Trucking's pressing issues are not going to fix themselves

By Danny Schnautz, OOIDA senior member

Many things that we are unaware of affect our lives, although we must live with their impact. Manufacturers change materials, businesses change hours, restaurants change menus. We have limited input into any of these, but our voice does matter if we will take the time to speak up.

As we said before, we definitely have a say in the matters that our legislators work on. For the skeptics out there, hit pause for a minute and look back at the successes of OOIDA and its members - from the Tennessee Public Services Commission corruption to the Alabama fuel tax refund to the Louisiana "pay on the spot" routine. It was OOIDA who stopped roadside random drug tests and the Minnesota so-called "fatigue checklist."

Each of these victories was a result of work by OOIDA members and staff. Those members were truckers, not political experts. So you are as qualified as anyone else to work on an issue that you care about.

Does the lack of truck parking irk you? It is more than an inconvenience; it is a hazard to your health and to highway safety. While legislators may think of a "parking shortage" as not having a space available near the door of the grocery store, truckers know it is much more than that. If you would keep a few notes on your experiences and make your point to your legislator in a letter or phone call, you could help bring about some improvement.

Do you operate accident-free and want to tell the feds that you do so without expensive onboard electronics? Sharing that would help tens of thousands of truckers.

Are you not able to pay a big increase on insurance premiums if the feds raise the minimum policy limits? You can tell your story as nobody else can.

There are other issues that legislators need to hear from you on, including the waiting time at docks, the burden that EPA regulations put on drivers, the danger of split speed limits, the detrimental effect of hours of service, and how the no-truck routes seem to pop up out of nowhere. Do any of these sound like topics that you would like to see fixed?

When it comes to influencing and informing your legislator, the biggest limitation is you. Legislators aren't concerned with how you present your information; they are looking for facts that they can use to make decisions.

We all wait at shippers and receivers long enough to write a short letter to make our point. We can make a phone call and have a short conversation on what we do. The OOIDA offices can supply the names, addresses and phone numbers that you need. Any question that you have about this process has answers, and the OOIDA staff has those answers. Which of us cannot make our point in a discussion when we put our mind to it? You can make a difference, so take some steps to be a force for trucking.

You have an independent spirit and are very capable; you are a trucker. OOIDA, and all of the good that they have done for truckers, started with some truckers who went beyond complaining. They took the time to do something constructive about the problems that they faced more than 40 years ago. The pressing issues of trucking are not going to fix themselves. I hope that you will decide now to be part of the next legislative victory. LL