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3/2/2017 12:06:00 AM Write a Letter to the Editor Write a letter to the Editor

ATA's Chris Spear Calls for Industry to Embrace Technology

Spear (left) in Nashville by John Sommers II for Transport Topics; in Phoenix by Seth Clevenger/Transport Topics

Speaking at a pair of industry conferences, American Trucking Associations President Chris Spear addressed the federation’s efforts to tap into technological innovation and work with the Trump administration to achieve policy goals.

At trucking technology supplier Omnitracs’ user conference Feb. 27 in Phoenix, Spear said the industry should embrace opportunities to improve safety and efficiency through automated driving and other technologies.

A day later at the Technology & Maintenance Council’s annual meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, he said President Trump is not beholden to Washington, and that it is important for the trucking industry to attempt to understand him.

“The only people he is beholden to are the people who voted for him,” Spear said. “We need to understand his agenda, and that’s difficult. It doesn’t come in the form of 140 characters, and it doesn’t come from 77-minute press conferences.”

But Spear said the believes the president will “go down his checklist” and “do everything he campaigned for.”

“I look for this president to unleash the private sector,” Spear said. … “I don’t look for mandates, I look for innovation.”

Contrary to some of the “hype” about driverless trucks, Spear said he’s not concerned that automated driving technology will displace drivers.

“This is really driver-assist technology, not driverless technology,” he said. “We need to focus on that reality.”

In fact, the automated trucks have the potential to help drivers, Spear said, by enabling them to move freight more efficiently, learn additional skills and potentially earn more pay.

“I’m not threatened by technology. I think we need to embrace it,” Spear said. “It’s a catalyst to making our industry better, and as a result America stronger, and our economy even better.”

Spear said he believes the widespread adoption of autonomous vehicle technology is at least 20 to 25 years away, but reiterated his stance that trucking “must take its seat at the table” to help shape the development of this technology and its regulatory framework.

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By Seth Clevenger and Eric Miller
Staff Reporters

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