OOIDA: The next 25 years

There is no doubt that technology will play an ever-increasing role in all facets of our lives. As technology continues to bring rapid changes to our industry, we must ensure that technology is utilized for the operator of the truck, and not against the operator. We cannot lose sight of what must always be our primary goal as an industry, and that is safe operations. Government is already looking at technology to solve tax collection and enforcement problems. OOIDA’s concern is that technology could be used to enforce impractical and antiquated regulations for revenue enhancement, while safety and the professional trucker’s right to privacy are sacrificed. Our efforts will be focused on assuring that the regulations (such as hours of service) are revised in a way that is practical to today’s trucking environment and does not create a greater burden than benefit. OOIDA will fight to ensure that overzealous attempts at applying electronic technology to commercial vehicle enforcement do not infringe on truckers’ constitutional rights.

Increasing congestion is one of the biggest <r> challenges that the trucking industry will face in the future and will influence many of the problems. Our highways are already inadequate to handle the current volume of traffic, and the solutions to this problem will mean additional government controls and regulations that will affect trucking in a wide range of areas. Environmental concerns will result in regulations that dictate more dramatic changes in the design of trucks and engines. Safety concerns will further impact vehicle design, as well as the way our highways are designed and maintained. OOIDA will be the truckers’ voice as the issues related to congestion are dealt with, working for sensible, practical, cost-effective solutions. Also a product of increasing congestion, the current dangerous shortage in safe parking areas for trucks must be dealt with.

Small business truckers over the next <r> quarter century will continue to be challenged to generate adequate income in an increasingly competitive industry. As large motor carriers continue to buy up other carriers, the demographics of trucking will change. There will be a very few, very large motor carriers and a lot of very small fleets and owner-operators. These small fleets and owner-operators face an ongoing struggle to compete with giant carriers who, by virtue of their size, enjoy tremendous marketing and buying power. OOIDA’s goal is to offer its members that same level of marketing and buying power through a wide range of programs, including truck financing, fuel discounts, tire and other equipment discounts, and programs designed to increase recognition and position independent owner-operators as responsible service providers to the nation’s shippers. Also on the agenda is a motor carrier rating system to aid those owner-operators looking for an equitable lease contract.

The way we communicate is chang-ing faster than most of us can comprehend. I think that communication technology breakthroughs will mean more and more information instantly available to truck operators in the coming years, and that will have a positive impact on highway safety, as well as allowing the operator to make the best possible decisions for his business.

Another problem that must be addressed in the coming years (and I hope it doesn’t take 25 years) is that the industry must do a better job of attracting and keeping qualified people. Adequate training is an absolute necessity, along with better working conditions, and fair compensation. OOIDA has been raising these issues with lawmakers and regulators since the beginning, and we plan to step up our efforts in these areas.

Over the next 25 years, the challenge for OOIDA is to become even better at communicating with members, regulators, lawmakers and now the general public, too. The public has to understand how essential trucks are to the nation. Our members must always be informed as issues evolve so they will be prepared to make the best decisions for themselves and their businesses. The strong voice of our membership has had an impact in many, many areas of trucking, and as our membership steadily grows, so will the strength of our voice. OOIDA will be a key player in any arena where professional truckers are challenged — for the next 25 years and beyond.