FMCSA leadership hears drivers’ perspective from OOIDA Board

November 16, 2022

Mark Schremmer

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Attending the OOIDA Board of Directors meeting via Zoom on Wednesday, Nov. 16, FMCSA Administrator Robin Hutcheson was encouraged to rely on the organization to relay the realities of the trucking industry.

Each of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association’s board members boast at least 10 years of experience as a trucker – many have more than 30 years invested in the industry.

“The members of our Board of Directors have been doing this a long time. They have experience in every aspect of trucking that there is,” OOIDA President Todd Spencer said. “Certainly, we’d like to offer ourselves a resource for expertise on some of the issues that often seem to be muddled by others.”

OOIDA’s Board used the two hours with Hutcheson, as well as FMCSA executive director and chief safety officer Jack Van Steenburg, to provide its concerns on such issues as electronic logging devices, broker transparency, speed limiters, electronic IDs and truck parking.

“The experience in this room is astounding, and what we gain hearing from you is invaluable,” Hutcheson said.

The administrator also used the meeting to offer another show of appreciation for the sacrifices truck drivers made throughout the pandemic.

“Thank you for keeping America safe … There is no limit on how many times we can thank you for your work getting us through the pandemic,” she said. “Those magical boxes that show up on people’s doorsteps. People suddenly started to pay attention to how they get there.”

FMCSA fielded questions from the board members, but the agency is limited by law in how much it can say regarding active rulemakings. That’s the case with many of trucking’s top issues, including ELDs, speed limiters and broker transparency.

ELDs

In September, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requested feedback from truckers about how it can improve the ELD mandate. The agency accepted comments through Nov. 15.

FMCSA’s advance notice of proposed rulemaking considers changes to the ELD mandate in five areas.

  • Applicability to pre-2000 engines.
  • Addressing ELD malfunctions.
  • The process for removing an ELD from FMCSA’s list of certified devices.
  • Technical specifications.
  • ELD certification.

One area of concern for truck drivers is the possibility of the agency removing the ELD exemption for trucks with pre-2000 engines.

OOIDA Board Member Doug Smith said he would like to see data that shows the need to require ELDs on older trucks.

“We would like to see the data showing that these trucks make up a large number of the crashes,” Smith said. “I would maintain that these are not the droids you’re looking for. The trucks that are maintained such that they can cross the country at that age are not driven by the rookies who are causing the wrecks. This is a solution to something where there is no problem unless you can show us the data for it.”

Van Steenburg said that the ELD notice is not a formal proposal and the agency is just looking for feedback at this point. Now that the comment period is over, the agency will review the more than 1,100 comments and decide whether to follow with a proposed rule.

Speed limiters

In May, FMCSA issued a supplemental advance notice of proposed rulemaking to get feedback on a potential mandate. Under the initial proposal, commercial motor vehicles with a gross vehicle weight of 26,001 pounds or more and that are equipped with an electronic engine control unit capable of being governed would be subject to the mandate.

Truckers responded in a big way. More than 15,000 comments were submitted to the docket. The majority were opposed.

Johanne Couture, an OOIDA board member from Canada, asked the agency to review the safety data regarding a speed limiter mandate in Ontario.

“I implore you to look at the data of crashes in Ontario and Quebec, where we’ve had a speed limiter rule since 2009,” she said. “Our crash history is terrible. It’s unsafe – the elephant races and the tailgating.”

According to a U.S. DOT report, FMCSA targeted June 2023 for the release of its notice of proposed rulemaking. However, Hutcheson told the board members that the number of comments received makes it likely for the next notice to be delayed. Like the ELD notice, speed limiters are only at the advance notice stage. The next notice will be a formal proposal – likely with a top speed included.

Broker transparency

In 2020, OOIDA petitioned FMCSA to begin the rulemaking process for more transparency in transactions with brokers.

The petition asks the agency:

  • To require brokers to automatically provide an electronic copy of each transaction record within 48 hours after the contractual service has been completed.
  • To explicitly prohibit brokers from including any provision that requires a carrier to waive their rights to access the transaction records.

CFR 371.3 already requires that brokers keep records of each transaction with a carrier and that each party to the transaction has a right to view these records.

Hutcheson declined to provide much detail as the agency is still working on its response. However, she told Land Line in October that the agency plans to address the petition soon.

“We have been considering the issues raised by the petition for rulemaking, and based on that work we are targeting early 2023 to issue a decision,” she said. LL

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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.