Small businesses just as concerned about freight efficiency as the big boys

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | 9/20/2012

OOIDA is encouraging small-business truckers to participate in a U.S. DOT-sponsored discussion about freight efficiency, to make sure the agency takes detention time, truck parking, truck size and weight and other issues into account once the new highway bill takes effect.

The U.S. Department of Transportation is conducting the National Dialogue on MAP-21 Transportation Performance Measures online as part of the new highway law known as Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century. MAP-21 takes effect Oct. 1, but the DOT wants input on freight policy and efficiency by Sunday, Sept. 23. Visit to register, view topics and comment.

“Detention time is a good efficiency conversation to have. Those are the things the agency needs to hear about,” said OOIDA Director of Legislative Affairs Ryan Bowley.

The DOT is seeking input tied to three main areas, according to the website: the condition and performance of the freight system; state freight planning; and “elements of a national freight strategic plan.”

Bowley, who recently attended a stakeholder meeting on the DOT’s national freight policy, said small-business truckers are just as concerned about efficiency as large carriers and shippers.

He says the big boys will be at the table pushing for longer-heavier trucks, speed-limiters, electronic on-board recorders, so it’s important that small businesses reach out.

“Efficiency doesn’t have to always be what the shipper wants,” Bowley said.

“If you’re looking at efficiency, and your measurement is how it benefits the bottom line of the shipper, you’re only looking at it halfway. For the full picture, you also need to look at how it affects the driver, the motor carrier, and especially the small-business trucker who is the backbone of the nation’s trucking industry.”

The website is easy to navigate once a user is registered. The site works kind of like a forum, similar to a news site that allows a reader to respond to articles. It also contains a button that allows the user to start a new topic.

“If they’ve got time, some of the core things that we’re weighing-in to DOT on are truck parking and the size and weight issue,” Bowley said.

OOIDA has worked closely with lawmakers and the Federal Highway Administration to make safe truck parking a priority, and the Association supports the “Jason’s Law” provision in MAP-21.

On the size and weight issue, OOIDA supports the current freeze at 80,000 pounds on five axles as a matter of highway safety and to keep highways and bridges from wearing out faster.

“The folks who want things like heavier-longer trucks are going to be weighing in to the agency,” says Bowley. “And we will weigh in as an association, but it’s important that the agencies hear from those who are actually out there experiencing this every day.”

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