Hot Topics

Hot Topics

Copyright 2002, Traffic World Magazine

It's 104 degrees in the shade and I'm feeling like a piece of beef jerky. That's Tucson in June. It's a beautiful place any time of the year, but as the days grow longer the climate grows more and more like an earthly imitation of hell.

But I am not here to have fun, am I? Well, yes I am, actually, if you can call a midday game of golf with a score higher than the temperature "fun."

I am also here with a purpose. Each year at this time (OK, I missed it last year) I attend the Transportation Marketing and Communications Association conference and sit on a panel of transportation and logistics editors and publishers to talk about developments and trends in the industry. The subjects that arise from the panelists and during the question-and-answer period are a good indicator of what folks in the transportation and logistics industries are worried about these days.

This year some of the big topics are:

-- The economy. When will the big rebound occur? The media folks here this year are generally pessimistic and don't expect real recovery until 2003. Maybe it's wishful thinking but I predict a stronger than usual holiday season this fall as consumers look to hearth, home and the comfort of family in a post-9/11 world. The problem with the economy now is that it is psychologically fragile. We hear good news that commerce is growing and then a flare-up in the Mideast, refreshed fears of terrorism at home or another misdeed is exposed in corporate America and the stock market takes a dive.

-- Cargo security and national security. Will terrorists succeed in new attacks on America? What new terror-inspired regulations are in the works that could slow the supply chain? Shippers, carriers and third-party logistics companies are wary of the cost, in time and dollars, that well-intentioned but overreaching regulations could bring (see stories on page 24-29). They hope that technology can help. The United States will win the war against terror, but it is going to take time and will be more difficult without the American people's trust and confidence in our nation. It's time to put politics aside and fight this war to win.

-- Business insurance in general and insurance for the trucking industry in particular. Rising insurance rates are killing trucking companies and forcing rate increases.

-- Strikes. Will there be repeats of the Teamsters strike against United Parcel Service and the unionized motor carriers? Months ago I predicted in this space that it won't happen, and nothing has changed my mind since then. Teamster rhetoric (including the strike authorization vote) may disagree, but if Jimmy Hoffa listens to what the rank and file are saying he will hear that the scars from the last strike are still too fresh.

-- Mexican trucks. When will the border open to fulfill the promise of the North American Free Trade Agreement? For the latest, see Associate Editor John D. Schulz's stories, beginning on page 11.

A second topic of the panel is the mechanics of getting news into a logistics publication like Traffic World. My goal is to make that as easy as possible for you. Please call, write or e-mail me if you need help. I will introduce you to the reporter who covers the area you are interested in and encourage you to work directly with that reporter. Contact information for all of the staff is in the box to the right.

India Jackson handles our calendar and people news. If you want publicity for an event coming up or a promotion or new employee at your company, call, write or e-mail her. If you want to express your opinion about any topic, our letters and commentary pages are open to you. Please contact me. And stay out of the sun.