Hey, Congress

Fleets have some suggestions for you

We’ve just completed a major survey of our readers, asking them a number of questions about the issues they face in running their fleets. Some of the results were not too surprising—the state of the economy is the chief concern for the majority. And some, like the general opinion on electronic driver logs, were unexpected.

“What’s on your mind” (page 36) offers a detailed look at the survey results, focusing on the most pressing concerns and plans of all types of fleets. But the feature leaves out one thing. Like the typical survey, the majority of questions were designed for multiple choice answers so we could present the findings in statistical or chart form. At the end of the survey, though, we thought it might be instructive—and a bit of fun—to pose an open-ended, fill-in-the-blank question: If you could get Congress to do one thing to help your business, what would it be?

Turns out you had a lot to say. Virtually every returned survey had a suggestion for our federal representatives in Washington. As you might imagine, some of them aren’t repeatable, but I thought I should share some of those that are.

Many of the most pointed comments involved the current state of political stalemate and Congress’ s inability to address budget and fiscal issues. “Resolve the budget issues” was perhaps the most polite. “Work together to come up with a budget with short- and long-term solutions to our financial problems,” the most detailed. And “Get off their duffs and fix our budget,” the most colorful.

Perhaps reflecting that fleets rank the national economy as their number one concern, the general instability created by a Congress unable to overcome political differences came in for its share of comment as well. One fleet manager’s suggestion for Congress: “End the status quo of doing nothing on everything. Start making decisions that help the country instead of acting like children playing the blame game.”

Comments more specifically related to trucking largely revolved around fuel prices and regulation, or what many obviously see as over-regulation of the industry by government.

Many were simply pleas for Congress to address not just high fuel prices, but the volatility we’ve experienced over the past few years. “Lower fuel prices” was the fill-in-the-blank answer multiple times. A few asked Congress to get speculators and traders out of the fuel market to help control price, and others urged them to adopt a workable energy policy. While lowering the fuel tax was mentioned, creating a simpler uniform system that would reduce the paperwork was also a popular suggestion. And creating incentives for natural gas conversion was mentioned numerous times.

By far, the most frequent suggestion was about regulation. The drawn-out process of revising hours of service received much of the vehement criticism, with “Stop changing the HOS” summing up opinions succinctly. Problems with current CSA reporting also came in for comment, as did EPA emissions rules. Some respondents, though, didn’t fault the regulations, only their inconsistent application: “One state will enforce rules while others do not. There is no national cohesion on policies and practices.” And “Be stronger with the carriers who are flying under the radar.” By necessity, our survey reached only a percentage of our readership, so you may not have had a chance to participate. If you’d like to tell us one thing that Congress could do to help your business, we’ve created a place at fleetowner.com where you can leave your suggestion. And while you’re there, take a few minutes to read the suggestions of your fellow Fleet Owner readers. I think you’ll find their common sense refreshing and often entertaining as well.

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