Washington Insider – A new tool for truckers

By Ryan S. Bowley, OOIDA Director of Government Affairs

I could fill a column (probably a whole issue of Land Line) just listing the number of issues percolating in Washington and in state capitals that will affect truckers. These aren’t just bills and budgets, but also regulations and guidance that take the broad policies passed by legislators and implement them out on the road.

It’s hard enough for the average trucker to keep focused on all of this when you are also focused on, well, being a trucker. You are balancing your business, your family, and taking action on policy issues when you can, but it’s not always easy to fit that in, especially when you are on the road.

One of the most important things that OOIDA and the government affairs staff here in D.C. do is help keep you up to speed on what is going on and what is important for you to take action on.

Active and engaged truckers are the force behind the shoe leather we burn walking the marble halls of Capitol Hill, helping bring home the issues we talk about with lawmakers and staff. Frequently we visit with staffers who already understand the issues we are talking about because of relationships you have built with them.

Often the schedule of trucking and the schedule of Capitol Hill don’t match up. You can’t call when the offices are open to take your call, and when you can call, they aren’t open. Even worse, sometimes when the schedule does match up, their phones are busy because so many other folks are trying to call in on so many other issues.

This spring, OOIDA launched a new website, This site – which you can visit on your computer at home; your laptop or tablet from the sleeper of your truck; or from your smartphone while at the truck stop – enables you to have an impact with lawmakers when it works for you and your schedule, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

For years, OOIDA has sent out “Calls to Action” over email. With, in addition to making a call to your lawmaker’s office, you can take your advocacy digital, sending an email to your lawmakers.

The best part is that this takes only a few clicks of your mouse or taps of your finger. As it has done for “Calls to Action,” OOIDA has already drafted an email message for you to send. If you want to change the message you can, but sending a quick message couldn’t be easier.

Building a relationship with your lawmakers’ staff and educating them about trucking is still the most important step you can take to have an impact over the long-term. Email messages, like those sent through, play a different, but important role.

In congressional offices, computer systems are used by staff to collect, count and respond to the messages the lawmaker receives from constituents. Letters, emails, phone calls, faxes and everything else goes into this system.

One of the most important ways offices use these systems is to understand what issues constituents are contacting them about. In most offices, there is a weekly meeting where the senator or representative will get a quick briefing about what the top five or 10 issues folks back home are contacting them about. Getting on that list is one of the keys to gaining the attention of the office on an issue.

Looking down the road, the site has the opportunity to tie into the social media tools that so many truckers and congressional offices are using, giving you more tools to take action (and to encourage your family and friends to take action on your behalf as well).

With Congress developing and debating a new highway bill, truckers need to be active and engaged in Washington. We need to take every opportunity and every avenue to break through the noise from our opponents and from other issues.

OOIDA is all about fighting for truckers, and with truckers now have another tool to be part of that fight. LL