A few weeks ago at the 2018 Mid-America Trucking Show, Ray Martinez, the new administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, held his first official “grass roots outreach” event. Martinez had hopes that the event would not be an angry one– but it was; the 90 minute “listening event” was characterized by tension and confrontation. Drivers from across the country accused Martinez, and by extension, the FMCSA, of ignoring the fate of independent owners and small fleet truck drivers under the new ELD rules. The group mainly consisted of individual owner-operators and drivers for small companies, and their concerns ranged from the highly debated ELD mandate, to lack of parking at truck stops. Most of them agreed that the FMCSA has overstepped their authority in regard to work hours and when they should take rest and meal breaks.
The crowd was also displeased with the way that Martinez was answering their questions, saying that he was disconnected from the people he was supposed to be serving, and was answering “like a politician.” Martinez listen to their criticism quietly, and without interruption. He told him that he was used to not being the most-liked person in the room, and told the crowd that he would address the complaints that “made the most sense” and would not negatively impact highway safety, but he made no promises. He pointed out that he does not have the ability to change the laws around the ELD mandate, but that there is some room for negotiation in regard to the rules surrounding mandatory hours. He said that the only way to fix problems and concerns within the industry is to listen and learn. He also stated that he and the FMCSA realize that long wait times at docks are inefficient, and that ELD are supposed to help highlight those inequities. At the end of the session, Martinez admitted that the contention was nothing new, and that these were the types of things that the FMCSA wanted to hear.
For more reporting on the 2018 Mid-America Trucking Show, visit www.ttnews.com
Written By: Shayla Powers