20 March 2008
One of SC&RA's most important activities is conducting research projects to provide information not available anywhere else. In many cases, these projects benefit from the financial assistance of the SC&R Foundation. Research to be funded is carefully selected by SC&RA members themselves in consultation with the association's staff.
In keeping with the SC&RA mission, the goal is to conduct research that yields the unique information our membership needs to safely, legally and profitably transport lift and erect oversize and overweight items. Frequently, we depend on the research to help advance our regulatory and legislative agenda.
The findings enable us to make a strong case when dealing with local, state and federal officials. In addition, we often distribute our research reports to dozens of other associations with interests similar to ours, including but not limited to the American Trucking Associations, state and local trucking associations, the US Chamber of Commerce and the Association of Equipment Manufacturers.
These groups also tend to have very strong regulatory and legislative outreach capabilities. Pooling research and other resources fortifies all of our efforts to affect positive change.
Increasingly, this spirit of cooperation flows across US borders. By sharing research results, we have facilitated dialog with groups such as the Crane Rental Association of Canada, the European Specialized Transport Association, the Crane Industry Council of Australia, the New Zealand Heavy Haulage Association and many others.
A prime example of practical research that addresses a very real problem is our new study, Nonuniformity in Oversize/Overweight Load Permitting Practices. This report documents how the lack of uniformity in state, county and municipal permitting requirements serves as a roadblock to the safe and efficient movement of oversize/overweight loads.
Hard evidence is presented to demonstrate how carriers are challenged on a day-today basis with navigating through a maze of differences in permit administration, requirements and enforcement. Merely identifying who is responsible for permit administration, particularly at the county and municipal level, can be a daunting task.
Because a 50-state process seemed overly broad in scope, the analysis focused on permitting practices in the Midwest region of Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Michigan. The report incorporated interviews with state permit officials, trucking industry representatives and permitting service agency representatives. It also examined state regulations; a sample of 11 state oversize/overweight vehicle permits and related county and municipal permits; and an additional 12 individual state and local permits involving specific processing issues. Furthermore, the report included information from relevant research reports, papers, and other publications.
Conducting the study was J. Garza Consulting, which also completed SC&RA's comprehensive, award-winning “Pilot Car Escort-Best Practices” training program. Because the research was conducted by an independent organization, we gained credible, viable results that went well beyond the anecdotal reports we had been receiving from members.
Clearly, this 39-page analysis will not languish on our shelves. Almost immediately, staff used it to advocate SC&RA's position to members of the American Association of State and Highway Transportation officials. The report will also be used as the basis for numerous SC&RA presentations before state and regional permitting authorities in the immediate and long-term future.
We encourage our members to use the research findings in their own local and state areas of operation to help drive change. By using this report, our members will be able speak with a consistent, unified voice. To receive your copy of the report, call SC&RA at 703-608-0291.
As we work to disseminate information concerning this research project, we continue efforts on other significant research. For example, SC&RA is now beginning research to obtain more quantifiable data on the size, scope and economic impact of our industry. This information will give government agencies at every level even more reason to listen to our industry's unified voice.