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Trucking Industry Deregulation Remarks Announcing Proposed Legislation.

June 21, 1979

THE PRESIDENT. The importance of this announcement is vividly demonstrated by those who have assembled here to initiate a major objective in the Congress.

When I ran for President, I promised to work vigorously to lift the heavy hand of Government regulation from the American free enterprise economy whenever possible and whenever consistent with the national interests and whenever consistent with the best interests of the American people.

Today I am proposing legislation that will reduce the redtape and the excess regulations that have strangled and straitjacketed the trucking industry of America for the last 40 years.

Unnecessary and sometimes absolutely nonsensical regulations issued by the Federal Government concerning the trucking industry of our country are costing American consumers billions of dollars every year in higher transportation costs and on almost every food item and manufactured item and raw material that we use.

There is a gross waste of energy, a duplication of effort, a high degree of inefficiency in one of the most crucial industries of our country. Too many trucks are rattling back and forth empty on the road today, burning up precious diesel fuel because the ICC rules prohibit two-way hauling. Some trucking firms can deliver all the ingredients necessary to make soup to a factory, but are forbidden from hauling soup away from the factory.

Other rules defy human imagination. Some truckers can haul milk; they can't haul butter. They can haul cream; they can't haul cheese. Others can transport paint in 2-gallon cans; they can't haul paint in 5-gallon cans. Some truckers are allowed to haul bananas; they can't haul pineapple. They can haul pineapple and bananas if they are mixed. [Laughter]

Our highways are filled with truckers driving miles out of their way, because the ICC requires for them to follow specific routes that defy rhyme or reason. One trucking firm, for instance, must go from Denver to Albuquerque by way of Salt Lake City, an unnecessary detour of 300 miles.

The ICC regulations strangle competition. Trucking companies are allowed to meet together in secret to set rates, a practice that would be absolutely illegal price-fixing in almost any other business.

It's difficult, if not impossible, for new trucking firms to enter the industry. This is one reason why minorities own less than 1 percent of all interstate moving companies. ICC requirements also shortchange small towns and small cities by forbidding truckers to make intermediate stops along their assigned routes, even though they pass through the small town in question.

Restrictions like these are symbols of Government regulations gone wild. They do not make economic sense. They waste millions of gallons of fuel. They breed a climate of disrespect for the law. They exclude Americans from entering one of the country's most important major industries.

Today I'm sending to the Congress the Trucking Competition and Safety Act of 1979, which will end all the abuses that I've described to you and at long last bring sensible Federal regulation to the trucking industry.

This bill will immediately remove all certificate restrictions on two-way trips and intermediate stops. It will gradually remove all other route restrictions by the year 1983. It will end price-fixing. It will encourage price competition, the formation of new trucking firms, and other forms of competitive behavior. It will improve service to our small communities. It will strengthen the Department of Transportation's ability to improve truck safety on our Nation's highways. And it will help all Americans in the battle against inflation by reducing the cost of shipping throughout the United States, which touches almost every single item that Americans use.

Soon I will send to the Congress proposals which will ensure that consumers receive increased protection in the household goods moving industry.

The best anti-inflation medicine, in my opinion, is real competition under the American free enterprise system. Airline deregulation has already saved American travelers over $2 1/2 billion in reduced air fares. Air travel has increased; the profits of the American airline companies has also increased. According to the Council on Wage and Price Stability, this trucking. deregulation bill will save American consumers $5 billion.

America's free economy has provided the greatest material blessing to us of any nation on Earth. I'm determined to bring common sense, equity, and efficiency to the entire regulatory process, so that the strength of our economy can be realized and the public good can be served and protected. These proposals are a major step toward that goal.

Who is for this legislation? There are organizations represented here which indicate an answer to that question: farm families who produce grain, cattle, other livestock; processors of food; retail merchants; small business leaders; consumers; manufacturers; independent business people; representatives of State government, city government, county government; those who are interested in improved highway safety; those who are interested in the conservation of energy; those who are interested in controlling inflation. Those are some of the people who are for this legislation.

Who's against it? Some truckers who now have a noncompetitive advantage and who want to perpetuate a Government bureaucracy to protect such interests.

Many Members of the Congress have played a major role in pursuing the concept of deregulation for many years quite effectively. The House Members, as you may know, are now involved in a very important series of votes and debates on the Panama implementation legislation. But I would like to mention Chairman Bizz Johnson, who cannot be here now because of that vote, but who was instrumental in passing, insofar as the House is concerned, the airline deregulation bill; Chairman Jim Howard, head of the Subcommittee on Highway Transportation, who will be holding hearings on this legislation throughout the country and who's pledged to me personally a fair hearing on this legislation; Senator Howard Cannon, who is here, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee—he was one of the leaders in putting forward the airline deregulation bill through the Senate last year—Senator Charles Percy, who drafted the trucking safety bill, extracts from which have been incorporated in this new 1979 legislation; and Senator Ted Kennedy, who has been in the forefront of all phases of regulatory reform in a very effective way for many years. He will be sponsoring this legislation, working closely with the other men that I have mentioned here. He was the first to suggest a comprehensive approach to trucking deregulation.

