The Owner-Operator Independent Driver Association is asking truckers to strictly comply with safety regulations in June in hopes that a resulting slowdown in operations will bring attention to the pressure put on truckers to operate beyond legal hours of service.
OOIDA’s board voted Nov. 1 to promote and sponsor OOIDA Truck Safety Month in June so it would coincide with the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s annual national commercial vehicle inspection week.
Association President Jim Johnston said members had asked about ways they could bring attention and change to common situations truckers encounter, such as uncompensated wait time and the need for a practical hours-of-service rule. Strict compliance with regulations is expected to decrease productivity by as much as 30 percent, he said.
“The rest of the industry will begin feeling some of the pain for that time,” Johnston said. “It’s time the rest of the folks became aware of the burden.”
OOIDA does not support shutdowns or strikes because they have been ineffective in the past and legal action could be taken against participants, said Todd Spencer, OOIDA executive vice president.
OOIDA’s safety campaign will seek endorsements from groups and agencies, including federal transportation and safety officials and the CVSA. The association is also buying ads in Capitol Hill publications and seeking the support of safety and trade groups.
OOIDA recently sent letters to motor carriers, requesting the companies’ endorsement.
The letters also will warn carriers against using intimidation to get truckers to violate compliance, which is the biggest concern truckers have voiced about participating.
Any trucker, including non-OOIDA members, can receive help through the association’s business services department. If carriers, shippers, receivers or brokers try to intimidate truckers into non-compliance, such as demanding a load be delivered by a certain time even when it means an hours violation, they can contact OOIDA for help.
The association says it will determine the best course of action for each situation, which in some cases will be to contact the company allegedly using force or intimidation. In the most severe cases, OOIDA will involve a seven-lawyer firm to help. Two additional lawyers have volunteered their services as well, Johnston said.
The U.S. Department of Transportation, in an agreement filed in federal court, agreed to issue a final hours-of-service rule by May 31. That Feb. 24 agreement was made to settle a lawsuit filed by several safety groups charging that the DOT had missed several legal deadlines for issuing safety rules.
Whether or not the new HOS will improve life for truckers remains to be seen, but Johnston is not optimistic. “If those regulations are more restrictive than the current ones, which are overly restrictive, and if previous proposed hours-of-service rules are any indication, the new ones will be too restrictive,” he said.
Since the OOIDA campaign is voluntary, it will be difficult to measure how many participate. “There’s no exact way to measure support, except by the screams from shipper,” Johnston said, referring to the expected drop in productivity resulting from compliance.