By Keith Goble
state legislative editor
Truckers have spoken up and made a difference already this year in numerous ways. They have participated in local discussions on key issues, they have provided insight into the daily challenges of being behind the wheel, and they have communicated with their lawmakers at every level of government.
The significance of these actions cannot be touted enough. Their efforts help set the foundation for informing elected officials and the general public about the interests and needs of professional drivers.
It is vital that the progress be continued. The biggest part of growing these accomplishments starts at the voting booth.
While this year’s election season cannot match the attention the presidential race received a year ago, that doesn’t mean your vote is any less significant this time around. With most ballots this year concentrating on local issues, punching a ballot remains just as important – if not more so – to a trucker’s trade.
This November, voters across the country will cast ballots on various transportation-related issues. They also will choose between local officials who can make decisions on such important issues as idling, truck parking and truck routes.
And of course in New Jersey and Virginia voters will decide who will be their governor for the next four years. New Jersey residents also will vote on Assembly lawmakers, and Virginians will cast ballots for their state representatives.
Your rights, and your job, are worth fighting for. This is no time to ease up. We must continue the task of educating officials and the public.
Prompted by the restrictive truck parking ordinance in his community and in the entire Antelope Valley, OOIDA member Tom Fidger ran for and won a seat on the Littlerock, CA, Town Council. Fidger, members Bill Benton and Bill Smith (also of Littlerock), and others continue to meet with officials to work toward a resolution.
Upset with plans in Virginia to shutter nearly half of the state’s rest areas, a long list of OOIDA members took action by contacting VDOT and their state lawmakers to inform them of truckers’ plight in the state when they are out of hours and need a break. OOIDA Life Member John Taylor of Cross Junction went directly to his congressman to press him for support. Their persistence resulted in the state reconfiguring parking at the remaining 23 locations.
With the governor’s signature to end the dangerous and much-despised split speeds on many interstates, Ohio truckers were rewarded for their relentless pursuit to expand the adoption of uniform speeds in the state.
Defining persistence, Illinois truckers once again plugged away at state lawmakers to approve uniform speeds. They didn’t rest until the governor signed the bill into law.
Also in Illinois, following an OOIDA Call to Action “hundreds and hundreds of calls” poured into the office of one state lawmaker in opposition to legislation that called for truckers to pay twice as much to base plate their trucks. The fervent response helped persuade members of the House transportation panel to reconsider the bill.
In Maine, OOIDA Senior Member Larry Sidelinger of Nobleboro and others working to reform state laws and regulations to benefit small-business truckers met with the governor on issues relating to fuel surcharges, truck weight restrictions, and the fines truckers face for being out of compliance.
New York members have given it their all during the more than a yearlong fight against the state DOT’s plan to restrict trucks from certain state routes in the Finger Lakes region. OOIDA Life Member Lou Esposito of Duanesburg and Senior Member Terry Button of Rushville are among the truckers working to ensure that the financial interests of small-business truckers who use these routes are accounted for.
Life Member Warren Riley from Valparaiso, IN, and others took action against a proposed ordinance to prevent truckers from parking overnight at retail parking lots in Hobart, IN. Their communication with the city council led to further study on the issue.
OOIDA members Sherrie and Bob Bond of Chehalis, WA, member Russ Iund (also of Chehalis), and others concerned about the “perfect storm” that has dramatically affected the demand for their truck operations opened a line of communication with Washington state lawmakers this spring about the dire situation the entire trucking community is facing. The dialogue helped spur passage of a resolution to support small-business truckers.
A coalition of port truck drivers at Hampton Roads, VA, promoted OOIDA member Paul Yurkovac, of Newport News, VA, to the position of director of public relations and project coordinator. The recently formed Owner Operators Coalition of Virginia is positioning itself to meet with port and political leaders to address driver concerns over port efficiency.
OOIDA member Scott Mooney of Cambridge, Ontario, has led a grass-roots effort to challenge speed limiters in the province. His work has included a petition drive, publicity campaign and protest convoys.
Spurred by an OOIDA Call to Action, Florida truckers contacted their state lawmakers about a budget proposal to increase motor vehicle registration fees by 100 percent. When the dust settled, the increase was whittled down to 35 percent.
Wisconsin truckers took information provided in an OOIDA Call to Action to let lawmakers know about their concerns that a proposed oil company tax could have on pump prices. The Legislature eventually dropped the provision from the state’s budget.
OOIDA member Bob Stanton of Batavia, IL, participated in a panel discussion about sleep apnea and commercial drivers. Stanton is a company driver who keeps a CPAP machine in his truck to treat his own apnea. LL
On the national level
Here are a couple of great examples of how the trucking community is more than willing to get behind causes.
When President Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon discussed cross-border trucking in August, OOIDA issued a Call to Action urging calls to the U.S. Trade office. In a matter of hours, the office had to switch to voice mail to keep up with the volume of calls.
More than 7,400 truckers and their families have signed a petition regarding the urgent need for more safe and secure areas for truckers to park and rest. In remembrance of Jason Rivenburg, the grass-roots petition titled “Jason’s Law” has resulted in bills being introduced in the U.S. House and Senate. LL
While this list of efforts is impressive, it is in no way complete. There are countless other examples from around the country this year of truckers who have been proactive on issues that are important to them. Share your stories with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.