With four months on the job under his belt, the administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration views the current state of the industry as “transitional.”
Administrator Ray Martinez took over the reins of FMCSA on March 1, becoming the sixth administrator of the agency since it was created in 2000. That was shortly after the electronic logging mandate became official and only a month before hard enforcement began.
Given that the electronic logging mandate was one of the biggest regulatory changes to hit the industry in nearly a decade, tension at the time that Martinez took office was high.
“The implementation of ELDs was a unique time to come in. I understand that it was a big concern to a lot of segments in the industry. So it was a challenge and still is a challenge,” Martinez told Land Line Now.
“Obviously we’re talking about the ELD phase-in period. (But) in truth, I believe the hours-of-service issue is an evergreen issue in this industry it seems. I’m sure every one of my predecessors has had to deal with that in some way, shape or form.”
Tackling that sort of dynamic in the industry, Martinez said he drew from his experience before he took over the helm of FMCSA.
Martinez previously served in a variety of government- and transportation-related roles, including as the chairman and chief administrator of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission, member of the New Jersey State Planning Commission and commissioner for the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles.
One of the lessons learned in his earlier transportation experience that he draws from now, he says, is to listen.
“When I go to speak with folks in the industry, who may have frustrations, whether it’s ELDs or other issues related to FMCSA, they are legitimate concerns. It’s best to listen and learn and try to figure out where you can find some common ground or a way to alleviate some of the pressure they’re feeling,” he told Land Line Now.
In terms of the current state of the industry, Martinez said he’s taking a “long view” approach.
“You have to take the long view here on some of these things because circumstances change. ... We’re in one of those transitional moments that I think is a positive,” he said.
“The truth is, now that we have gone through the ELD implementation. And, I still look at it as a transitional phase, because I understand that some folks are getting used to ELDs if they haven’t used them before ... but also are the right providers out there. Are there good providers and bad providers? That’s a challenge.
“It may give us an opportunity, with the implementation of ELDs, to go back to that evergreen issue of hours of service and say ‘OK, now can we talk about that again?’ We’re not shying away from that. I think that is an issue that now is a transitional moment where we can say, ‘We can revisit this issue and use ELDs as a starting point for talking about them.’”
In the interview with Land Line Now, Martinez also hints at possible changes to the hours-of-service regulations, talks about the so-called driver shortage and autonomous trucks in the interview that airs on Land Line Now on Sirius XM Channel 146 at 6 p.m. Central Daylight Time on Tuesday, Aug. 7.
Listeners who miss the original broadcast or who do not have Sirius XM can catch the full replay and hear all that Martinez has to say at the link below or on a wide variety of podcast applications starting at 5 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, Aug. 8.
The Ray Martinez interview starts at 10:10.
Copyright © OOIDA