Truckers Association Moves to Have DOT Remove Truck Registries

January 2, 2011

OOIDA (Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association) in partnership with the Port Drivers Federation 18 and the New Jersey Motor Truck Association, have petitioned the Department of Transport (DOT) for the removal of compulsory drayage truck registries. Ports around the country have been maintaining mandatory registries and requiring truckers to adhere to local and state law regulations which, so OOIDA argues, are invalid and obstruction to interstate commerce under existing federal laws. The movement of the West coast, environmentally motivated registries to the East coast has sparked reaction amongst the trucking community.

The primary reason behind maintaining drayage truck registries is primarily to monitor environmental emissions and ensure compliance. Drivers and owners are variously required to purchase locally issued decals, affix radio tags (RFID – Radio Frequency Identification) as well as participate in numerous registries. The local and state reasoning may be sound, however the burden being placed on interstate operators is extremely high and this forms the bedrock of OOIDA's case.

Federal law already prohibits the formation of a patchwork of rules and administrative bureaucracy which will impede interstate commerce. If a carrier fails to demonstrate compliance they may have their license to operate in that jurisdiction revoked, exposing the operator to contractual penalties and reduced competition in the marketplace.

The scene is therefore set for a clash between the environmental camp on the one hand, with states such as California lining up behind it (in the form of the California Air Resources Board or CARB), and with commercial interests supporting removal of the registries and a federal prohibition on local interference in trucking operations.

In addition, federal rules already require registration and identification of trucks by their owners. Section 4306 of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act also acts a legal bar to the operation of local registration, which makes a great deal of sense. Also, OOIDA claims that s209(c) of the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act (also known as FAAAA) prohibits the establishment of local rules which impact the route, the price of the carrier service offered by operators. OOIDA and the other petitioners argue that under the auspices of environmental protection, local jurisdictions and port authorities are effectively operating a de facto regulatory regime of interstate commerce.

The issue will be determined by the Department of Transportation and overall OOIDA has a set of strong arguments. The question is whether the DOT will comply with the law, or bow to the environmentalists who are certainly going to be out in force for this decision.

With the trucking industry getting back on its feet after the worst recession in more than 60 years, it is crucial that impediments to economic revival are removed. Recent manufacturer and dealer data has demonstrated an increase in Q410 trailers and trucks for sale as economic activity heats upon, however any recovery is bound to be fragile - 2010 was a year full of expectation for economic recovery, however it is only towards the close of the year that signs of life emerged.

The big question is what does the country want - jobs and commerce or a clean environmental conscience?

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