President says treating truckers as "villains" through
more stringent, targeted enforcement is not the answer to improved
highway safety; warns of potential impact on safety caused by
the exodus of thousands of experienced drivers
3, 2002, Grain Valley, MO ---- Jim Johnston, President of the
Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) today
said the continued blind emphasis on developing more stringent
and more invasive methods of enforcement against truckers will
not result in increased highway safety. OOIDA is the nation's
largest trade organization of professional truckers, representing
the interests of the country's 350,000 small business truckers.
a keynote address to the International Truck and Bus Safety
Symposium at the University of Tennessee, Johnston said, "There
is a price to pay for this philosophy of blindly pushing ahead
with continuously increasing enforcement. Obviously the millions
of dollars invested every year in this effort is a stiff price
but even more significant is the rule of diminishing returns."
Diminishing returns, according to Johnston, result from the
negative impact the increasing levels of enforcement are having
on professional drivers, influencing many of the best to exit
said, "The exodus of thousands of good, hardworking professional
drivers who are sick and tired of being treated as second class
citizens or targeted for enforcement in every jurisdiction they
pass through, is a substantial loss to the industry and to the
effort to improve commercial vehicle safety."
out that there is no pool of well-trained replacements to fill
the seats of those experienced professionals leaving the industry.
New, inexperienced replacements would only have a negative impact
on highway safety.
have far more at stake than most in improved highway safety,
and should be considered partners in the efforts instead of
the unjustified targets of enforcement efforts."
remarks, Johnston singled out for particular criticism agencies,
politicians and other state and federal forums that continually
depict truckers as careless, reckless, irresponsible lawbreakers
in need of targeted enforcement. He cited several recent examples
of law enforcement officials and politicians whose derogatory
comments towards truckers were seemingly done for public relations
motives, to seek additional funding or simply to cover their
quoted DOT statistics involving fatal collisions between trucks
and passenger vehicles showing passenger vehicles were at fault
in the vast majority of cases. "Truckers are the safest
drivers on the road and they do an outstanding job in furthering
the cause of highway safety".
recommended alternative considerations for budget allocation
in addressing highway safety. Commenting on roadside inspections
and enforcement for vehicle defects, including the millions
of dollars budgeted by states for such new technology as infrared
devices which can detect brake problems as trucks go by, Johnston
said efforts should be made to direct funding to research for
correcting major vehicle defect problems. "Would it not
make more sense to invest some of these resources to develop
efficient, dependable brake systems that are less prone to maintenance
problems? Does anybody really believe that a large percentage
of truckers are knowingly and intentionally running around out
there with dangerously defective brakes?"
said Johnston, the lack of mandatory standardized training has
left the door open for many abuses and a continuing influx of
new and unprepared drivers. "It is absolutely ludicrous
that occupations such as barbers, hairdressers and insurance
agents are required to go through mandatory training in order
to be licensed, but that no training at all is required to obtain
a license to operate an 80,000-pound truck over the highway."
went on to also mention loading and unloading abuses faced by
truckers at docks and the lack of adequate parking and rest
facilities as other factors impacting on the stress and daily
performance of truckers. These are growing problems that must
answer lies not in further victimizing and alienating this force
of drivers but rather in finding ways to involve them in addressing
the problem," Johnston said. "Truckers are intelligent,
patriotic citizens who are willing to work hard and commit their
efforts and loyalty when the cause is worthwhile."
text of Jim Johnston's speech at National Safety Council symposium