OOIDA: It’s time for weight exemptions to expire

June 2020

Mark Schremmer

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Weight exemptions that were granted because of the COVID-19 pandemic should expire as soon as possible, OOIDA said in a May 12 letter to leaders of the Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration.

“At the outset of the COVID-19 emergency, it was prudent for states to increase truck weight limits to allow for the quick transportation of emergency supplies,” wrote OOIDA President Todd Spencer. “These waivers helped drivers make critical deliveries in a timely manner. However, now that emergency and panic buying has slowed and most other economic activity has ground to a halt, there is no longer a need for these exemptions.”

OOIDA sent the letter to DOT Secretary Elaine Chao and FHWA Administrator Nicole Nason. The Association said ending the exemption would help small-business truckers who have been dealing with historically low freight rates.

“There is currently an excess of trucking capacity, and motor carriers are more than capable of meeting the nation’s ongoing transportation needs,” Spencer wrote. “Unfortunately, maintaining the weight exemptions only further increases capacity. As a result, our members have seen freight rates plummet to historic and unsustainable lows.”

In March, many states created exemptions to allow truck weight limits to increase because of the pandemic. OOIDA said it is time for those exemptions to end.

“To help improve conditions for small-business truckers, FHWA should work with states to ensure that their emergency weight exemptions expire as soon as possible and are not extended,” Spencer wrote. “If not, these policies will continue to add excess capacity to the freight market, further reducing already weak rates and worsening the economic outlook for tens of thousands of small-business truckers.”

OOIDA said that in many cases the freight rates being offered do not cover an owner-operator’s expenses to haul the load.

“If this situation continues, many operations will be forced out of business just when the nation will again turn to truckers to help carry our economic recovery,” Spencer wrote. LL

Mark Schremmer

Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.