The Motor Carrier Act of 1980, also known as the Motor Carrier Regulatory Reform and Modernization Act, is a federal law that was passed to deregulate the trucking industry.
Simply put, the Motor Carrier Act of 1980 helped reduce the level of ICC regulation within the trucking industry. It also did the following:
- Modified the distinction between contract and common carriers with the idea of increasing competition.
- Individual motor careers garnered greater freedom in regards to setting rates.
As a result of these changes, among many others, the trucking industry boomed during the 1980’s. In fact, this decade saw the number of trucking companies in the United States double. For example, by the time 1990 rolled around, the number of licensed carriers surpassed 40,000, up from approximately 20,000 only 10 years earlier.
Although the Motor Carrier Act of 1980 finally resulted in big changes throughout the trucking industry, this was a long time in the making.
For instance, since the passage of the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887, the government had stepped in to regulate many types of transportation, including both the railroad and airline industries. So, it was only natural that the trucking industry was on deck.
The Big Day
In 1976, public interest in deregulation led to the passing of a variety of federal laws, such as the Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Act.
From there, four years later, the deregulation of the trucking industry finally moved to the forefront. Soon enough, President Jimmy Carter signed the Motor Carrier Act of 1980 into law on July 1, 1980.
While President Carter was the person who signed the act into law, a lot of work went into making this happen. For example, the Carter Administration worked closely with a variety of other political leaders, including Ted Kennedy, to push the law forward.
Upon signing the bill, President Carter took great pride in knowing that it would finally lead to the long overdue deregulation of the trucking industry. He noted the following:
“This is historic legislation. It will remove 45 years of excessive and inflationary Government restrictions and red tape. It will have a powerful anti-inflationary effect, reducing consumer costs by as much as $8 billion each year. And by ending wasteful practices, it will conserve annually hundreds of millions of gallons of precious fuel. All the citizens of our Nation will benefit from this legislation. Consumers will benefit, because almost every product we purchase has been shipped by truck, and outmoded regulations have inflated the prices that each one of us must pay. The shippers who use trucking will benefit as new service and price options appear. Labor will benefit from increased job opportunities. And the trucking industry itself will benefit from greater flexibility and new opportunities for innovation.”
A Big Change to the Trucking Industry
In today’s day and age, it’s hard to imagine a time when the trucking industry was insulated from competition. However, that’s exactly how the industry was managed up until 1980.
Thanks to the passing of the Motor Carrier Act of 1980, the trucking industry finally moved to a free enterprise system, which resulted in booming growth that doubled the number of trucking companies over a period of 10 years. In addition to prompting new companies to join the industry, it also allowed existing organizations to expand their offerings.
If you weren’t involved in the trucking industry before 1980 it’s hard to imagine just how different things were at that time. Fortunately, the Motor Carrier Act of 1980 changed the industry for the better, even though it was long past due.
If you’re wondering how we can help your trucking company evolve even further, don’t hesitate to contact us today!