SPECIAL REPORT: Running compliant steering in positive direction

| 5/30/2003

Carriers, shippers, receivers and others began responding in early May to the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association's June safety initiative.

As part of OOIDA's June Safety Month, truckers across the country are running their rigs in strict compliance with all state laws, including speed limits and federal regulations.

For example, truckers are logging as on-duty all time spent at shipping and receiving facilities; time during traffic slowdowns; actual time spent doing required paperwork, fueling and truck servicing and time spent locating a parking space.

"Shippers routinely make truckers wait for long periods of time before they are allowed to load or unload their truck. Some even require drivers to unload their truck and perform warehouse work such as restacking pallets," said OOIDA President Jim Johnston. "Shippers do not pay for this time and work, and have no incentive to treat drivers differently. Not only is this work unpaid, but it steals the time that drivers have under the rules to do the work they are paid for -- driving the truck."

Industry support evident

Even prior to June Safety Month, OOIDA heard from several companies and truckers familiar with the effort. Here's what they had to say:

One OOIDA member reported how a shipper who regularly takes five to six hours to load trimmed the time to one hour so drivers could make on-time deliveries without being pressured to violate the rules.

Another trucker reported that after he reached his destination, the receiver advised him he was off duty and would be free to do what he wanted. The receiver said there was a restaurant across the street and the driver was free from all unloading obligations, including the count on the load.

Andy's Transfer & Storage (North American Van Lines), Glendale, CA, came out early, supporting OOIDA's initiative. "The plan is to have all drivers operate strictly within the DOT and FMCSA rules and regulations," Joe Kroening, general manager, said in a directive to drivers. "We fully support this. We would like to add that we think each and every month should be safety month."

"OOIDA's Business Services staffers are calling all brokers, shippers and motor carriers when they hear of any driver under pressure to disregard or skirt any federal or state regulation," said Gary Green, Business Services.

"For several month's now, we've let it be known to everyone in the industry we are quite serious about any attempt to intimidate or coerce drivers to violate hours of service or any other regulation. We're not just documenting reports of coercion, we're taking action," Green added.

Growing legislative support

The U.S. Congress and a growing number of states in May including Nebraska, Kansas and Texas introduced resolutions endorsing OOIDA's safety plan.

For example the Texas House of Representatives recognized OOIDA's effort, and designated June 2003 as National Truck Safety Month. The resolution says, in part, OOIDA's effort was of "particular interest to the Lone Star State which, as a primary conduit for U.S.-Mexican trade, relies heavily on the trucking industry to transport commercial goods to market."

Meanwhile, the federal resolution, sponsored by Missouri Rep. Sam Graves, asks President George W. Bush to issue a proclamation commending all truckers for their extra effort to comply with truck safety regulations. Graves serves on the House Agriculture, Small Business and Transportation committees.

Cosponsors include Rep. Roy Blunt, R-MO, Rep. Danny Davis, D-IL, Rep. Dan Burton, R-IN, Rep. James Moran, D-VA, Rep. Lee Terry, R-NE, Rep. Mac Collins, R-GA, Rep. Kevin Brady, R-TX, and Rep. Jim Oberstar, D-MN.

-- By Dick Larsen, senior editor