Congressional leaders and President Trump came to an agreement to seek a $2 trillion infrastructure bill. There is no agreement on how to pay for the improvement of the nation’s roads, bridges, waterways, and broadband. A meeting will be held to determine funding for the package and also what types of projects should be included.1
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) is an organization dedicated to fighting for the rights of all professional truck drivers and works to affect state and federal legislation regarding the trucking industry.2 The President and CEO of OOIDA, Todd Spencer, wrote a letter to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure chairman and another ranking member outlining what should be considered when drafting the infrastructure bill.3
OODIA believes the most equitable and efficient way for funding the highways is increasing the fuel tax to increase Highway Trust Fund revenues instead of using tolls.2 Research shows that 33 percent of revenue generated from tolls is wasted on administration, collection and enforcement costs.3 OODIA is open to the idea of a vehicle miles traveled tax but some members are frustrated with the high costs associated.
There is a national shortage of long-term parking for motor vehicles on the National Highway System. In 2012, a bill was signed to address this issue but all that resulted were digital signs telling truckers how many spaces were available at the rest stop ahead. Spencer wrote that this funding should go towards the actual expansion of truck parking, not to the ineffective signs.2
OODIA believes that Congress should implement time standards for detention; for example, what constitutes detention time and also make distinctions among the operational costs of the trucking industry. Another suggestion is to repeal the truck driver exemption in the Fair Labor Standards Act to make sure drivers are paid while on duty during detention, since they are required to be on duty by Federal law. “Congress must address the negative impacts excessive detention time has on driver compensation and the economy, which collectively costs truckers billions of dollars in lost wages and productivity annually,” Spencer says in the letter.2
In 2015, OOIDA met with 26 industry stakeholders recommending setting a minimum number of behind-the-wheel training.2 Training in the trucking industry is very important to increase safety for everyone on the road. The minimum number of hours was not set but the new driver training standards are scheduled to go into effect February 2020.
Drivers Under 21
Lowering the age requirements for the interstate CDL is a huge topic of conversation which, in part, derives from the shortage of drivers. OOIDA is against this stating that commercial motor vehicle drivers under 21 are more likely to be involved in crashes. Along with safety hazards, younger drivers can cause wages across the industry to go down since they are less experienced.
Congress is increasing the length of combination trailers. In the letter, Spencer argues that allowing longer trailers “would only benefit a handful of large corporate motor carriers but would have a negative impact on safety, infrastructure, and the rest of the trucking industry.” Larger and heavier trucks decrease safety and increase damage done to the roads.2