I consider this legislation to be one of the most important proposals that I have ever made to the Congress, and I want to express again this afternoon my deep appreciation to the leaders in Congress, whom I've named, along with many others who have been instrumental in bringing us this far.

And I would like to ask all those organizations represented here this afternoon, speaking for millions of Americans who will be benefited, not to rest with the introduction of this legislation. The issue will be in doubt. But if we work together, remember the best interests of our country and the best interests of Americans who look to us for leadership and fairness, and who believe in the free enterprise system of our country, this legislation will pass.

I'd like now to call on Senator Kennedy to make some remarks, after which Senator Howard Cannon will comment.

SENATOR KENNEDY. Thank you very much, Mr. President.

I want to congratulate President Carter and the administration for the preparation of this legislation. Just a little over 8 months ago, Mr. President, as you reminded all of us, we met here in the White House when you signed your airline deregulation bill, and that has made such a difference to consumers and to the battles of inflation, which this country is concerned about, under the leadership of Howard Cannon and the other Members which you've identified.

This legislation, as the President has mentioned, makes sense from an inflation point of view, saving consumers and business men and women $5 billion, makes sense from an energy point of view—more than 20 percent of the trucks that travel on the roads of this country travel empty. It makes sense from a regulatory reform point of view. Just about half of the trucking industry is deregulated and works and functions effectively for consumers as well as for truckers and shippers. And it makes sense for all Americans, for the American consumer.

I look forward to working with the President, my colleagues in the Congress, and particularly Senator Cannon and the members of the Commerce Committee in getting early action on this legislation.

SENATOR CANNON. Mr. President, the Commerce Committee has actively been concerned about Federal regulation for a number of years: airlines, air freight, railroads, communications, maritime, motor carriers. We've not avoided controversy in these particular areas. The trucking hearings are well under way in our committee.

We've already heard from a number of very responsible witnesses expressing concerns. We held hearings in March. We held a hearing on the household moving industry this week. We have two more next week on general trucking and more to follow this summer, both in Washington and other parts of the country.

Next week we'll be hearing from Secretary Adams, Senator Kennedy, Representative Fenwick, Chairman O'Neal,1 and others. As a comprehensive legislative proposal, this bill will be very useful to our committee in the inquiry that is now well under way.

1 A. Daniel O'Neal, Chairman of the Interstate Commerce Commission.

I can assure you and all of the people here that the committee's consideration of this legislation will be thorough and fair, and we look forward to working with you in developing a good comprehensive legislative program.

Thank you.

SENATOR PERCY. Mr. President, it's an honor to be with you.

When I first introduced the 55-mile-per-hour speed limit, the first bill that was put in on that, it was about as popular in southern Illinois and Western States as my bill that charged Senators parking fees for the Senate garage. [Laughter] But today I think we have a momentous step forward, because 3 years ago, we did say that we could save 75 million barrels of oil a year and 12,000 lives. Now, 3 years later, we have saved 40,000 lives and over a quarter of a million barrels of oil by that program.

What we can accomplish here in energy savings alone can be tremendous. With that aspect of this bill of your own that I'm addressing myself to today-and Senator Kennedy and I are introducing today, with Senators Packwood and Magnusoh's cosponsorship, the truck safety act, which will be a complement to this—we're grateful for what you have included in this bill on truck safety.

I think the promise for the future can be just as great. We slaughter more people on the highway just through unsafe trucks today as we did at any time in the Vietnam war: 17,500 fatalities caused by trucks and buses nationally last year; deaths caused by heavy trucks, over 26,000 pounds, are up 53 percent since 1975, over 5,000 deaths. Truckdriving is one of the most hazardous occupations in America today. Truckdriver fatalities: up 41 percent since 1975, over a thousand slaughtered every single year.

If there isn't universal support by truckers and Teamsters for the regulatory aspects of this, there is in truck safety. They both stand united in supporting this legislation. Forty-two percent of 26,000 trucks inspected by Federal spotchecks were declared imminently hazardous and ordered immediately off the road, mainly because of faulty brakes. Heavy trucks caused 11 percent of fatal accidents, yet make up only 1 percent of vehicles. Ninety-seven percent, however, of all deaths caused by truck-car accidents are to occupants of cars. They are the ones that ought to support this legislation vigorously, and I commend your administration and you, Mr. President, for your leadership in this area. Thank you.

SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION ADAMS. Mr. President, Members of the Congress:

This represents many years of effort by many people, and, Mr. President, we are proud to have participated with you in developing it, in a course of almost 2 years of having come into the administration, people from every walk of life, including truckers, shippers, consumers, and those who are most involved in trying to see that we have a reasonable type of truck regulation in the United States and that we save energy, that we do away with these unnecessary backhauls and we modernize a system that has needed work on it for over 20 years.

I'm pleased we've all been able to be a part of this effort. And we are looking forward to going to Capitol Hill and passing legislation that will truly make this an energy-efficient, noninflationary industry.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: The President spoke at 1: 30 p.m. in the State Dining Room at the White House.

Jimmy Carter, Trucking Industry Deregulation Remarks Announcing Proposed Legislation. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/250303

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