There are lessons to be learned from crisis, FMCSA leader says

April 23, 2020

Mark Schremmer

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In a recent interview with Road Dog Trucking Radio’s Mark Willis, FMCSA acting Administrator Jim Mullen hinted that lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic could lead to changes in how the trucking industry is regulated.

“Sometimes at crisis times, you can learn a lot of lessons,” Mullen told Willis during the SiriusXM channel’s “Realities of the Road” virtual town hall earlier this week. “We’re working on some hours-of-service modifications already … There are absolutely lessons to be learned from this crisis, this time period.”

For years, OOIDA has pushed for increased flexibility within the hours-of-service regulations. The Association’s stance is that providing truck drivers more ability to decide when or when not to drive will improve highway safety.

OOIDA submitted a petition to FMCSA in February 2018 asking the agency to reform the hours of service. A little more than two years later, truckers are waiting to see FMCSA’s final rule on hours-of-service. FMCSA has said the rule, which was sent to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review in March, will give truck drivers more control and flexibility. OMB lists the final rule as “pending review” and likely will not be released until June or later.

During the pandemic, hours-of-service rules have been relaxed to allow essential goods to be hauled in a timely fashion.

Possible changes

The crisis has also led to changes regarding commercial learner’s permits. Earlier this month, FMCSA granted a waiver to permit third-party test examiners.

“For instance on the (departments of motor vehicles) being closed and not being able to issue commercial learner’s permits unless they do online knowledge tests or maybe out-of-state knowledge tests where other states who remain open,” Mullen told Willis. “Those are things that the both the feds and state officials are going to have to look at very closely, not only just if another crisis arises. But just in general, are those just better practices and do they make more sense for government and the industry?”

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.