Move away from regulations that don’t improve safety, OOIDA’s Spencer says

August-September 2020

Mark Schremmer

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The FMCSA needs to focus its efforts on initiatives that have been proven to improve highway safety and move away from regulations with no proven safety benefits, OOIDA President Todd Spencer told committee members at the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee meeting on July 14.

“There needs to be an effort to evaluate performance of initiatives to see if there is a positive impact, a negative impact, or no impact at all,” Spencer said. “If there isn’t a positive impact on safety, then we should move on.”

MCSAC is a committee of industry stakeholders who advise the FMCSA on safety issues. The committee held virtual meetings on July 13-14.

Spencer, who serves on the committee, spent a lot of time talking about getting the agency to place its efforts on removing the bad actors instead of continuing to create more and more regulations on experienced trucker drivers with impeccable safety records.

“We need a system that rewards professionalism,” Spencer said. “Enforcing regulations on safe drivers is a stupid way to spend tax dollars. If you’re not crashing, you’re not the problem. Focus on where the problems are.”

One way to improve safety, Spencer suggested, would be to begin compensating truck drivers for every hour they work instead of the typical pay-by-the-mile model. Using data that shows experienced drivers are typically safer drivers, Spencer said the new pay model would make it more likely to keep drivers in the industry.

At least one safety advocate on the committee agreed.

“Paying by the mile puts a lot of pressure on drivers,” said Stephen Owings, founder and president of Road Safe America. “They shouldn’t have that as an obstacle to overcome. We firmly believe that if truck drivers were paid for every hour they work that there would be less turnover. We absolutely believe that it would be a game-changer in the industry.” LL

Mark Schremmer

Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.