Who's a fat, noncompliant cheater?

By Joyce Sauer Brenny, OOIDA member

I am curious what gives logistics research analysis John Larkin of Stifel Nicolaus Transportation & Logistics Research Group the right to make defamatory comments about the safety practice of, in his words, "smaller" carriers. Let me remind you what Mr. Larkin told the Commercial Carrier Journal on Aug. 7:

"The looming electronic logging device mandate will trim the industry's fat. An ELD mandate could push 3 to 5 percent of the industry's capacity off the road, as smaller, less compliant carriers won't be able to cheat anymore to be competitive."

WHAT? Fat, noncompliant cheaters? Them's fighting words! As an industry professional of 30 plus years, a former driver, and the owner of an award-winning "smaller" trucking company, I am beyond insulted by his comments.

Mr. Larkin, unlike the route you took to defame and insult small carriers, the segment of trucking that makes up 90-plus percent of the industry (Source: OOIDA Foundation), I am going to ask you to kindly go back to your research drawing board and let the country know the facts. The fact is that "smaller" carriers are the safest carriers on the road, with or without electronic logs! (Source: OOIDA Foundation) "Smaller" carrier does not mean smaller minds. The research has proved that large carriers make up the majority of safety concerns in our country. (Source: OOIDA Foundation)

Small carriers are the true professionals of our industry, running safe and compliant, and most do this without ELDs. You want to trim fat? Do this by allowing safety to speak for itself. The backbone of our industry is made up of small carriers, carriers with drivers who make us proud every day.

My company has a National Association of Small Trucking Companies Driver of the Year and three Minnesota Trucking Association drivers of the month, not to mention many insurance and industry safety awards we have won. Not bad for a "small carrier." As far as drivers cheating, unfortunately drivers are typically cheated by the system far more often than they cheat on their logs. Mr. Larkin, your lack of respect for the professional truck driver comes across loud and clear. I am sad that you feel this way.

We hear about ELDs leveling the playing field. I would ask industry customers to be aware of what the big carriers are trying to do. The game plan is to regulate the small carriers out of the industry. Most customers prefer to use small carriers because of the outstanding customer service. Customers, please know that your choices will be limited if the big carriers have their way. The customer service you take for granted will no longer exist. Rates will increase, and the big carriers will tell you when they will pick up and when they will deliver, with no concern for your needs. This will be the new world of trucking. That does not sound like fat trimming to me.

Mr. Larkin took to insulting the small carriers as a way to create fear. Small carriers are, by far, the safest drivers on our country's roads, and our customers know this. The big carriers are threatened and feel desperate to use regulation as their weapon.

Small carriers like my company use customer service as our weapon, no cheating needed here. Unlike the big carriers, there are no tricks up our sleeve, just good honest customer service. Small-business truckers, don't let the likes of Mr. Larkin hold you down. Good always prevails, and small trucking companies aren't just good. We are great. And it's obvious we are feared for this.

Professional truck drivers and small carriers, you make many of us proud every day, in spite of the disrespect and insults from people like Mr. Larkin. We must forgive the ignorant who do not understand the sacrifice, the commitment, and most of all the courage it takes to serve trucking. Thank you, small-business truckers. I am proud to be on your team. LL