FMCSA Administrator Ray Martinez speaks with OOIDA President Todd Spencer during the OOIDA Board of Directors fall meetings on Friday, Nov. 16. (Photo by Nate Kelly)
There is no better way to influence change than a face-to-face meeting with a decision maker.
During the OOIDA Board of Directors fall meetings on Friday, Nov. 16, more than two dozen truck drivers from across the nation directly conveyed their concerns regarding the industry to FMCSA Administrator Ray Martinez.
Martinez and Joe DeLorenzo, FMCSA’s director of enforcement and compliance, traveled to OOIDA’s headquarters in Grain Valley, Mo., to hear the perspectives of real-life truckers – who combined to have more than 800 years of trucking experience – and to learn about burdensome regulations that could be potentially eliminated.
“We want to be fully engaged,” Martinez told the OOIDA board members. “When I first came on (as administrator), I was told there was a disconnect between the regulated community and the agency. I want to make sure collaboration is included in everything we do.
“The nation’s small trucking companies represent the heart of this county, and we understand that.”
The agency leaders and OOIDA board members spent more than three hours discussing topics ranging from the electronic logging mandate and hours of service to driver training and autonomous vehicles.
In August, FMCSA issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking regarding possible changes to the hours-of-service rules. Since then, the agency has hosted listening sessions in Dallas; Reno, Nev.; Joplin, Mo.; Orlando, Fla.; and Washington, D.C.
Martinez acknowledged that the ELD mandate may have shed some light on problems with the hours-of-service regulations and added that the agency is committed to moving forward on a rule that would provide some flexibility to commercial drivers.
Without providing a firm timetable or specific details, Martinez said the agency hopes to move as fast as possible on hours-of-service reform.
“We’re going to move expeditiously,” he said. “I can’t comment any more other than that, but stay tuned.”
Martinez also said the agency is committed to eliminating burdensome and costly regulations.
“I know the best way to move the needle forward on safety isn’t by adding more regulations,” Martinez said.
He added that the agency started a Regulatory Reform Task Force that meets once a week.
“The invitation to OOIDA and the industry is to tell us,” Martinez said. “Tell us which regulations need reformed.
“I get credit for the regulations we can eliminate. Trust me, President Trump wants that.”
OOIDA board members told FMCSA’s leaders to remove the regulations that play no role in safety and focus on the ones that do like driver training.
“I’d like to see FMCSA begin to focus on the ‘S’ in your name again,” OOIDA Board Member Tilden Curl said. “If you want to know what’s safe, start with the people in this room and our members.”
Curl added that big fleets, which have a turnover rate of 100 percent or more, are a detriment to safety.
“Turnover rates should be reflected in your CSA (Compliance, Safety, Accountability) score,” Curl said.
OOIDA President Todd Spencer spoke up about concerns with autonomous vehicles and questionable technology.
“We’re going to totally embrace technology that reduces crashes,” Spencer said. “But where we’re at, we don’t know what’s true and what’s not. We’ve heard lots of claims.
“We don’t want drivers to become over-reliant on the technology and not be ready for when something happens.”
Martinez said the agency will continue to look to OOIDA to provide feedback on what it can do to benefit truck drivers while maintaining safety.
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