Government Oversight: Where Do We Draw the Line?

By Eric Braun, Senior Writer, USRW

The liberal newspaper, The New York Times, has given President Obama the title of “Regulator in Chief” whose interference and regulatory demands have a significant effect on the $748 billion trucking industry. Although the industry was deregulated in 1980, the Federal Agencies have done little to leave the industry to regulate itself.

The trucking industry is still heavily regulated by the Department of Transportation (DOT), Labor, The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and our friends at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). These federal agencies monitor safety, hours of service (HOS) emissions, onboard recorders, training requirements, speed governors, sleep apnea testing, visas for foreign drivers, and drug testing.

There are plenty of workers to make sure you are playing nice and following the law. It is estimated by Washington University that there are 279,000 federal workers riding shotgun with you electronically. For the sake of comparison, in 1960 there were about 57,000.

Since they are your “big brother”, make them buy you lunch at the next rest stop. 

Regulation is not a bad thing; most of us follow the regulations and laws, just want to be safe, and are willing to do our part. There should be a level of comfort knowing those peers you share the road with are being kept in check. That leads to a sense of safety for us all.

However, we all know how frustrating it is to deal with federal agencies, and at times we are left with no alternative to fight a perceived injustice without the headache of red tape and bureaucratic dung. Get an agent who had a bad night and the mood transfers to you and your issue.  The problem starts to manifest when we are drowning in fees and endless paperwork, permits, testing etc. We start to wonder if this is just a cash cow or job security for legislators  and the inspectors as well.

The U.S. DOT mission statement is to “Serve the United States by ensuring a fast, safe, efficient, accessible and convenient transportation system that meets our vital national interests and enhances the quality of life of the American people, today and into the future."

Such a lofty goal looks good on paper, and the Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx has the right idea, but to what expense and extent to the Professional Driver who is already over regulated. One of the key projects is truck movement. Speed limiting devices could save an estimated $1.1 billion in fuel costs and millions of gallons of fuel annually. “Safe trucking moves our economy," said FMCSA Administrator T.F. Scott Darling III. “This proposal will save lives while ensuring that our nation’s fleet of large commercial vehicles operates fuel efficiently.”

Foxx added “There are significant safety benefits to this proposed rule. In addition to saving lives, the projected fuel and emissions savings make this proposal a win for safety, energy conservation, and our environment.” 

Is our industry over regulated? Is it a double whammy when we pass the stringent federal requirements only to get stopped at a checkpoint, therefore losing precious time and money thanks to an overzealous officer?

This is your livelihood Road Warriors, what do you propose as a compromise to responsible regulation without impeding our ability to do our jobs?

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