OOIDA Director of Government Affairs
Have you ever found yourself feeling lonely in a crowded room? Speaking for myself, for other folks at OOIDA and for some very active members of OOIDA – we get that feeling all too often. We frequently find ourselves in a room full of people talking about trucking-related laws or regulations where we are the only voice speaking on behalf of actual truckers.
All too often we participate in meetings, hearings, conferences, etc. where corporate trucking executives, law enforcement officers, shippers, brokers, safety advocates and government employees discuss and make judgments on issues that directly affect the lives and livelihoods of truck-driving professionals. Though those folks almost never have any actual truck driving experience and seldom have any real depth of knowledge about the realities of the trucking industry, their comments and their decisions too often ooze with “we know what’s best for them” sentiments towards truckers.
Examples of these situations are plentiful. To name just a couple – the Medical Review Board that is proposing new driver health-related regulations and the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee that makes recommendations to FMCSA on trucking safety rules. Then there’s those Congressional hearings, such as the one last year on truck driver fatigue – where no drivers were invited to testify – plus meetings like the ones turnpike commissions hold on toll rates.
The lack of truck driver participation in these forums is at times a product of poor planning. Other times it results from relatively innocent ignorance or even blatant disregard for driver input. Regardless of the reason, it is unacceptable that far too often discussions happen and decisions are made without ample input from truckers or genuine attempts to reach out to the truck driving community.
Land Line and Land Line Now news and OOIDA Call-to-Actions often reference meetings that are open to the public, such as listening sessions and hearings; opportunities to submit comments on regulatory rulemakings; and of course times when it is imperative that truckers contact their lawmakers. We know that most truckers can’t afford the time or resources to stop their wheels from turning to regularly attend meetings. So what can you do? The answer is whatever you can whenever you can. LL