OOIDA targets EPA regs, speed limiters and electronic logs in letter to Trump

By Jami Jones, Land Line managing editor | 12/5/2016

Improving the nation’s infrastructure and reducing the burdens of “one size fits all” regulations were the top agenda items that the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association communicated to President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team late this past week.

OOIDA President Jim Johnston and Executive Vice President Todd Spencer sent a letter on behalf of the Association to Vice President-elect Mike Pence, head of Trump’s transition team, on Dec. 2.

The pair took the opportunity to educate the incoming administration on the role of small-business truckers in the U.S. economy, detailing that they compose 90 percent of the trucking industry, with single-truck operators accounting for 56 percent of all motor carriers. They also pointed out that the average OOIDA member has more than 2 million miles of safe operation.

With the nation’s manufacturing, retail and consumer segments of the economy dependent on trucking, OOIDA’s letter was quick to support Trump’s focus on investing in and rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure.

“We are enthusiastic about working with you in the coming years, particularly on our shared goal of revitalizing America’s infrastructure,” Johnston and Spencer wrote. “We are optimistic robust infrastructure investment can be accomplished without excessive burdens to the trucking industry and highway users.”

Turning from the obvious need to put a long-term fix together for highway funding, Johnston and Spencer took aim at the current regulatory scheme.

“For far too long government has failed to grasp the value and importance of this diversity, and has burdened the industry with a ‘one size fits all’ approach that punishes small businesses, stifles competition, and overregulates an industry deregulated by design,” the two wrote.

“Over the past decade and a half, the federal government has released new regulations with unprecedented costs at unprecedented volumes. Compliance with those regulations has never been greater, and as a result crashes with trucks are increasing, not decreasing. Predictably, the response of the agency will be even more regulations.”

Johnston stressed the need to the incoming administration to not only slow the pace of regulation, but also consider a “stay” of pending regulations.

The letter details the electronic logging mandate, a proposal for speed limiters, and expensive environmental standards that have driven up the cost of trucks and trailers.

The electronic logging mandate drew serious fire from Johnston and Spencer in the letter when he advised Trump’s team that the mandate was identified more than five years ago to carry a price tag of more than $2 billion – one of the seven most expensive proposed mandates of the current administration at the time. OOIDA’s leadership exposes the shortcomings of the devices’ abilities to actually track complete hours of service requirement. The letter highlights in particular the fact that the devices cannot detect the activities of the driver when the truck is not moving and are not foolproof as some want to believe.

“We suggest the Department of Transportation seek less costly and burdensome alternatives and also work with Congress to ease the stringencies of the ELD mandate that will go into effect in December 2017,” the pair wrote.

Moving to the currently proposed speed limiter mandate, Johnston again encouraged the Trump administration to sideline the regulation.

Detailing the increase in vehicle interactions, Johnston and Spencer gave a brief explanation of the rule’s inevitable negative impact on highway safety. They followed with Congress’ realization years ago that states are best suited to set speed limits that facilitate the even, safe flow of traffic in various areas. Speed limiters would infringe on the states’ ability to set those speed limits.

Hitting once again at the burden of the cost of regulation, OOIDA brass took aim at the agencies’ explanation of the cost-benefit of speed limiters.

“The agencies admit the rule has a dramatic impact on small businesses noting ‘we expect that large trucking companies would absorb the additional cargo with their reserve of capacity of trucks but would need to hire additional drivers.’ Additionally, the agency concludes, ‘Although the proposed rules would apply to all heavy vehicles, the agencies’ analysis indicates that this joint rulemaking could put owner-operators and small fleet owners at a disadvantage.’

“Smaller carriers working at the behest of the larger carriers is not ideal for safety, the consumers, or the industry,” they wrote.

Finally, Johnston and Spencer tackled the rapid-fire regulations being churned out by the Environmental Protection Agency.

“Recently released EPA regulation on heavy trucks has pushed the 10-year regulatory burden on America past $1 trillion; this equates to an annual cost of $540 for every American,” they wrote.

“While attempting to reduce already declining emissions from trucks, the regulation will simultaneously increase the cost of equipment, making it more difficult for independent drivers to purchase new, more advanced vehicles.”

OOIDA’s executives concluded their letter to the Trump team by simply stating that if “ever there was a time to pause and assess the impact today’s avalanche of federal regulations is having on small business truckers, it’s now.”

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