersecurity, as transportation organizations have become a major target for ransomware attacks.
“This is why we’re doing a session on cybersecurity,” said Ken Craig, vice president of special projects at McLeod Software, as he referenced Forbes’ data showing that the transportation industry currently ranks fifth on the list of the most cyber-attacked industries.
Sharon Reynolds, chief information security officer for Omnitracs, said that small trucking companies are often the biggest targets for hackers as they typically have unsophisticated protection software. Larger companies who do have high-quality protection are still a large target, though, as they often pay hackers highly to disable their computer systems.
Saunders said motor carriers need to start conducting annual assessments of their systems, as well as to begin applying software patches and implementing an incident response plan.
CEO of RunSafe Security Inc., Joseph Saunders, also weighed in, recommending truckers initially protect personal information on both employees and customers, and start educating their employees about phishing scam threats and protecting accounts payable information.
As for computer protection quality right now, “by the time you get the notice, you’re in deep yogurt,” said panel moderator Craig.