The new task force will charged with addressing predatory leasing tactics. - Photo: Canva

The new task force will charged with addressing predatory leasing tactics.

Photo: Canva

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has released the names of the nine trucking industry leaders who will serve on the agency’s new Truck Leasing Task Force.

The task force is charged with addressing predatory leasing tactics by evaluating how fair are lease agreements for trucking equipment in terms of their “potential safety and financial impacts on owner-operators.” 

It's being fielded to put “long-needed intense focus” on the issue of unfair lease and lease-purchasing schemes that are perpetrated by some motor carriers on unsuspecting owner-operators typically new to the trucking business.

In its May 1 announcement, FMCSA said the task force will work on providing best practices to assist truck drivers in assessing the impacts of a leasing agreement prior to entering into such an agreement. The task force will also make recommendations on changes to laws to promote fair leasing agreements.

FMCSA also stated that, “Truck leasing is an important step that many owner-operators … take to get started in the business. Leases that contain terms that are inequitable to drivers may discourage safe drivers from continuing to work in the industry.”

Task Force Members

TLTF members include representatives from motor carriers, owner-operators, labor unions, consumer protection groups, and other businesses, as well as attorneys and educators.  

The nine members who will serve on FMCSA’s Truck Leasing Task Force are: 

  • Tamara Brock, Brock Logistics and Lewis & Lewis Logistics (independent owner-operator).
  • Paul Cullen, The Cullen Law Firm (attorney).
  • Troy Hawkins, TTOH Consulting & Logistics (independent owner-operator).
  • Jim Jefferson, Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.
  • Joshua Krause, OTR Leasing.
  • Kaitlyn Long, International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
  • Steve Rush, Carbon Express.
  • Lesley Tse, Animal Defense Partnership (attorney).
  • Steve Viscelli, University of Pennsylvania (economic sociologist).

“Leasing can have a major impact on people choosing trucking as their career, and protecting drivers is of the utmost importance,” said FMCSA Administrator Robin Hutcheson. She added that the agency is “committed to addressing issues that may impact the recruitment and retention of drivers in the trucking industry.” 

TLTF is a statutory committee mandated by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and an initiative of the Biden Administration’s Trucking Action Plan.

Focus of Task Force Is Wide

Efforts to establish the task force began in 2022. At that time, it was expected that it would delve into a range of practices affecting truck leasing arrangements, such as:

  • Exploring predatory truck leasing arrangements in coordination with the Department of Labor and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
  • Evaluating common truck lease agreements and their terms and identifying and reviewing those that are potentially inequitable in the motor carrier industry, as well as focusing on the transparency of these agreements.
  • Reviewing agreements available to drayage drivers at ports, including those that involve a requirement for trucks to convert to zero emissions.
  • Studying the impact of truck leasing agreements on the net compensation of commercial motor vehicle drivers.
  • Considering whether inequitable terms and agreements affect the maintenance and state of repair of these vehicles.
  • Studying whether truck leasing agreements properly incentivize the safe operation of vehicles, including driver compliance with the hours of service regulations and laws governing speed and safety generally.
  • Examining truck leasing arrangements and financing arrangements among motor carriers, entry-level drivers, driver training providers, and others involved in the industry.
  • Reviewing loans and other arrangements between incoming driver trainees and training schools and/or trucking companies to understand the extent to which these result in outsized and unanticipated debt for drivers.
  • Assessing resources that assist CMV drivers in reviewing the financial impacts of leasing agreements.
  • Considering the opportunity that equitable leasing agreements provide for drivers to start or expand trucking companies.

“At a time when our country needs truck drivers more than ever, we must do everything we can to support the men and women who work in this vital industry,” said Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg. “The Truck Leasing Task Force is taking a hard look at leasing agreements as part of our effort to ensure every truck driver in this country has good working conditions and can make a good living.”

About the author
David Cullen

David Cullen

[Former] Business/Washington Contributing Editor

David Cullen comments on the positive and negative factors impacting trucking – from the latest government regulations and policy initiatives coming out of Washington DC to the array of business and societal pressures that also determine what truck-fleet managers must do to ensure their operations keep on driving ahead.

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