Within many industries, there are professional organizations that allow members to enjoy benefits including representation, networking opportunities and continuing education. The trucking industry is no different. There are several professional industry-related trucking associations and organizations, each of which has its own benefits and membership expectations. Whether you’re a driver, fleet manager or otherwise employed in the transportation industry, the following four organizations top the industry influencer list:
American Trucking Associations (ATA)
American Trucking Associations (ATA) is a collection of 50 state-level trucking associations, conferences and councils with a shared mission of advocacy and education. Founded in 1933, the ATA serves as the largest national trucking industry organization. With an active presence on Capitol Hill, the ATA educates policymakers on security, highway safety, environmental protection and profitability in the trucking industry. Some positions that ATA is actively supporting on behalf of the trucking industry include:
- Improving highway infrastructure and funding through fuel tax
- The use of alternative fuel sources, uniform federal and state fuel regulations and increased domestic fuel production to reduce volatility and increase self-sufficiency
- Backing practical technologies and policies to reduce pollution tied to commercial trucking, maintenance and facility operations in the effort to protect the environment.
The ATA provides a voice for the trucking industry by acting as a representative in the legislative, regulatory and litigation efforts of motor carriers. By bringing together professionals to form a variety of subcommittees, the ATA can tackle big-picture issues that ordinarily single professionals might not be able to pursue without support.
Trucking Industry Defense Association (TIDA)
As "a driving force of knowledge and resources for the trucking industry," the Trucking Industry Defense Association (TIDA) is committed to reducing losses for motor carriers through education, legal alliances with attorneys and insurance representatives. TIDA members are encouraged to take advantage of provided resources, share their own knowledge and experience regarding risk management, and cost management associated with claims, lawsuits and accidents. Membership in an organization like TIDA could help reduce these costs. Many carriers have also adopted a GPS tracking and fleet management system to create safer fleets. These fleet tracking systems provide insight into data, generated in real-time, that would otherwise go unseen. From alerts for vehicle maintenance, to two-way communication for efficient dispatch management, GPS fleet tracking systems help prevent unsafe driving so fees and fines can be avoided.
The National Association of Small Trucking Companies (NASTC)
A trucking association dedicated to helping and encouraging small companies to succeed in a competitive and growing industry, the National Association of Small Trucking Companies (NASTC) is unlike other organizations that accept single members. The association is focused on small trucking companies, and membership is offered at the company level. The NASTC lobbies on behalf of small companies and is passionate about driver safety, advanced technology and regulatory compliance in order to maximize the efficiency of its members.
Trucker Buddy International
Trucker Buddy International is a bit different from other industry groups, as it’s not about saving money or lobbying for the industry's best interests: It's about making meaningful connections and enriching the lives of children. This nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization operates a pen-pal program between students and professional truck drivers. Matched at a class or organization level, students receive weekly letters from their group's driver sharing news about their adventures and job. Skill-building through correspondence is geared toward improving students' grades in writing, reading, math, geography, history, and social studies.
Of course, this is only a sampling of the many different types of organizations available to those working in trucking, as there are many more national, state and regional trucking associations available to join. Aside from the specific benefits offered by these and other trucking organizations, some general membership benefits apply to most, including:
- The opportunity to stay current on trucking-related issues
- Education about the latest technologies affecting industry operations
- Networking and opportunities to attend events with other industry professionals
- Ongoing training opportunities to learn new skills critical in an evolving industry.