New House Bill Seeks to Overhaul Trucking Industry

In late January, the US House of Representatives introduced a new bill that purports to make sweeping changes to the trucking industry, The Safer Highways and Increased Performance for Interstate Trucking (SHIP IT) Act. A bipartisan bill sponsored by Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) and Jim Costa (D-CA), proponents hope it will help companies recruit and maintain more drivers and maintain the country’s vital supply chain. So, what is the SHIP IT Act, and how will it help owner-operators?

What Does the SHIP IT Act Include for Drivers?

The SHIP IT Act includes several measures to help boost the number of drivers over the next few years. Key among these is,

  • A tax credit that would last for 2 years providing $7,500 a year for experienced drivers and $10,000 a year for new drivers
  • Assurance that driver training is covered by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) grants
  • Streamlining of the CDL (commercial driver’s license) process to make testing more accessible

“We need to recruit, train, and retain truck drivers to keep our supply chain moving while also updating best practices to improve trucking to fit our modern economy,” Costa said of the bill.

New House Bill Seeks to Overhaul Trucking Industry

What Else Does the SHIP IT Act Include?

In addition to the above provisions that will help make it easier for drivers to enter and stay in business, the bill addresses other operational and safety factors that affect the industry. Some of these provisions include,

  • Competitive grants to states and private entities to create safe truck parking opportunities
  • A pilot program to measure the safety of six-axle vehicles
  • More practical zero-emission standards and guidelines
  • Easing the process for waiving truck weight limits

“The SHIP IT Act will bridge gaps, keep costs down for consumers, and make it easier for shippers to move products across the U.S.” Rep. Johnson said of the bill.

What’s the Bottom Line for Owner Operators?

The SHIP IT Act is the spiritual and material successor of last year’s ocean reform bill that addressed overseas trade. SHIP IT focuses attention on domestic shipping, offering financial incentives to drivers and relief for fleets and companies who have found themselves pinched between dwindling drivers and cumbersome regulations. It also addresses safety concerns around the lack of overnight parking for long-haul truckers. Overall, the bill moves the industry in a positive direction, balancing the needs of drivers and businesses while helping the industry continue to modernize.

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