OOIDA coalition stands up against expensive trucking mandates

September 16, 2019

Mark Schremmer

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The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has joined forces with 30 other groups to oppose four bills that would impose “burdensome” mandates on trucking businesses.

The coalition, which is led by OOIDA and includes dozens of trade associations, opposes bills that would mandate underride guards, speed limiters, automatic emergency braking systems, and a minimum of $4.9 million worth of liability insurance. As part of the coalition, a letter of opposition was sent on Monday, Sept. 16 to the leaders of the Committee on Commerce Science and Transportation and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

“As Congress begins to craft the next surface transportation reauthorization, we write to express our opposition to a series of bills that would impose tens-of-billions of dollars in unfunded mandates on American businesses engaged in trucking,” the coalition letter stated. “Collectively, these proposals neglect the diverse operations and working conditions of our members and would mandate extremely costly and excessively burdensome one-size-fits-all requirements. Perhaps most concerning, these bills would do nothing to improve highway safety.” 

The Stop Underrides Act

In March, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., introduced S665 and Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., introduced HR1511, bills that would require tractor-trailers with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or more to install rear, side, and front underride guards.

“The requirements of this legislation are simply unworkable,” the coalition stated. “Certain trailers, including low boys and auto transporters, aren’t capable of being fitted with side or rear underride guards. The bill mandates front underride guards on single-unit trucks, yet no front underride equipment is currently on the market because the concept lacks any practicality.”

The OOIDA coalition also contends that there remains a lack of research indicating that underride guards would reduce crash severity and fatalities.

As of Sept. 16, the bills have 20 co-sponsors in the House and 12 in the Senate.

 Speed limiters

The Cullum Owings Large Truck Safe Operating Speed Act of 2019, or S2033, would require commercial motor vehicles weighing more than 26,000 pounds to be equipped with speed limiters set at 65 mph. The bill was introduced in June by Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Chris Coons, D-Del.

“Decades of highway research shows speed differentials result in more interactions between truck drivers and other road users,” the letter stated. “Studies have consistently demonstrated that increasing interactions between vehicles directly increases the likelihood of crashes.”

To date, the bill has only one co-sponsor.

Automatic emergency braking

The Safe Roads Act, or HR3773, would require new commercial motor vehicles to be equipped with and use an automatic emergency braking system. The bill was introduced on July 16 by Reps. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, D-Ill., and Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga.

OOIDA and the other groups in the coalition contend that automatic emergency braking technology is still in the early stages.

“While AEB is designed to help reduce or prevent rear-end collisions, this technology is still in its infancy and can create new challenges and dangers for drivers, such as false or unexpected system activation,” the letter stated. “AEB technology is also very expensive, and studies have shown it is not clear that the benefits of these systems would outweigh the costs.”

Six co-sponsors in the House support the mandate.

Minimum insurance

Reps. Matthew Cartwright, D-Pa., and Garcia introduced the INSURANCE Act, or HR3781, that 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 in inflation costs related to medical care.

The bill has received support from the American Association for Justice, a group representing trial lawyers.

OOIDA and the other groups in the coalition say that increasing insurance minimums is “primarily an opportunity for trial lawyers to receive greater payouts at the expense of U.S. businesses.”

“The studies have indicated the current minimum insurance level adequately covers damages in all but 0.06% of crashes,” the coalition wrote. “This is a clear sign today’s level of coverage is adequate. What studies haven’t shown is any improvement to safety associated with increasing insurance requirements.”

HR3781 has six co-sponsors.

The OOIDA coalition said these mandates could actually decrease safety rather than improve it.

“Unlike our coalition partners, supporters of these mandates know virtually nothing about trucking,” OOIDA President and CEO Todd Spencer said. “The unfortunate reality is these mandates would likely decrease safety, not improve it, while imposing astronomically high costs on a wide variety of industries. That’s the point we’re conveying to Congress.”

The members of the coalition are:

  • Agricultural Retailers Association.
  • Agriculture Transportation Coalition.
  • American Dairy Coalition.
  • American Farm Bureau Federation.
  • American Pipeline Contractors Association.
  • American Pyrotechnics Association.
  • Associated Equipment Distributors.
  • Associated Oregon Loggers.
  • Association of Professional Towers of Ohio.
  • Corn Refiners Association.
  • Distribution Contractors Association.
  • Mid-West Truckers Association.
  • National Asphalt Pavement Association.
  • National Association of Small Trucking Companies.
  • National Cotton Council.
  • National Cotton Ginners’ Association.
  • National Council of Farmer Cooperatives.
  • National Grain and Feed Association.
  • National Hay Association.
  • National Ready Mixed Concrete Association.
  • National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association.
  • National Utility Contractors Association.
  • National Wildfire Suppression Association.
  • NFIB.
  • North American Millers’ Association.
  • Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.
  • Police Towers of America.
  • Power and Communications Contractors Association.
  • Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute.
  • Towing and Recovery Association of America.
  • United States Cattlemen’s Association.
Mark Schremmer

Mark Schremmer, associate 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 nearly two decades of journalism experience to our staff.