Trump and Trucking: Here’s What to Expect

November 14, 2016 by Clarissa Hawes

The Trump administration looks to offer the trucking business some badly needed road and infrastructure projects, but the industry will have to pay for the improvements, either through higher fuel taxes or tolls.

That’s the assessment of analysts at FTR Transportation Intelligence, an industry research firm.

Trump’s strong commitment to infrastructure is positive for most industries that rely on transportation. How these projects will be funded, however, might not be widely embraced by the trucking industry, the analysts said.

“We have to find a way to pay for these projects,” said Noël Perry, an FTR analyst. “Trump made it clear during his campaign that he wasn’t going to increase the deficit to pay for infrastructure projects. The trucking industry shares the highway, so we have to pay our fair share.”

The American Trucking Associations is on record opposing tolls to fund highway building and infrastructure projects. Instead, the trucking industry’s largest trade group supports raising fuel taxes. Perry said the industry should be prepared for both.

The industry also could see a reversal in several Obama administration regulatory initiatives.

A Department of Transportation plan to make trucks that weigh more than 26,000 pounds be equipped with electronic devices that would cap their top speed, might be pushed back, Perry said.

The issue has divided the industry.

Major carriers and the ATA support limiting the speed of heavy-duty trucks. Many independent drivers and small trucking firms have objected to the regulation, saying it represents unwarranted interference in how they run their businesses and could create a safety hazard when trucks need to pass other trucks.

Additionally, industry-supported proposed changes in the so-called hours-of-service rules – regulations limiting how long truckers can drive without rest breaks, “probably [isn’t] going to happen now,” Perry said.

“Trump is going to have bigger fish to fry than trucking and so does Congress,” Perry said. “I don’t think he’s going to spend a lot of time worrying about regulatory issues right away.”

Other, broader Trump initiatives could have important implications for trucking, said Bill Witte, an FTR analyst.

Trump, for example, may face political divisions within his own party in the coming months, Witte said.

“The political warfare situation would be the Republican part of the House fractures and fights among itself, and in the Senate, you may have a real significant breakdown in operations between Republicans and the Democrats,” Witte said.

Elsewhere, Trump’s campaign promises to renegotiate or scuttle the North American Free Trade Agreement and embark on other protectionist policies could trigger a trade war.

“If he starts a trade war, we are going to have a recession, period,” Perry said. “We will have to watch really closely to find out who he appoints to his cabinet – that will give us some clue.”

Given the global nature of many supply chains, trade battles could become “very disruptive,” Witte told Trucks.com.

Despite the unknown factors, Trump opens the possibility of several developments that “could have very positive implications for the economy, Witte said.

“The one that could have the most immediate impact would be regulatory changes since a lot can be done there by executive action without the need for Congressional legislation,” Perry said.

Changes in the tax code also could be favorable to trucking, especially large family-owned carriers. Trump’s energy policy could help increase oil production, which would create demand for trucking and keep fuel prices low.

All told, “trucking companies may be better off in 2017,” Perry said. “As we enter 2017, expectations are low and the economy is likely to be better than expectations, as least for the first half.”

The FTR analysts expect economic growth of 2 percent, about the same as this year.

While consumer spending was the economy’s main driver this year, Witte sees a more balanced economy next year, with brisker growth in business investment and housing.

Related: Truckers See Largest Pay Raise of Any Profession, Glassdoor Finds

13 Responses

    • adrian

      We professional drivers voted for president trump enmasse, seems to me he met early with the ATA, thinking they were the Trucking industry, our president was duped, The ATA people didn’t vote for trump, We did, it is sad to see that we at ooida and the countries real professional drivers have been ignored. We still Love Trump though

  1. Martin Bachicha

    We need Truckers and Bikers for Trump to show up in masses JAN 20 to support our President Elect

  2. Oralia

    What about the stringent emissions in california that are driving many companies out of business, and costing others hundreds of thousands just to continue trucking in California?

    • Tony Angulo

      I hope President Trump overrides calafornia’s stupid Carb regulations or creates a lower 47 state commercial truck license that excludes California. If my truck is not allowed in California I should not have to pay a penny to that envirowaco state.

  3. Ray Ayers

    what about some flexibility in hours of service,would give drivers time to get away from the truck.i think if would increase safety because you could take more needed breaks

  4. Eric

    Stop all trucks into California, let them walk to the border to get all there goods.

  5. Bobby

    I’m glad we finally have some body in office with some balls who will see the trucking industry most of all us Drivers need a pay increase
    I mean if the fast food industry pays there employees $15.00 HR

    how about us the drivers that bring the goods to those over paid food handlers
    just my option. I’m not looking for a fight I’m just saying for as much time I am away from my family and what little money I do earn it would be nice as a professional driver we make things happen pay us RIGHT our Family’s depend on us to

  6. john

    i hope the president Trump looks at the eld there has been more wrecks since than before the eld because you are under the gun all day

  7. Rick

    Anyone who itemizes deductions will lose money on taxes under Trump’s plan. I take the $63 per diem deduction and typically come up with about $14K+ in total deductions. Trump plans to eliminate the $4050 personal exemption and raise the standard deduction to make up for it. If you itemize, the standard deduction doesn’t apply, but you still lose the personal exemption. I am a single driver who makes ~$68K and with having to pay taxes on that “extra” $4050, my taxes go up by $600+. Also…the benefit from the elimination of the 15% bracket is almost completely offset by the increase of the 10% bracket to 12%. Sadly, this is yet another Trump plan that I must oppose. It hurts single itemizers and especially hurts single parents who lose multiple personal exemptions. The only thing I figured Trump would do right is judicial appointments (and hopefully, dealing with N. Korea and Iran). Looks like I was right. Don’t regret voting for him, not that there was any choice, but we really need a real conservative who has principles and understands these things.


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