UCR: It's way past time to kill it

By Woody Chambers, General VP OOIDA Board

Trucking used to be more colorful in many ways.

I finally bolted a 2-inch-by-12-inch to the bumper of my old International CO4000. It was the easiest way to handle the dozen or more license plates you needed to run all 48 states. I attached them with roofing nails and removed them with a claw hammer. Entire doors and panels were covered with fuel and use decals of every color.

But the most colorful ID of all was your form D “Bingo” card, postage stamp sized stickers for every state in the program that you operated in. One had to be very careful to check for current stamps on your “Bingo” card. Although the cost of the stamp was small, the fine for noncompliance could be substantial.

Today, interstate carriers generally run one IRP plate covering their base state and others they run in and one IFTA sticker signifying their current registration in the program. There are no “Bingo” cards anymore.

They were replaced by the SSR, Single State Registration program, which has been replaced by the UCR, Unified Carrier Registration plan. (Full disclosure: I serve as the small carrier representative on the UCR Board of Directors.)

As a matter of history the original “Bingo” stamp revenue was used by the states to verify and enforce carrier authority and financial responsibility. The states have not had that responsibility since the early ’90s when the Feds took it over.

There is no justifiable reason to fund states for a function they no longer perform. That is fact number one and really should kill the UCR with no argument. Beyond that, it is obvious that the system is burdensome, confusing, inequitable and unenforceable at anywhere near a 100 percent level (as admitted by the FMCSA in their own proposed rulemaking) and conducive to all sorts of mischief by everyone involved, carriers and enforcement.

As a result of large carrier lobbying, towed units have been dropped from reporting requirements and UCR fees have nearly doubled in all six brackets. However, while you as a one-truck operator will always pay $76 for your truck, mega carriers – your competition – can pay $7 or less per truck. We at OOIDA also have good reason to believe that some carriers leasing owner- operators are charging them the $76 one-truck fee rather than the smaller fee they are actually paying.

One final point: The erratic penalties for non-compliance assessed by the states can range from $0 up to $10,000 per day with formal proceedings. It should be obvious to any sane person that the plan is unreasonable and the Unified Carrier Registration Act of 2005 must be repealed. LL