Thursday, November 3, 2016

Cost of ELD mandate too high for small business to bear

I have personally fought the ELD mandate every step of the way since I was the chairperson of the Minnesota Trucking Association in 2012. I never believed that professional truck drivers should be mandated to have an electronic log. If they choose to, that is a different story. Forcing them is un-American. What an insult to a group of professionals.

The reality of what this mandate is going to cost our small company is keeping me awake at night and stressing me out beyond words. Back in about 2009 I started doing some research on these things they called “electronic on-board recorders” or EOBRs. I couldn’t believe we were getting prices in the $200 to $300 per unit range.

I thought that was ridiculous. So we backed off and stuck with our paper logs; they worked just fine and cost way less.

Then the word “mandate” came about, and I really backed off. The last thing our small company needs is to be forced to buy a product we cannot afford. Our drivers also voiced their concern, saying they felt the devices would neither be helpful nor improve safety.

Fast forward to 2016, and now it seems we will be forced to buy a product we cannot afford. Except now the price has gone up to $1,200 per unit. And, yes, that would be per truck.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

What does the election mean for truckers?

The upcoming election is certainly the hot topic around the country. But, given the seemingly relentless legislative and regulatory attacks on truck drivers, this election in particular has many wondering what any outcome holds.

In fact, this upcoming election and its effect on truckers and trucking issues was a big topic of discussion during the OOIDA Board of Directors meeting held at OOIDA HQ this past month.

The short-version answer delivered to the board was that things rarely change much following a big election when it comes to trucking.

In addition to the obvious presidential election, a number of key congressional seats that are up for grabs involve lawmakers serving on committees overseeing trucking.

OOIDA Director of Legislative Affairs Jay Grimes reported that a number of longtime lawmakers who have served in key posts on trucking-related committees would be retiring at the end of the year. Names you may recognize retiring from the Senate include Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.; Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md.; Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.; and Sen. David Vitter, R-La.

In addition to those retirements, the OOIDA Government Affairs team is monitoring the elections of nine lawmakers up for re-election who currently serve on the powerful House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

“The issues for us don’t change much, regardless of who is in office,” OOIDA Executive President Todd Spencer told board members in his opening remarks. “On the regulatory front we are attacked by both sides. If we want regulators to treat small-business truckers fairly, we will have to fight to get that through to them.”

Monday, October 31, 2016

The Psychic Highway

Halloween is the time of year when you can dress however you want and talk about the occult without people questioning your sanity. This is a good time, therefore, to bring up the Psychic Highway.

As an avid reader, I always read a book related to the occult or monsters, a horror novel, or something related in October. This year, I’m reading “Occult America” by Mitch Horowitz. I came across a chapter titled “The Psychic Highway” that might change your perspective of U.S. Route 20.

A 3,365-mile stretch of highway connecting both coasts in the northern section of the country, US 20 is the longest road in the nation. Clearly the highway is essential for the movement of freight, but in the 18th and 19th century, the route (before it was a highway) was essential for the movement of ideas – more specifically, spreading the word of mystical religions.

In the early 19th century, western and central New York was known as the “burned-over district.” Coined by Charles Grandison Finney in his 1876 autobiography, the term refers to an area during the Second Great Awakening that was so evangelized as to have no “fuel” (unconverted population) left over to “burn” (convert).  

The Second Great Awakening was a sweeping religious movement that enrolled millions of converts. It used the power of mysticism and the supernatural to appeal to unconverted parties. During this time, western and central New York was virtually untouched in terms of religious clergy. With no professional clergy to guide a population, the area was ripe for the picking regarding spreading new and progressive ideas.

The Erie Canal connected the eastern and western ends of New York state, allowing migrants with mystical and spiritual religions to access the untapped land of unguided believers. In fact, historian Whitney Cross used the term “psychic highway” to describe the Erie Canal. After all, it spread the ideas of “psychic” mysticisms to the region.