The United States Department of Transportation (US DoT) has undergone many changes over its history. As old Presidential administrations depart, they leave their stamp on the agency tasked with overseeing America’s federal roadways and transportation systems. New administrations often bring with them new priorities for the agency. With the confirmation of Peter Buttigieg as the Secretary of Transportation for the Biden Administration, trucking companies are experiencing new hope. Just as trucking insurance protects commercial transportation businesses, federal support for DoT can help pave the way forward for the essential role commercial trucking plays in the U.S. economy.
New Transportation Secretary
Peter Buttigieg, former mayor of South Bend, Indiana and a Democratic Presidential candidate in the 2020 elections, was nominated by President Joseph Biden to be the new Secretary of Transportation. On January 27, 2021, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation approved the nomination by an overwhelming margin. In his confirmation hearings, Buttigieg expressed a pledge to support the Biden Administration’s ambitious plans to restore infrastructure and to invest in environmentally-friendly transportation technologies.
Proposals for the Future of Transportation
One of Secretary Buttigieg’s possible moves is to alter how national highways are funded; currently, gas taxes are used to fund highway maintenance and improvements, while Buttigieg’s proposal is to tax drivers based on the miles they travel. This proposal is an expansion of ideas proposed during the Trump Administration, and trucking associations like the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association expressed concern in 2020 that it would harm the commercial transportation sector. The association argued that truckers already pay an outsized share of taxes, including fuel taxes, registration fees and taxes, and heavy vehicle taxes. With taxes and with the rising costs of trucking insurance, vehicle fleet owners across the country are alarmed that the new administration could do more harm than good in changing highway funding.
Another proposal offered was to develop public-private partnerships in order to fund transportation improvements. This type of development was used by Buttigieg in his role as the mayor of South Bend, and it showed great promise in prioritizing project funds and resources. By working with stakeholders on the local, state, and national levels, the USDOT could spearhead efforts to rebuild crumbling infrastructure so critical to transportation. Roads, bridges, and overpasses can be made safer while improving efficiency, factors the trucking sector anticipates with interest.
An Uncertain Transportation Future
In the Biden Administration, climate change serves as a focal point for many of the administration’s policy goals. In the transportation sector, shifts to clean fuels and fuel alternatives are spurring advances in technology. The USDOT hopes to get billions of dollars in funding for such projects as building out a national network of charging stations for electric vehicles, including cargo trucks. What is less clear is how these ambitious plans may be funded. Buttigieg and the Biden Administration both indicated that tax increases may be required to help collect infrastructure funding. With proposed changes in the road use tax and with the potential for additional taxes, trucking companies are fearful of bearing the brunt of the costs of infrastructure improvements. Time will tell if the Biden Administration is able to improve the quality and safety of America’s roadways. More importantly, their interest in building policies to support the commercial trucking sector remains to be seen.
To better prepare for an uncertain future, trucking companies must adopt flexible and efficient operating procedures. Ensuring that trucking insurance is adequate for expected and unforeseen risks continues to play a primary role in risk management. Finally, trucking associations anticipate bipartisan support on the federal level, helping to ensure a strong future for the commercial trucking sector.
About Western Truck Insurance Services
Western Truck Insurance Services is a commercial truck insurance agency with roots dating back to 1954. We have evolved into a highly respected, professionally managed, truck and transportation insurance brokerage. The hallmark of our organization is our desire to provide unparalleled service. We go way beyond what you expect to receive from an insurance brokerage. Equipped with state of the art automation, Western Truck Insurance can provide you with lightning fast truck insurance quotes, customer service, Insurance certificates, and coverage changes. Contact us today at (800) 937-8785 to learn more!