The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), along with other industry stakeholders sent a letter to Congress this week, urging it to stop the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) increasing federally mandated levels of financial responsibility coverage for property and passenger motor carriers.
The letter was sent to the U.S. House Transportation-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee and signed by national, regional and state associations representing a wide range of transportation entities, including trucking, school buses, motor coaches, agricultural and others.
The industry groups signing the letter say the proposed rule would place significant financial burdens on truck fleets without any improvement to highway safety.
The letter states, “The FMCSA is proceeding largely based on a very flawed study which focused on increased health care costs and did not even consider the entire passenger carrier segment. This action comes despite data from the agency and insurance claims showing that current requirements cover damages in more than 99 percent of all crashes.”
Todd Spencer, OOIDA’s executive vice president, said, “Many small carriers — some of the safest motor carriers operating on our nation’s highways — will simply be unable to afford or obtain coverage at higher mandated levels.”
He said the FMCSA is responsible for ensuring that undue burden is not placed small businesses and that there is no disruption to transportation services.
The letter emphasizes, “The FMCSA’s approach to date has largely ignored these core requirements as well as any need to show data-driven safety benefits from this sweeping rulemaking. As such, our organizations urge Congress to take action and halt the FMCSA from advancing rulemakings to increase financial responsibility for both for-hire and private property and passenger motor carriers.”
Also this week, OOIDA representatives gave testimony on behalf of professional and small business truckers before the U.S. House Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee on Highways and Transit.
OOIDA told Congress that the FMCSA needs to have a review of existing safety regulations for their effectiveness and impact on highway safety.
The trucking association said that instead of a reasoned understanding and approach to improving highway safety by addressing the key factors behind at-fault truck crashes, FMCSA policy and enforcement is hyper-focused on absolute compliance with the letter of every single regulation — no matter the connection to at-fault crashes.
OOIDA contends that under its current methodology, the agency’s safety scoring system inaccurately paints safe, small carriers as unsafe, reducing access to business and opening them up to misguided enforcement activities. Meanwhile, truly unsafe carriers that crash frequently get ignored.
One of OOIDA’s greatest concerns is that the FMCSA’s approach will force many of the safest drivers and carriers out of the industry because it inhibits them from being successful small- business owners.
The association also says that the current focus on technology initiatives actually hinders safety by placing more pressure on drivers when they are already caught between a regulatory rock and an economic hard place. Technology should not be a substitute for skilled professional drivers, as it results in drivers more focused on not triggering an alert than on making smart, safe driving decisions.