OOIDA: It’s time for truck weight exemptions to expire

May 12, 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 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 on Tuesday, May 12. 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.”

 

Weight exemptions

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.

“While removing these emergency exemptions will not completely solve the issue of low freight rates, it will certainly help to improve conditions for our members.”

Broker transparency

In addition to asking for truck weight exemptions to end, OOIDA said that additional transparency in broker transactions is needed in order to improve freight rates.

On May 6, OOIDA sent a letter to members of Congress to address concerns from truckers regarding “feeble rates” and the “utter lack of transparency between brokers and motor carriers.”

The Association said that brokers are skirting current transparency regulations. OOIDA said brokers should be required to provide an electronic copy of each transaction record once the contract has been completed, and brokers should be explicitly prohibited from including any provision in their contracts that requires a carrier to waive their rights to access the transaction records.

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.