Trucking Group Intensifies Fight Against “Discriminatory” Truck Parking Law
Washington, D.C. – The Small Business In Transportation Coalition (SBTC) is continuing their fight against the leaders of Midland, Texas, and a “discriminatory” city ordinance adopted last year which allows the city to fine truckers parked illegally on private/commercial property up to $500.
Last week SBTC filed an hours of service exemption application with the the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in response to what they deem a “violation of their Fourteenth Amendment Right to ‘Equal Protection of the Law.'”
In an exclusive interview with Transportation Nation Network (TNN), James Lamb, president of the SBTC, said his message to the FMCSA is simple, “Either preempt or exempt.” Lamb said the actions of Midland’s leaders is no way to treat the men and women who deliver the city’s goods.
“You can’t treat truckers this way,” he said. “You can’t treat working people like that and single them out based on their occupation. You can’t pass discriminatory policy against trucks.”
The request for exemption argues Midland’s city ordinance “deters and coerces drivers from complying with federal HOS regulations” since it prevents operators of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) within the city to cease operating after 11 hours of driving or 14 hours of being on duty or face a hefty fine.
Further, SBTC’s application contends, “This constitutes a “substantial violation,” “harassment,” and “coercion” in that operators of commercial motor vehicles are coerced by threat of property loss to keep driving –even if they are fatigued– in order to avoid the fine, thus jeopardizing public safety.”
The group is asking the FMCSA to preempt Midland’s ordinance writing, “Pursuant to Congress’ right to regulate interstate commerce, we therefore ask that the Federal Government find the City of Midland in substantial, institutional violation of 49 CFR 390.6 and act to preempt all municipalities, including the City of Midland, Texas, from enacting local ordinances that prevent interstate truck drivers from complying with the Federal HOS regulations.”
“You can’t treat truckers this way. You can’t treat working people like that and single them out based on their occupation. You can’t pass discriminatory policy against trucks.” – James Lamb, president of the SBTC
Lamb said he first learned of the situation in Midland through TNN’s reporting last August. TNN was the first trucking media source to report the now infamous comments of city councilman J. Ross Lacey during a local news piece about illegal truck parking.
You may recall Lacey made numerous inflammatory statements aimed at truckers. For example he said, “It’s completely disgusting. Obviously it’s posted,” referencing a “No Trucks” parking sign. Lacey continued, “What we need to do is step up our enforcement… and start going after these eighteen-wheelers.”
Lamb wrote to the mayor of Midland, Jerry Morales, last year after enforcement of the ordinance went into effect October 1st. “You don’t start a conversation by going around with the police department and hunting truck drivers,” Lamb wrote.
However, Lamb told TNN that Mayor Morales has not exactly been eager to respond. “They are ignoring all of this,” he commented. “They are not addressing us. I think we have them running scared.”
Not surprised by Midland’s unwillingness to engage in meaningful dialogue, Lamb said he wrote to the FMCSA in October, but was told “it was a local issue.” Still, Lamb and the SBTC continues their effort to “regulate the regulators,” as he likes to say.
Lamb believes if FMCSA allows Midland’s ordinance to remain in place it will pave the way for other cities and municipalities to enact similar measures as the parking shortage worsens. “Once they do this, and they get away with this, it is going to spread,” Lamb predicted. “That’s not something the trucking industry should stand for.”