A contingent of OOIDA leadership met with lawmakers’ staff to talk about such issues as speed limiters and insurance.
OOIDA leadership spent time in late July and early August meeting with lawmakers’ staff members in Washington, D.C., to provide the truck drivers’ point of view on several bills related to the industry.
On July 31, OOIDA Board Member Monte Wiederhold and OOIDA Director of Government Affairs Collin Long met with the staff of Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, to discuss such issues as minimum insurance requirements and speed limiters. A day later, OOIDA Executive Vice President Lewie Pugh, OOIDA Permits and Licensing Representative Tamara Young, Long and Wiederhold met with the staff of Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, to talk about those issues, as well as the DRIVE-Safe Act and driver training.
“The folks we met with were pretty receptive to what we had to say,” Wiederhold said on Land Line Now. “Some of the stuff we laid out were things they hadn’t heard before. That’s what it’s all about. It’s about educating these guys to the real-world trucking experience we have as drivers and members.”
Long said that while OOIDA’s government affairs team keeps lawmakers informed about the Association’s stance on key issues, it is extremely important for lawmakers and their staff members to hear directly from truck drivers.
“I think having a lobbyist like me and a member like Monte to come in and talk to offices is a good one-two punch,” Long said. “Monte can talk about the experiences of driving and how it’s affecting him as an owner of a truck, and then I can talk about some of the finer details of government affairs. It’s good to have that dual approach, which is why we always encourage members to call their elected officials. We’re doing the groundwork here in the capitol from a lobbying perspective, but we do need that firsthand knowledge of trucking and how those policies are going to affect your bottom line. We need that perspective.”
In July, Reps. Matthew Cartwright, D-Pa., and Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, D-Ill., introduced HR3781, which would raise the federal minimum insurance requirement for motor carriers from $750,000 to nearly $5 million. The bill would also require the U.S. Secretary of Transportation to adjust the rate every five years to take into account inflation costs related to medical care.
OOIDA says that increasing insurance minimums “will do absolutely nothing to improve highway safety.”
“I went over the reasons it’s not needed,” Wiederhold said. “The average insurance claim is settled for about $18,000. The minimum is $750,000. Most guys like myself with my small fleet carries $1 million, which is actually over the required amount.”
In June, Sens. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Chris Coons, D-Del., introduced S2033, which would mandate vehicles weighing more than 26,000 pounds be restricted to a top speed of 65 miles per hour.
The OOIDA Foundation has provided research that speed differentials leads to an increase in interactions on the highway, which can be a detriment to safety.
Pugh pointed out to Portman’s staff that many states, including Ohio, eliminated split speed limits for heavy-duty trucks and passenger vehicles.
“We let them know that it creates an unsafe environment on the highway,” Pugh said.
OOIDA says that the DRIVE-Safe Act would also be a hindrance to safety. The bills, HR1374 and S569, would allow under-21 drivers to operate in interstate commerce.
The Association told the lawmakers’ staff members that the DRIVE-Safe Act is about giving large carriers more opportunity to hire cheap labor and that calls to create mandates for speed limiters and automatic braking systems is because the large fleets don’t want to do what it would take to train drivers properly.
Pugh encouraged OOIDA members to reach out to their respective lawmakers to speak out on these issues.
“Call your lawmakers,” he said. “We’ve done the groundwork, but it is so important for truck drivers to reach out and provide them with real world examples about how this affects you.” LL