Face time

By DuWayne Marshall, OOIDA Life member

Everyone knows that DC has gone into overdrive. It seems like every time I turn on the radio, check the Land Line daily news or check my email, there’s another regulation or bill proposed that will further regulate trucking.

This stuff is just flying at us with no end in sight. It’s exhausting, really.

I have actively communicated with my Wisconsin lawmakers for years. But with this all-out assault on trucking and the fact I represent truckers as a member of the OOIDA Board of Directors, I knew I had to do more.

I made the decision to shut my truck down for a few days and go to Washington, DC, to meet face to face with my lawmakers. I contacted OOIDA for assistance in scheduling the meetings, made my flight arrangements, and my wife and I took off.

I wasn’t the only one. Board Alternate Henry Albert also made the trip to DC right after me, and met with his lawmakers. While I can’t speak for him, I know we both had positive meetings.

While I had no idea what to expect, both Sen. Ron Johnson and Rep. Tom Petri were very engaging and knew a great deal about where I live in Wisconsin. I also was impressed with Sen. Herb Kohl’s staff who met with me. They all listened intently as we discussed the issues facing trucking, and how they will affect small-business owners like me.

Throughout the meetings, they both spoke freely, even tossing out possible ideas and solutions to the problems we face.

I came to realize these lawmakers are lobbied every day on every issue under the sun. While we can talk our trucking jargon with acronyms such as HOS, EOBRs and things like that, I was careful to explain our position in terms that everyone could understand and relate to.

For example, I explained that maximum kingpin to rear axle distances are not just difficult for us to deal with, but also a danger to others. With pending rules on strengthening ICC bumpers, I showed them that by eliminating these maximums, more ICC bumper regs aren’t needed. Sliding the rear tandems back will keep cars from running under trailers just as well. And they agreed it is a simple solution to the big problem of rear-end collisions.

In the end, with OOIDA’s help – the halls of Congress can be a bit overwhelming, and not just logistically – the visit was a resounding success. I know that sacrificing my time and some income can’t help but effect change and reap some dividends in the end.

With everything coming at us and all the pressure from big business interest groups, it’s time to step up our game. A little face time if you can swing it, be it in DC or when your lawmaker is home on a break, will go a long way. Trust me. LL