OOIDA leaders talk trucking with FMCSA acting administrator
November 25, 2019
OOIDA leadership traveled to Washington, D.C., last week to discuss trucking issues with FMCSA acting Administrator Jim Mullen. It was OOIDA’s first formal meeting with Mullen since he took over the agency’s leadership role after Ray Martinez stepped down as administrator on Oct. 28.
OOIDA President Todd Spencer and Executive Vice President Lewie Pugh sat down with Mullen on Nov. 20 to talk about such issues as hours-of-service reform and the large truck crash causation study.
Mullen’s predecessor helped move the agency toward reforming the hours-of-service regulations and providing more flexibility to professional truck drivers. FMCSA issued a notice of proposed rulemaking in August with five main changes to hours of service. The public comment period on the notice ended on Oct. 21, and a final rule could come sometime in 2020.
“It was a good visit,” Pugh said. “He said he plans to stay the course of Martinez. We expect the hours-of-service plan to go through.”
OOIDA started the push for hours-of-service reform when it petitioned the agency in February 2018.
Pugh said the Association will continue to work within the system to spur positive change for truck drivers.
“We don’t always agree with the regulations, but we know we have to work within the system for change,” Pugh said. “You can’t change things by just folding your arms, stomping the ground and saying, ‘No.’ We have to provide solid reasons and data for why change is needed.”
Martinez announced on Oct. 10 that he would be leaving his post to oversee a Department of Transportation construction project at the Volpe Center in Massachusetts.
At the same time Martinez’s departure was announced, Mullen was moved from FMCSA’s chief counsel to deputy administrator. In the new role, Mullen will service as the agency’s acting administrator until a permanent replacement is announced.
Pugh said that OOIDA and Mullen have continued to have correspondence since the meeting and that the OOIDA Foundation provided data regarding hours of service to the agency.
In addition to the meeting with Mullen, OOIDA leadership met with Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., during their stop in Washington, D.C.
OOIDA used the time with the senator to discuss bills the Association believes would be harmful to truck drivers and the industry, including the DRIVE-Safe Act and such mandates as speed limiters, underrides, automatic emergency braking, and increasing the federal minimum insurance to $5 million.