The FMCSA Chief wants better safety records in trucking and stated that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is committed to working side by side with trucking stakeholders to improve highway safety. He made his case on October 18th to the American Trucking Associations’ Management Conference & Exhibition. But what does it actually mean?
FMCSA Chief Counsel T.F. Scott Darling III stated that “there are 1,100 FMCSA employees making a difference “to improve safety“, but we need partnerships “with trucking interests” to accomplish more. That’s why next year, we will continue to push for “partnerships” to help advance rulemakings.” But is FMCSA really willing to do that? We’ve seen these so-called partnerships in the past. Final results, truck drivers are on the losing end.
Scott Darling has only headed FMCSA for a little over a year. Darling replaced former FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro. He was nominated to fill the open vacancy by President Obama back in August 2014. The trucking industry and FMCSA has been on a rocky road in recent years, so it will be crucial for Darling and company to find support within the trucking industry. Most of remember the 34 hour rule suspension, one that FMCSA opposed and about every other rule in between, so their support in trucking could be at “more then usual lows.
Darling remarked that the agency “depends on truck drivers and their companies to deliver goods and we need them to operate safely.” He said that FMCSA and trucking “must do all we can to take unsafe drivers and carriers off the road.” ATA and the trucking industry have been in constant support of driver safety. There’s a long list of FMCSA’s rulemaking and regulations. We want to see safety measures in place, without question. But not at the expense of truck drivers and the trucking industry.
As an example of the benefit of partnering, Darling said the industry “stepped up” when FMCSA “asked for help to reach drivers for data for our study of the effects of the hours-of-service restart provisions.”
Darling did comment that the study gave FMCSA some great data said from more than 220 drivers as well as from trucking companies. “All the data points are being examined and we plan to submit our report to the DOT Office of the Inspector General in the coming months.”
Darling also said that, thanks to stakeholders “participating fully in the process,” the agency is completing a rulemaking on entry-level driver training despite “a compressed timeline” and said that is scheduled to be published by the end of the year. The FMCSA chief also reported that a new online unified-registration system for motor carriers is currently being developed that will save fleets both time and money. While some changes that are being made to improve safety in the trucking industry
As for the highly anticipated final rule that will mandate the use of electronic logging devices, Darling said it is “to be published soon.” He said that once it’s in effect, it “will save an estimated 20 lives and prevent more than 400 injuries a year and will improve hours-of-service compliance.”
Darling added that the White House’s Office of Management and Budget is reviewing the proposed Safety Fitness Determination rule and that FMSCA will be seeking public comment
He also advised that the agency’s “militray skills training waiver” program that “removes the skills portion of CDL training” for qualifying military veterans has just been expanded to all 50 states.