Roses & Razzberries

By Terry Scruton, Land Line Now senior correspondent

ROSES to late U.S. Rep. James Oberstar, who passed away on May 3. Oberstar was, in the words of OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer, “a living encyclopedia” of transportation policy gathered during his decades of service in Congress.

He served as chairman of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee from 2007 to January 2011 and, as such, was instrumental in setting the direction for much transportation policy during that time.

While we may not have agreed on everything, there is no denying his contribution to the world of transportation.

Oberstar had a long relationship with OOIDA and was a contributor to Land Line Magazine, writing op-eds like the one he wrote in October of 2006 expressing his own doubts and concerns about the cross-border trucking program between the U.S. and Mexico.

ROSES to Trucker Charity and its Last Ride Home program. Let’s face it; losing a loved one who is a truck driver out on the road is every trucking family’s worst nightmare. And that nightmare gets even worse when the family can’t afford to bring their trucking loved one home.

Thankfully, the folks at Trucker Charity have stepped up and found a way to help folks out during this difficult time. Run completely by volunteers and funded by donations, the program will not only bring home the remains, but also go the extra mile to make sure the final journey is done with dignity and respect.

On one recent Last Ride Home earlier this year, the truck – driven by OOIDA Member Isaac Bland of Summerfield, Ill. – had a plaque on the back of the trailer featuring the name of the departed, his date of birth, date of death, “Last Ride Home,” and the words “Fallen brother going home.” The plaque was then presented to the family along with an American flag, folded military-style.

We would say this is a class act, but it’s no act. This is the real deal.

RAZZBERRIES to the FMCSA for its ongoing push to increase the minimum insurance requirements for motor carriers and others in the trucking industry.

A report the FMCSA issued earlier this year suggested that trucking companies – including owner-operators – need to carry a minimum of more than $3 million in insurance coverage. That’s quite a leap from the current minimum requirement of $750,000. What’s more, less than 1 percent of all insurance claims exceed that current $750,000 minimum.

Just so we have this straight – they want to make small-business truckers carry millions of dollars in coverage that will affect only a tiny fraction of the industry in the long run. And this will somehow magically translate to increased safety? The truth is, it won’t. The only thing it will increase is the bottom line of bottom-feeding lawyers.

ROSES to the state of Kentucky for being the latest in an ever-growing list of states to ban indemnification clauses in trucking contracts. These increasingly unpopular clauses prevent shippers from being held liable for damage to containers – even if it’s the shipper’s fault.

That these clauses even existed in the first place is astounding. But thankfully they seem to be finally on their way out. In fact, with Kentucky joining the list, there are just nine states left that still allow these clauses to exist. And all nine of those states are east of the Mississippi.

It’s like watching an old murder mystery movie, waiting to see which one will fall next. Only in this case, we’re rooting for the killers of these bad clauses.

RAZZBERRIES to the U.S. Department of Transportation and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx for their recently proposed version of the new surface transportation bill, which among other things calls for allowing states to place tolls on existing interstates.

In other words, they want to take roads that are already paid for and make us pay for them again. But the kicker is – under this proposal – that money doesn’t even have to be used for those roads. It can be funneled away and used for non-highway-related projects, such as mass transit.

And it’s pretty obvious to us who would foot much of the bill for all of this. The ones who use the roads the most – truckers. LL


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