Jim Mullen, former FMCSA leader, takes job at TuSimple

October 1, 2020

Mark Schremmer


Former FMCSA acting Administrator Jim Mullen has accepted a job at TuSimple, the autonomous driving technology company has announced.

Mullen, who left the FMCSA at the end of August, will serve as the company’s chief legal and risk officer.

“We’re delighted to welcome former FMCSA acting Administrator Jim Mullen to the team,” TuSimple wrote on its LinkedIn page on Wednesday, Sept. 30. “Jim’s experience leading the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will prove to be invaluable as we work to introduce L4 (level 4) autonomous trucks to the market safely and reliably by 2024.”

Before joining the FMCSA as chief counsel in June 2018, Mullen worked more than a decade for Omaha, Neb.-based Werner Enterprises as executive vice president and chief counsel. In October 2019, Mullen became FMCSA’s deputy administrator and interim leader after Ray Martinez stepped down as administrator.

During his 10 months of leadership, Mullen helped move Martinez’s push toward hours-of-service reform across the goal line. FMCSA issued a final rule in May and the new hours of service went into effect on Sept. 29.

“While leading the FMCSA in Washington, D.C., he was responsible for regulating more than 530,000 trucking companies, 12,000 bus and motor coach operators and approximately 4 million interstate commercial driver’s license holders,” TuSimple wrote. “Notable accomplishments during his FMCSA tenure include hours-of-service reform, autonomous commercial vehicle rulemaking, contributions to the DOT’s AV 3.0 and 4.0 and leading the agency during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Autonomous trucks

The San Diego-based company has been at the forefront of autonomous trucking operations and was featured heavily on a “60 Minutes” segment about autonomous trucking that was broadcast in March. In the segment, CBS News’ Jon Wertheim rode in the back of the truck with representatives from the company as the autonomous truck attempted a 65-mile loop through weekday traffic in Tucson, Ariz. There was a trucker in the driver’s seat in case of emergency.

OOIDA contends that the technology and infrastructure are not anywhere close to where they would need to be for truly “driverless” trucks to take the road.

“We don’t have a commitment from our leaders in Washington to do things as simple as filling potholes,” OOIDA President Todd Spencer said in March. “So when you talk about doing something as immense as this, you’ve really got to roll your eyes.” 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.