By Jim Johnston
OOIDA President and CEO
Did you ever hear the expression “Katy, bar the door?” I am not sure where it originated but I’ve heard it all my life and basically it means, get ready, there’s trouble coming.
Thirty years ago, trucking was economically deregulated, ditching the old ICC-regulated rates and pricing system and opening the door to a rabidly competitive market as the control. However, that doesn’t mean trucking is now deregulated. It really isn’t, of course.
Trucking is under siege by what economists call “social regulation,” or non-economic rules. That’s all the rules and regs that tell you when and how to do your job. Some of these rules are good, but it’s become a record-setting tsunami of driver and equipment regulations that, left to its own ends, has the potential to suffocate the trucking industry.
It’s all those controls that come at drivers and their equipment and their operation via the brainstorms of government, private corporations, special interest groups and others – primarily in the name of protecting the public. For truckers, it’s mostly in the name of highway safety and keeping trucks on the environmental straight and narrow.
It’s those rules that will require black boxes, clean engines and rollover technology on your truck. It’s those rules that dictate when you can and cannot idle your engine, and when you can or can’t take a nap. Now it’s going to be rules that will tell you what constitutes distracted driving and the rules that will tell you that you weigh too much to be a safe driver.
Did you ever think truckers would have to adhere to a gazillion such rules? And the rule makers are making more just as fast as they can think of them. How do you build a dam that holds back this flood? How do you keep from being crushed in this fanatical stampede to regulate?
Keeping all this regulation at an acceptable level requires an organization that knows how to fight back. At OOIDA, we stick together and watch for the boneheaded rules coming down the pike and we fight them before they become law. Every time a harebrained idea is born that saddles truckers with another irrational rule, we are there saying “enough is enough.”
A significant part of what OOIDA does and has done since 1973 is not just making good things happen for professional truckers, but is also keeping bad things from happening. It’s pushback. And to survive trucking’s current climate, there must be pushback every minute of every day.
So when someone asks you why you are a member of OOIDA, don’t forget the one reason that is often the most invisible – pushback.
If that constant pushback doesn’t happen – then Katy and everybody else with a bar must certainly be ready to nail it across a very big door. LL