Cover Story
Fighting for Change
Loud and clear
Lawmakers listen to OOIDA grassroots effort and nix longer-heavier truck provsion

By David Tanner, associate editor

Until OOIDA members got involved and changed the outcome, the House of Representatives’ surface transportation bill included a provision that would have increased truck weights to 97,000 pounds on interstate highways and led to longer combination vehicles, including double and triple trailers.

The grassroots effort by OOIDA included blowing up the phones on Capitol Hill to voice opposition to the measure that was backed by the American Trucking Associations as well as large shipper, receiver and broker groups. The ATA claimed that the trucking industry was united behind longer and heavier trucks.

The pushback, generated through OOIDA’s Call to Action list, social media, websites and satellite radio outreach had the desired effect. House lawmakers amended the bill and killed the provision to increase truck limits.

“While ATA may claim the industry wants bigger-heavier, that just isn’t so,” OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer said.

“Real truckers called their lawmakers to voice their opposition and – this time – the big special interests didn’t get their way.”

Not only that, but the ATA did an about face and retreated from its position. ATA President Bill Graves and Association of American Railroads President Ed Hamberger signed a letter urging House lawmakers to “… oppose any floor amendments that would modify any of the truck size and weight provisions in the bill …”

The letter all but sealed the victory, and OOIDA credited its members for affecting the outcome.

“OOIDA members definitely got through to congressional offices and staff on Capitol Hill,” said OOIDA Director of Legislative Affairs Ryan Bowley.

“Our members said that this provision would be at the expense of safety and at the expense of small business.”

OOIDA leadership points out that this is not the first time a longer-heavier truck provision has been defeated in Congress and not the first time the ATA has retreated. The ATA backed down during debate on the previous multiyear transportation bill known as SAFETEA-LU in June 2003. LL