The U.S. Department of Defense uses many small trucking companies to haul materials and these contracts are what keep a lot of the smaller carriers afloat. A new bill could seriously affect these small businesses as it seeks to reauthorize defense programs.
The DOD is responsible for about 70,000 loads a year given to both large and small carriers. Those carriers have to meet strict standards for both security and safety. As the bill is going through the renewing process, the National Transportation Safety Board and various safety groups are requiring even stricter standards for carriers contracting with the DOD. This could mean that smaller carriers might lose their contracts due to their economic inability to meet those new standards.
If the House Armed Services Committee imposes the new language they want to the renewal, carriers who haul military loads such as explosives, missiles, weapons and classified items would be forced to install collision warning systems and rollover stability systems. They would also be required to staff their offices 24 hours a day, seven days a week and maintain $15 million in public liability insurance.
Laura O’Neill, government affairs director for OOIDA, believes that this is an “attempt by someone to pretty much preclude small businesses from being able to haul that particular DOD freight. It has all of these safety requirements and technologies that small businesses typically don’t have. The military saves a lot of money by being able to contract with small businesses to haul freight that may be sensitive in nature but not necessarily harmful to the public if there is an accident. The language is really excessive, unnecessary, and designed to give a collective few a monopoly on this type of hauling.”
It’s difficult to break into the DOD market and this new language can make it even harder for small businesses to participate. There are plenty of truckers who have HazMat endorsements and are able to haul DOD loads, loads that are sensitive but not explosive and not in needs of rollover stability systems in order to protect the public.
If the bill is approved with the House language included, it could mean the end of several small carriers and increasingly tough financial situations for others. Truckers and carriers do not have to helplessly stand by and wait for the final version of the bill; state representatives can be contacted via phone, snail mail or email to make the wishes of the trucking industry known.