2015 Grassroots Guide
Helping truckers make an impact

By Ryan Bowley, OOIDA director of government affairs

I could fill a column (probably a whole issue of Land Line) listing the number of issues percolating in Washington and in state capitals that would affect truckers. These aren’t just bills and budgets, but also regulations and guidance that take the broad policies passed by legislators and implement them out on the road.

It’s hard enough for the average trucker to keep focused on all of this when you are also focused on, well, being a trucker. You are balancing your business, your family, and taking action on policy issues when you can, but it’s not always possible to fit that in.

One of the most important things that OOIDA and the government affairs staff here in D.C. do is help keep you up to speed on what is going on and what is important for you to take action on.

Active and engaged truckers are the force behind the shoe leather we burn walking the marble halls of Capitol Hill, helping bring home the issues we talk about with lawmakers and staff. Frequently we visit with staffers who already understand the issues we are talking about because of relationships you have built with them.

Often the schedules of trucking and the schedules of Capitol Hill don’t match up. You can’t call when the offices are open to take your call, and when you can call, they aren’t open. Even worse, sometimes when the schedules do match up, phones are busy because other folks are trying to call about other issues.

Last spring, OOIDA launched This website enables you to have an impact with lawmakers when it works for you and your schedule, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The response from OOIDA members and other truckers to the site has been phenomenal. Tens of thousands of messages, both e-mails and phone calls, have been sent out through the site, affecting issues such as FMCSA’s rush to increase insurance or addressing restrictions on hours-of-service rules.

It might be hard to tell that a message is getting through in Washington, but we know that is helping you get through to lawmakers like never before!

The best part is that it takes only a few clicks of your mouse or taps of your finger. OOIDA has already drafted an email message for you to send. If you want to change the message you can, but sending a quick message couldn’t be easier.

Building a relationship with your lawmakers’ staff and educating them about trucking is still the most important step you can take to have an impact over the long-term. Email messages, like those sent via, play a different, but important role.

In congressional offices, computer systems are used by staff to collect, count and respond to the messages received from constituents. Letters, emails, phone calls, faxes and everything else goes into this system.

One of the most important ways offices use these systems is to understand what issues constituents are contacting them about. In most offices, there is a weekly meeting where the lawmaker will get a quick briefing about what the top five or 10 issues folks back home are contacting them about. Getting on that list is one of the keys to gaining the attention of the office.

With Congress developing and debating a new highway bill in the next few months, truckers need to be active and engaged in Washington. We need to take every opportunity and every avenue to break through the noise from our opponents and from other issues.

OOIDA is all about fighting for truckers, and with truckers now have another tool to be part of that fight. LL