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Dan England, chairman of trucking firm C.R. England Inc. in Salt Lake City, has been elected chairman of the American Trucking Associations for a one-year term.

England took the ATA's top job in October. His term runs for 12 months.

England said in an interview the ATA will lobby state and local governments to raise gasoline and diesel fuel taxes to pay for highway and bridge improvements across the U.S.

"We as an industry favor increasing [fuel] taxes,'' he said Friday. "Unfortunately, at the state and national levels, politicians have a hard time advocating for a tax increase. That's why we're seeing discussions about tolls."

Arizona is proposing to test tolls on a 30-mile stretch of Interstate 15 between Nevada and Utah as a way to fund reconstruction of deteriorating segments of the interstate system. Gov. Gary Herbert has blasted the plan.

ATA opposes a proposed change in the number of hours a truck driver can drive in one day. Current rules allow drivers to work 11 hours. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration wants to reduce the number of work hours to 10.

England said studies show that the current rule, which went into place in 2004, has reduced truck accidents between 35 percent and 40 percent. Reducing the number of hours further might reverse those gains, he said.

"If you reduce the number of hours a driver can work, you have to have more drivers and more trucks to do the same amount of work," England said. "It would mean more trucks and more inexperienced drivers on the roads."

The trucking industry is trying to cope with a shortage of drivers. The current shortfall will double in a year to about 300,000 full-time positions, or 10 percent of the workforce, according to Bloomberg News, which cited Noel Perry, managing director at consultant FTR Associates in Nashville, Ind.

ATA is a federation of 50 state trucking associations, as well as industry-related conferences and councils.

pbeebe@sltrib.comTwitter: @SLTribPaul

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