Truckers Say Steve Cohen of Memphis Threatens Their Industry

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Steve Cohen, a Democrat representing Tennessee’s Ninth Congressional District, is sponsoring one of four bills in Congress that members of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association say would impose burdensome, costly, and unsafe trucking mandates.

The OOIDA is based out of Kansas City, Mo.

OOIDA members oppose government mandates they say would require heavy vehicles to install underride guards, speed limiters and automatic emergency braking systems. The coalition also opposes a bill that would increase minimum insurance requirements for motor carriers by over $4 million, according to a press release.

“Unlike our coalition partners, supporters of these mandates know virtually nothing about trucking,” a press release quoted Todd Spencer, OOIDA president and CEO as saying.

“The unfortunate reality is these mandates would likely decrease safety, not improve it, while imposing astronomically high costs on a wide variety of industries. That’s the point we’re conveying to Congress.”

Coalition members estimate the four mandates would cost them tens-of-billions of dollars. They say these four bills are “primarily an opportunity for trial lawyers to receive greater payouts at the expense of U.S. businesses.”

OOIDA members sent a letter saying as much to members of the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation this week and asked them to reject those four bills outright.

They also sent the letter to members of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

Cohen is sponsoring the Stop Underrides Act. That bill, if enacted into law, would require the installation of front, side, and rear underride guards on all trailers with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating that exceeds 10,000 pounds. The same would go for all single unit trucks with a GVWR greater than 10,000 pounds and a carriage that is more than 22 inches above the ground.

“The requirements of this legislation are simply unworkable. Certain trailers, including low boys and auto transporters, aren’t capable of being fitted with side or rear underride guards,” OOIDA members said in a press release.

“The bill mandates front underride guards on single unit trucks, yet no front underride equipment is currently available on the market because the concept lacks any practicality. And the installation of side underride guards strong enough to achieve their supposed safety value would create serious operational challenges for drivers, and displace a significant amount of payload.”

Members of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have consistently said mandates are impractical and the costs associated with them would far outweigh any perceived safety benefits, the press release went on to say.

The OOIDA is the largest, national trade association representing the interests of small-business trucking professionals and professional truck drivers, according to a press release.

The organization currently has more than 160,000 members nationwide, the press release went on to say.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to
Photo “OOIDA” by OOIDA.





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