During the spring meeting in April, board members heard reports, set strategies, re-elected two officers, seated five newly elected alternate directors and approved a longtime employee to a high-level executive position. It also accepted a surprise – and sizable – scholarship donation from a mystery guest from the past.
OOIDA’s proposed safety agenda grabbed a top spot, specifically driver training, safe truck parking availability and cab crashworthiness.
“The real experts on almost all trucking and highway-related issues are the drivers themselves. If you want to know what’s going on or what’s needed, ask the folks on the front lines,” said OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer. “They deal with these issues almost every day of the year.”
A special guest from the Federal Highway Administration in Washington, DC, agreed that the Association’s input is vital to developing solutions to issues that are critical elements to safety – specifically truck parking.
“I am appreciative of the time that the executive board afforded FHWA to discuss the truck parking activities that have been undertaken and to discuss those that are planned,” FHWA’s Tom Kearney said after the meeting.
Kearney is the freight operations program director for FHWA. He spent a day at OOIDA headquarters during the meeting and spoke at length to the board. Kearney is the manager of the administration’s truck parking program and has been charged with the congressionally mandated Jason’s Law survey.
Legislative affairs report:
Spencer – with the DC staff’s Ben Siegrist and Ryan Bowley – reported to the board on key legislation that is on OOIDA’s radar and provided an update on issues – speed limiters, truck size and weight, sleep apnea, HOS, Mexican trucks – that are high on the Association’s priority list.
President Johnston advised the board on the Association’s litigation activities, including several old cases and a few new ones. Johnston reported appeals in both OOIDA v. C.R. England and OOIDA v. Comerica Bank. OOIDA and named plaintiffs have filed suit against Pacific Financial Registry. Watch for details on that lawsuit in the July issue.
The Association has a number of regulatory-related lawsuits pending against FMCSA.
The most recent suit was filed in December 2012. The Association contends the agency is setting “de facto” regulation on fatigued driving using performance-based standards – something the agency has said it cannot regulate in the past.
Another lawsuit filed last year pertains to the agency’s DataQ challenge. DataQs are the process in which motor carriers can theoretically correct bad inspection data used in the Pre-Employment Screening program. That data is the same data that is used by Compliance, Safety, Accountability or CSA.
In both the fatigue enforcement and DataQ lawsuits the agency has filed motions to dismiss and the Association has opposed both motions.
The Association intervened in the hours-of-service lawsuit currently pending in the U.S. District Court for the DC Circuit. The case was argued in March and a decision is pending. In the meantime, the regulations will go into effect July 1.
OOIDA is also financially backing and providing legal assistance to OOIDA Member Gene Michaud’s constitutional challenge of speed limiters in Ontario, Canada, Johnston reported. The Ontario Court dismissed the charges against Michaud. The court ruled that the Ontario law violated Michaud’s rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, specifically the right to security of the person. That ruling has been appealed, and the appeal will be heard later this year.
Johnston also reported to the board that OOIDA’s Washington, DC, counsel is preparing to file two more lawsuits that will be announced soon.
Regulatory advisory report:
The Association’s regulatory affairs are currently managed by Spencer, Rod Nofziger, a special committee of regulatory experts from the Business Assistance Department, and Land Line Managing Editor Jami Jones. They tag-teamed to give the board additional regulatory updates.
Jones reported that the final rule on a drug and alcohol clearinghouse is now at the Office of Management and Budget for review. The Medical Examiners Registry created by a final rule issued a year ago will be mandatory in the summer of 2013. The proposed rule will automatically link medical certifications to state licensing agencies.
Jones also reported that in the fall of 2013 MAP-21’s broker reform requirements will begin going into effect.
She also gave status updates for the requirement of electronic stability control systems on heavy trucks in the next four years. NHTSA’s final rule is expected to be published in the spring of next year and will cover new vehicles only.
Jones updated the board on Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA), currently being audited by the Government Accountability Office and the DOT Inspector General. She said the focus of the audit is on methodology and any “tie” to safety. She said Congress is still very much focused on CSA – mostly in the U.S. House – and that there’s likely to be a hearing before the end of the year.
“Meanwhile, at FMCSA, the agency continues to defend the program and its impact on safety,” said Jones. She reported that in December some changes went into effect, but OOIDA does not see any other changes on the horizon that would improve the flawed program. LL