By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor
OOIDA Life Member Dick Pingel has 28 years experience and 3 million safe miles to his credit. The one-truck owner-operator from Plover, WI, recently shared some facts and opinions about trucking during a congressional hearing on the effects of fuel prices on small businesses.
Pingel told the U.S. House Small Business Committee’s Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy and Trade that a nickel increase at the pump can mean $1,000 in additional fuel costs for a small-business trucker.
“Small-business truckers always drive with an eye towards saving fuel no matter what the price, because our business survival depends on it,” Pingel told the subcommittee.
Although he has been to Washington, DC, numerous times, the hearing on April 14 was the first time Pingel has ever gotten to present testimony.
Pingel presented statistics about the crucial role of small-business truckers. He said 93 percent of carriers have fewer than 20 trucks, and that single truck owner-operators like him make up nearly half of the total number of federally registered motor carriers.
“Considering that the trucking industry exclusively moves about 70 percent of our nation’s goods, and that just about all freight is moved by truck at some point in the supply chain, it’s not hard to see that the cost and burdens that encumber small-business truckers have an impact on our nation’s businesses and consumers,” Pingel told the subcommittee.
“It’s just a bit harder to make ends meet,” Pingel later told Land Line Magazine. “Tires have gone up several times in the last six months. Oil changes have gone up. It’s not just fuel. Everything else is going up as well.”
Rep. Scott Tipton, R-CO, introduced Pingel at the hearing by highlighting his 3 million safe miles. Pingel said he enjoyed the experience.
“I was really surprised at how receptive the congressmen were,” Pingle said. “They really can live in a vacuum in Washington, so it’s important for them to hear about how things are for us.”
Pingel is one of several OOIDA members who have presented testimony at recent hearings.
OOIDA Life Member Kristopher Kane of Oakland Mills, PA, was the lone truck driver in a group of 40 witnesses who testified about transportation funding during a March 30 hearing of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Highways and Transit.
And OOIDA Life Members Bill and Cindy Klemm of Richfield Springs, NY, testified recently before a House T&I Committee field hearing held in their home state.
At each of the hearings, the truckers were able to convey that, in addition to fuel and taxes, the ever-increasing regulatory burden on drivers and equipment is also weighing heavily on the industry.
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