Time to regain focus

Whether you are celebrating or lamenting the results of the presidential election, I have to ask you to focus. OOIDA needs you in the game for what will be an interesting 2017.

As with any election we have seen in the past, and we’ve seen a lot, trucking is certain to be on lawmakers’ agendas. As we watch the priorities shift from an outgoing liberal administration to a conservative administration, we need to be prepared for the mixed bag that these transitions inevitably bring. We know some of what is to come will be good and some will be bad.

So what will a Trump administration mean for professional drivers and independent operators? Well, the first thing on everyone’s mind in Washington, D.C, is the excitement surrounding promises of a massive infrastructure bill. While this is anticipated to fix an ailing and out-of-date system, the question will continue to be how it will be funded.

On President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team there are a few who support highway privatization. Read: tolling.

Don’t panic. We must remember that Congress will be the one drafting any legislation, and that dynamic hasn’t changed much. While Republicans have the ultimate veto-proof "trump card," they still have to try to work across the aisle to overcome factions within the party. This sort of political negotiating is how the FAST Act came to fruition – a bill that failed to identify new, sustainable and robust funding sources for our infrastructure.

It’s easy right now to focus on presidential politics. But it cannot be our only focus.

It’s important to educate your lawmakers in the House and Senate. This is especially crucial if you have newly elected officials who either replaced a retiring lawmaker or won in a heavily contested race.

All sorts of special-interest groups will pounce on these new lawmakers the second they hit D.C. Truckers need to be first in line educating them on the ills of speed limiters, what EPA mandates have done to your bottom line, and how tolling is a terrible idea. Of course those are just a few things on a long list of issues important to truckers. It is critical that you build an immediate rapport with the staff of your newly elected lawmaker. That way you can build upon it as issues important to you bubble to the top of the national conversation.

The overall agenda, as set by the Trump administration, likely will see a reversal of some of the regulatory burdens on trucking, which would be a relief. Perhaps we will see changes to CSA. Perhaps we will see changes to some of the EPA rules. Maybe we will see the love affair with unnecessary "safety" measures that focus on false security offered by technological mandates come to an end.

Other areas are a big concern, too. One of the biggest proponents of speed limiters is a Republican senator from Georgia. That’s not to say the speed limiter mandate is a Republican agenda item. In fact, the mandate certainly doesn’t fall along party lines. Will we see the agencies issue a final rule? Will we see legislation introduced to pursue speed limiters if the agencies abandon the issue? It’s possible.

Also high on the watch list: autonomous vehicles. This is a conversation that would have continued regardless of the person who was in Oval Office. America is fascinated by this technology. The conversation surrounding driverless trucks is in its infancy on Capitol Hill. But the technology is quickly moving, and drivers need to be part of the conversation about what this means for their industry’s future. If you are harboring the belief that this technology is decades away and you can snooze for a while, you are in fact dreaming.

In short, tolls, unfunded mandates, and new technological advances still loom. With the hotly contested election behind us, now is when the real

work starts to protect the livelihood of the American trucker.