OOIDA goes on offensive educating Biden camp

December 3, 2020

Mark Schremmer

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With truckers reeling from the relentless pressure since the ELD mandate followed by a global pandemic, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has taken a pre-emptive strike for the rights of truckers with the presumed President-elect Joe Biden.

There is no shortage of issues confronting the trucking industry as we head into 2021. In an effort to put those issues front and center, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association sent a letter to President-elect Joe Biden’s transportation transition team about the priorities for OOIDA members.

The letter, which focused on such topics as infrastructure funding, truck parking, minimum insurance, speed limiters, detention time, broker transparency, and driver training was sent on Thursday, Dec. 3.

Infrastructure funding

Topping the list of priorities is infrastructure funding and trying to make the process equitable for truck drivers. OOIDA said professional drivers continue to favor the current user fee structure and would prefer “reasonable increases” to the federal gasoline and diesel fuel taxes.

The Association said it is open to further discussion about a vehicle-miles-traveled tax but that many OOIDA members remain skeptical that a VMT system is the solution to the highway funding problems.

One funding route OOIDA doesn’t want to see the next administration go down is tolling.

“OOIDA has consistently opposed any federal expansion of tolling policies,” the Association wrote. “Research has shown that tolling is an extremely wasteful method of funding our highways compared to fuel taxes. Additionally, toll roads consistently fail to meet revenue projections, creating unanticipated funding shortfalls, inevitable rate increases, and traffic diversion to non-tolled routes.”

Truck parking

Providing a sufficient amount of safe parking spots for truck drivers is one of the key issues confronting the industry.

“The current truck parking crisis is a serious highway safety concern,” OOIDA wrote. “OOIDA favors dedicated federal funding to expand truck parking capacity. More federal dollars must be spent to increase capacity instead of introducing ineffective technology and signage that only notifies drivers when spots are open, or in many cases, when spots are simply full.”

OOIDA asked the Biden administration to support HR6104, which would provide hundreds of millions of dollars to add truck parking spaces.

Opposition

Some of the priorities include measures that OOIDA is trying to prevent from seeing the light of day. Some of those measures include increasing the minimum insurance rates, mandating speed limiters and lowering the interstate driving age to 18.

There have been efforts to increase the federal minimum insurance requirement for motor carriers from $750,000 to as much as $5 million.

“OOIDA is against raising minimum insurance requirements for motor carries beyond the current level of $750,000, which would lead to unaffordable increases in insurance premiums for many owner-operators,” the Association wrote. “Federal studies have shown that less than 0.2% of truck-involved accidents result in damages that exceed current minimum liability coverage requirements. Any minimum insurance increase would jeopardize the livelihood of thousands of small-business truckers and likely force drivers with millions of accident-free miles off the road.”

The Association also opposes initiatives to mandate speed limiters and to lower the driving age. OOIDA said that speed limiters create dangerous speed differentials on the highway, and doesn’t want a decrease in driving age to allow mega fleets to take advantage of young drivers.

OOIDA priorities

Other priorities OOIDA wanted the Biden administration to be aware of included detention time, automated vehicles, broker transparency, underride guards, hours of service, driver training, truck size and weight, CSA reform, worker classification, and a push to eliminate the UCR program.

More information about OOIDA’s priorities can be found here.

Spencer makes pitch to lead FMCSA

This is the second letter OOIDA has sent to Biden’s transition team in the past week.

In the first letter, OOIDA President Todd Spencer, who has more than 45 years of experience in the trucking industry, made known his desire to be the next administrator of the FMCSA. Spencer said the trucking industry said the agency needs someone who knows what it’s like to be a driver and criticized current regulations that have nothing to do with safety.

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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.