OOIDA: Port registries violate federal law

| 12/21/2010

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and two other groups are taking on a growing trend of port registries that the groups claim violates federal law by essentially re-regulating the trucking industry.

OOIDA, the New Jersey Motor Truck Association and the Port Drivers Federation 18 filed a petition asking the Department of Transportation for a determination that mandatory drayage truck registries required by many ports and the California Air Resources Board are pre-empted by federal law.

In order to prevent a patchwork of local and state laws that impede the efficient movement of goods in interstate commerce, the petitioners are asking that these registries be prohibited.

In recent years, more and more port authorities have begun requiring interstate motor carriers to display decals or radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags, or participate in mandatory registries as a precondition to offer services in the ports.

Failure to comply with the registries means denial of a motor carrier’s ability to serve the ports and potential fines. One state environmental agency, the California Air Resources Board, has also been conducting such a registry since 2007.

The groups say this violates Section 209(c) of the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act (FAAAA), resulting in a regulatory regime that affects the price, route, or service offered by motor carriers.

“Registries and their required identification stickers are essentially a de facto re-regulation of interstate commerce,” said OOIDA President Jim Johnston. “These illegal practices should not be carried out under the guise of compliance with environmental regulations.”

Congress enacted the FAAAA’s motor carrier provision to ensure that the deregulation of the trucking industry was not replaced by a hodgepodge of inconsistent state laws and regulations. The act prevents an overabundance of laws that would not only place an excessive burden on motor carriers engaged in interstate commerce, but also prevent a competitive marketplace for motor carriers.

“Failure by the DOT to uphold the law will undoubtedly encourage more authorities to adopt similar mandates that will impede efficient movement of goods,” Johnston said. “It’s a return to the worst of the things that deregulation did away with long ago.”

Further, because truck owners typically are required to place some type of identification on their trucks to prove registration, petitioners also request a determination that additional identification requirements imposed through the use of registries are prohibited by Section 4306 of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users.

“If the federal government does not act, trucking is headed back to the days where we had multiple credentials on our trucks, from dozens of fuel stickers to multiple plates. Congress outlawed those practices and now they are creeping back into trucking,” stated Johnston.

To read the petition click here.