OOIDA and ATA Leaders UNLOAD on Lawmakers About “Dysfunctional” Trucking Industry
Washington D.C. – Leaders from the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) and the American Trucking Associations (ATA) expressed a multitude of concerns about the state of the trucking industry in a U.S. Senate hearing on Tuesday.
At a Senate Transportation and Safety Subcommittee hearing on Tuesday, OOIDA Executive Vice President Lewie Pugh and ATA President Chris Spear unloaded on lawmakers about numerous issues facing the trucking industry.
According to Chairwoman Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE), the hearing was to “examine the state of the trucking industry in the United States, truck safety issues, and the regulatory environment from the stakeholder perspective.”
Spear was up first and gave a blistering rebuke to lawmakers for allowing America’s infrastructure to continue dilapidating.
“America cannot lead with third-world infrastructure,” Spear said. “Trucking is 4-percent of the vehicles on our roads, we pay half the tab into the highway trust fund (HTF) and we’re willing to pay more.”
Spear continued, “Trucking now loses 70 billion dollars each year sitting in congestion. That’s 425,000 drivers sitting idle for an entire year with 67 million tons of CO2 being emitted. Passenger vehicle drivers now lose $1,600 a year due to traffic and repairs. These are the costs of doing nothing.”
He touted the ATA’s Build America Fund (BAF) proposal which would impose a “new 20 cent per gallon fee built into the price of transportation fuels collected at the terminal rack, to be phased in over four years.”
ATA says the BAF would generate $340 billion in new revenue.
Spears said if Congress enacted the plan it would “shore up” the HTF “without adding a dime to the deficit.”
He also urged lawmakers to pass the DRIVE Safe Act which, if enacted, would allow drivers as young as 18 years old to participate in interstate commerce.
Spears asserted the legislation is needed due to a driver shortage and historic lows in unemployment.
“Trucking’s now short 60,800 drivers and must hire 1.1 million new drivers over the next decade, made harder by a 50-year low unemployment. We need more women, minorities, veterans, exiting servicemen and women, and a focus on improving the safety, health and wellness of our current workforce. We need access to the next generation of drivers.”
Pugh got his opportunity to rebut Spear’s claims of a driver shortage, but first directed his ire at congressional leaders.
“If you asked most drivers what Congress has done recently to help their profession, the answer would be simple… nothing,” he stated.
He proceeded to deliver a withering critique, saying, “From the perspective of small business motor carriers and professional drivers, the state of the trucking industry is dysfunctional. This is because too many people who know virtually nothing about trucking have an oversized role in shaping trucking policies.”
He urged lawmakers to “repeal the failed ELD mandate,” along with numerous other admonitions.
“Do not mandate speed limiters. Do not mandate front and side underride guards. Do not mandate higher insurance minimums. Do not enact VMTs for trucks-only and do not expand tolling authority.”
Pugh then called out ATA and other groups pushing for the passage of the DRIVE Safe Act on the basis of a “myth.”
“Do not pass the DRIVE Safe Act. Contrary to what other associations repeat constantly, there is no driver shortage. The notion of a driver shortage isn’t supported by facts or data or reputable research. In other words, it’s a myth.”
Also participating in the hearing were representatives from the Livestock Marketing Association, the Truck Safety Coalition, and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance.
WATCH the entire hearing below.
Stay logged onto TransportationNation.com for more news from this hearing.