Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association
For Immediate Release
Legislation introduced to fix FHWA interpretation of auto transporter definition
(Grain Valley, Mo., June 26, 2019)– The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is ecstatic that U.S. Representative Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-03) introduced HR 3474, legislation that would statutorily correct an issue important to the auto transporter community.
“We use the term ‘ecstatic’ because it’s truly the way we feel about this bill,” said Mike Matousek, OOIDA Manager of Government Affairs. “When it’s enacted, it will ensure that traditional auto transporters can use the applicable front and rear overhang that they’ve been using since the mid-1980s.”
In 2004, the Federal Highway Administration unnecessarily revised its interpretation of longstanding regulations that govern the auto transporter industry. In effect, at that time the agency decided that to be considered an automobile transporter, the power unit (i.e. the truck) must be capable of carrying cargo.
OOIDA maintains that such an interpretation is wrong and pressed FHWA to fix it in 2015. However, it wasn’t until 2017 that this issue received the attention it deserves when FHWA decided to docket it and request comments from interested stakeholders.
“Across the federal bureaucracy, unnecessary regulatory guidance creates vast uncertainty in what should be simple regulations,” said Congressman Luetkemeyer. “A perfect example is the confusion surrounding the FHWA definition of an ‘auto-transporter,’ deeming virtually indistinguishable differences between auto transporters acceptable or unacceptable according to federal regulators. My bill will ensure our hardworking Missouri drivers can stay on the road by clarifying the definition and codifying this fix into law.”
While OOIDA is optimistic FHWA will soon address this issue in a positive way, the association also believes a permanent fix is necessary.
“This issue was changed in 2004 using regulatory guidance, which is a much less formal regulatory process. Regardless of what the current administration does, we’re still going to seek a statutory fix so future administrations don’t mess it up again. This is one reason why Congressman Luetkemeyer’s bill is so important and we appreciate his leadership and commitment to getting it done,” said Matousek.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is the largest national trade association representing the interests of small-business trucking professionals and professional truck drivers. The Association currently has more than 160,000 members nationwide. OOIDA was established in 1973 and is headquartered in the greater Kansas City, Mo. area.