By: Allen Smith
The upcoming Iowa Caucus will officially launch the 2016 race to the White House. Democrat or Republican, the incoming President of the United States will hold the power to shape the direction of the country’s future. Key concerns will naturally be National Security, Foreign Policy and Economic Growth, with opportunity for jobs and a living wage weighing heavy on many minds.
The U.S. President plays a major role in the future of the trucking industry and the professional truck driver as well, even if it is a seldom thought of his or her administration. As an example, the President is responsible for nominating the Secretary of Transportation who will lead the cabinet-level agency of the federal government with over 60,000 employees and a budget which will exceed $70 billion.
As just one example of a powerful agency, the Department of Transportation is responsible for helping maintain and develop the nation’s transportation systems and infrastructure as well as developing, implementing and finally, enforcing federal regulations governing the use of America’s transportation system. It will play key roles in major issues affecting the professional driver such as the previous debates on the implications of the North American Free Trade Association (NAFTA) and Mexico as an example.
From those who develop ideas for future laws, to the House and Senate who will approve the Bills, to the President of the United States who will sign or veto the Bill which could have a major impact on one’s livelihood, the election of a new President is one which should be taken with considerable gravity and earnestness.
In a nation of just under 322,914,000 people, 1 out of every 15 workers in the U.S. is employed within the trucking industry. There are approximately 3.5 million professional truck drivers in the United States and the total number of people employed in the industry, drivers and non-drivers alike, is just under 9 million. That is 9,000,000 potential voters that the 2016 Presidential Candidates should take very seriously as well.
Recently I posed the following question to the American Trucker via our social media network:
“If you could ask one question to the 2016 Presidential Candidates concerning the future of the trucking industry and your career as a professional driver what would it be?”
Questions that truckers who responded to the request would ask largely fell into two categories: Regulations and Wages. However, their questions additionally included hot issues such as lack of parking, infrastructure and the role of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Here are a few of those questions that those who keep America moving would demand to know from the next President of the United States:
- “Will you put forth serious effort to recognize truck drivers as skilled labor to increase their pay? Adding, also to make a blanket set of laws for DOT, companies, and drivers alike to follow that will benefit all parties?” Shawn K.
- “When is someone going to improve parking per Jason’s law and going to look at our wages as drivers which has actually decreased since deregulation.” Kimberly B.
- “I would ask if there should be more oversight of the FMCSA in their rules making processes that are backed by actual science.” Patti H.
- “I would ask them why the FMCSA has not implemented any driver training regulations. Congress mandated this back in the 90’s and should have been the first order of business when the FMCSA was created. Driver training is the keystone of the safety of trucking, so why has it been ignored.” Michael F.
- “What gives the interstate commerce clause the power to control our every move?” Kerry M.
One response had a very direct question as well concerning CARB, the California Air Resources Board:
- “It has been unequivocally and admittedly proven that the CARB regulations came from studies that were never performed, by “people” that never even existed and were completed fabricated through email.Since the implementation of these regulations and needed equipment and additives not only have expenses sky rocketed for the trucking industry based on fabricated and unproven data, but many drivers have lost their lives due to the extreme high temperatures these additives cause during “burn offs” and filter clogging. This is all in the name of being green and reducing the carbon footprint, when in reality it is causing more by-product waste, increasing commerce prices, decreasing driver pay, and essentially interfering with interstate commerce, which by the way is illegal. What, if anything, do you plan to do to go about removing and revoking this scam and increase the work flow of interstate commerce and trucking?” Sierra S.
As an experienced and veteran trucker, Jeff C. would ask:
- “What are you going to do to fix the roads and bridges?
In contrast, another would ask the straight-forward question regarding the role of the government within the trucking business:
- “How would you get the Government out of the Transportation Industry?” Richard C.
The 2016 Presidential Candidates await the results of the Iowa Caucus, then on to New Hampshire. The 3.5 million strong truckers and 9 million strong industry workers will need to let their voices be heard in deciding who will be the next President of the United States and the one who will lead the way in rebuilding what many see as a broken industry.