History

ATA: Serving the trucking industry for 80 years and counting.

Since 1933, when the American Highway Freight Association and the Federation Trucking Associations of America met during a Chicago spring to form American Trucking Associations, ATA has served and represented the nation’s motor carrier industry.

1933

Representatives of the American Highway Freight Association and the Federation Trucking Associations of America meet in Chicago to discuss how to satisfy the National Recovery Administration’s order to all industries to show how they will comply with the Code of Fair Competition. The two groups ultimately agree to merge and form American Trucking Associations, filing a certificate of incorporation in September and choosing Ted Rodgers as the organization’s first president.

1934

ATA holds its first annual convention in October in Chicago.

1930s

ATA adds three conferences: The Film, Air and Package Carriers Conference, The National Automobile Transporters Association, The Regular Common Carriers Association.

1937

The first National Truck Roadeo is held and sponsored by ATA. The Roadeo eventually becomes the National Truck Driving Championships.

1939

The federal government issues the first hours-of-service rules for trucking.

Early 1940s

ATA purchases and moves into first long-term headquarters at the corner of 16th and P Streets NW in Washington, D.C.

1941-1945

The Office of Defense Transportation is created to coordinate efforts between ATA and the Department of the Navy and the Department of War. As part of this, ATA was asked to recruit personnel for the U.S. Army Transportation Corps. ATA also added four more conferences during the war: the American Movers Conference, Interstate Truckload Carriers Conference, National Tank Truck Carriers and the Regional and Distribution Carriers Conference.

Late 1940s

Under the direction of past ATA Chairman E.J. Buhner, ATA cements “three-legged” structure of state associations, councils and conferences, and ATA headquarters staff.

1947

Rodgers retires as ATA president. Following his departure, the position is renamed Chairman of the Board and converted to an elected member with a one-year term.

1953

ATA celebrates the 50th anniversary of the American trucking industry, marking the date with a contest in New York City hosted by the Automobile Club of America in which 11 trucks and wagons powered by gasoline, steam and electricity out-hauled teams of horses.

1953

The ATA Foundation is formed to promote industry research.

1955

ATA hosts its first meeting for state trucking association executives, which would later become the Trucking Association Executives Council, in New Orleans.

1956

The Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 is signed into law, ushering into the Interstate highway era.

1959

ATA purchases property next door to its P Street offices, and moves into a new six-story headquarters.

1960s

ATA lobbies unsuccessfully for increases in truck size and weight limits, with some newspapers rejecting paid ads in support of legislation. Truck size and weight reform ultimately passes in 1974.

1974

ATA purchases properties on First Street SE that will ultimately become the permanent home for the federation’s on-Capitol Hill presence.

Late 1975

ATA’s Executive Committee establishes a task force to study renewed calls from lawmakers to deregulate the trucking industry.

1978

ATA demonstrates that proposed changes to the hours-of-service rules would not substantially reduce truck crashes.

1980

The Motor Carrier Act of 1980 passes, deregulating the trucking industry.

1981

All states adopt maximum gross weight limits of 80,000 pounds on their interstate highways.

1984

The Few Committee, headed by past ATA Chairman Richard Few, reformed much of ATA’s structure to address the fallout of deregulation in an effort to show trucking as “a more professional, more progressive [and] more public-oriented industry.”

1984

ATA leaves its P Street headquarters for a new, modern glass building overlooking the Capitol Beltway in Alexandria, Va.

1985

The ATA Litigation Center is founded to achieve the industry’s goals through the courts. Major victories included overturning of state flat truck fees, defeat of the Port of Los Angeles’ ban on independent contractors and overturning of several weight-distance taxes.

1986

ATA launches America’s Road Team, a group of trucking professionals chosen for their exemplary safety records to represent the industry and educate the public about trucking.

1988

The Share the Road driver education program is born under the name How to Drive.

1990s

ATA spends much of the decade fighting higher taxes and fees, as well as advocating for opening up cross-border trucking with Canada and Mexico.

1998

ATA celebrates the first annual National Truck Driver Appreciation Week.

1999

The Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999 is signed into law, creating the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to oversee the industry.

2001

The ATA Foundation is rechristened the American Transportation Research Institute with the goal of undertaking transportation research with an emphasis on the trucking industry's essential role in a safe, efficient and viable transportation system.

2003

Bill Graves assumes the role of president of ATA after two terms as governor of Kansas. Graves is chosen, in part, for his family’s roots in the trucking industry, his family having founded Graves Truck Line.

2004

FMCSA issues the first update to the hours-of-service rules since 1939. Despite opposition from anti-truck special interest groups, the rules contribute to some of the lowest crash and fatality rates in history.

Mid-2000s

ATA leads efforts to dissuade states and the federal government from using tolls or privatization of highways to fund infrastructure. These efforts ultimately beat back many toll-backed initiatives across the country.

2007

ATA sells its Alexandria, Va., headquarters and moves into its current location in the Ballston neighborhood of Arlington, Va.

2007

The United States and Mexico finally agree on a plan to open the border between the two countries. The program is shuttered in 2009, but restarted in 2011.

2008

ATA endorses a package of policies aimed at reducing the industry’s fuel usage and carbon footprint. Led by past ATA Chairman Tommy Hodges, the Sustainability Task Force recommends several steps, including the creation of fuel economy standards for large trucks.

2008

The National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission, created by Congress, issues recommendations on the future of funding surface transportation. ATA and the industry are represented by past ATA Chairman Patrick Quinn.

2009

The ATA Safety Task Force publishes a comprehensive plan to reduce truck crashes, making sweeping recommendations on driver performance, vehicle technology and carrier standards.

2009

Despite improvements in safety under the 2004 rule, industry opponents force FMCSA to review and revise the hours-of-service rules. In 2011, FMCSA issues new rules, despite questions about their costs and alleged benefits.

2011

ATA completes work and opens a new Capitol Hill office, complete with new conference facilities, a renovated town house and work space for its legislative and federation relations staff.