WASHINGTON — Thanks to America’s truck drivers and their willingness to risk infection from COVID-19, store shelves remain stocked and critical supplies continue to be transported across the nation’s highways.
After this phase of the crisis is over and recovery begins, truckers will still have the same challenges with overregulation, working conditions and pay, according to the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), an organization that represents 160,000 small-business truckers and professional drivers. The association sent a letter to Congress April 6 that outlines issues OOIDA sees as top priority moving forward. Click here to view the letter.
“Without any sort of work-from-home option, truckers are manning the front lines of the industry as they always have done,” said Todd Spencer, OOIDA president and CEO. “They certainly welcome the public praise from all who have noticed their role in the pandemic response. But they will need more than words to stay afloat in an uncertain future.”
OOIDA has asking Congress to prioritize the following:
- R. 6104, the Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act, should be passed to address the shortage of parking for trucks. This bipartisan legislation would provide dedicated funding for projects that expand truck parking capacity.
- Congress must support efforts by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) efforts to modernize and improve hours-of-service (HOS) regulations. Truckers shouldn’t just get temporary relief when the nation needs their help in responding to an emergency.
- Congress must take steps to address the persistent problem of excessive detention time, which reduces driver wages, slows the movement of freight and has been linked to increased crash rates. Many drivers spend countless unpaid on-duty hours being detained due to the inefficiency of others within the supply chain.
- Congress must repeal the overtime exemption for employee drivers in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The average truck driver works 60 to 70 hours per week, which is rarely, if ever, reflected in their compensation.
- Congress must waive the 2020 payment of the Heavy Vehicle Use Tax (HVUT) to provide immediate tax relief to owner-operators, many of which are struggling to keep their businesses operational during and after the crisis.
“These aren’t necessarily the only issues in trucking that need to change to bring improvements,” Spencer said. “But memes and applause don’t pay bills or reduce the overregulation that keep them from making a living. These are things that Congress can move quickly on to help truck drivers.”
The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only TheTrucker.com, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.