OOIDA backs bill clarifying ‘automobile transporters’ definition

August-September 2019

Tyson Fisher


A new bill aims to support the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association’s attempts to reform the federal definition of a conventional automobile transporter.

OOIDA is joined by the American Trucking Associations in support of the new bill. On June 26, OOIDA and ATA sent a letter to Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo., to voice their support for HR3474, which clarifies the definition of “automobile transporter” to include truck combinations.

“Across the federal bureaucracy, unnecessary regulatory guidance creates vast uncertainty in what should be simple regulations,” Luetkemeyer said in a statement. “A perfect example is the confusion surrounding the Federal Highway Administration’s definition of an ‘auto-transporter,’ deeming virtually indistinguishable differences between auto transporters acceptable or unacceptable according to federal regulators.”

According to the letter, carriers have been “unnecessarily and negatively impacted by the Federal Highway Administration’s misinterpretation of longstanding federal law and regulations.” In 1984, FHWA declared automobile transporters to be specialized equipment and issued front and rear overhang allowances.

In 1988, FHWA defined an automobile transporter as “any vehicle combination designed and used specifically for the transport of assembled highway vehicles.” Regarding overhang, FHWA’s 1988 final rule also stated “automobile transporters may carry vehicles on the power unit (i.e., the truck) behind the cab and on an over-cab rack.”

Based on those definitions, carrying vehicles on the power unit was allowed but not necessarily required. In fact, FHWA affirmed that interpretation in 1996, when the agency said that automobile transporters can carry cargo on the power unit and are allowed to use an overhang.

Everything changed in 2004 when FHWA altered its position, stating that to qualify as an automobile transporter, conventional combinations must be able to carry cargo on the power unit.

Conventional combinations unable to carry cargo on the power unit that were once allowed to transport automobiles could no longer do so under the new interpretation. LL


Tyson Fisher

Tyson Fisher joined Land Line Magazine in March 2014. An award-winning journalist and tireless researcher, his news reports, features and blogs bring depth to our editorial content, backed with solid detail. Tyson is a lifelong Kansas Citian.