FMCSA Chief Talks COVID-19, ELDs, Trucker Crash Deaths, and Broker Controversy

Washington D.C. – The Acting Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) discussed a host of issues on Friday during a conference call with 170 commercial motor vehicle (CMV) stakeholders.

Jim Mullen, Acting Administrator of FMCSA, weighed in on a wide-ranging list of trucking industry topics during the live conference call Friday morning.

The purpose of the call was to provide stakeholders an update on the Agency’s actions taken so far during the COVID-19 national emergency.




 

While media was not allowed to listen in, the FMCSA did provide Transportation Nation Network (TNN) with some details of the meeting.

TNN has also spoken with multiple sources who were on the call.

Emergency Hours of Service Exemption

According to the FMCSA, Mullen highlighted the “unprecedented actions” taken by the Agency in response to the COVID-19 crisis — including the first-ever hours-of-service (HOS) national emergency declaration.

The historic 50-state HOS exemption for carriers engaged in direct relief assistance is due to expire May 15.

However, Mullen indicated the Agency has yet to decide if the declaration will be extended.

Mullen also pointed to Agency actions undertaken during the COVID-19 pandemic to “ensure drivers can continue to get commercial driver’s licenses (CDL) and permits, and efforts to keep rest stops and parking available.”




 

Trucker Crash Deaths & ELDs

Stakeholders on the call were given an opportunity to ask questions.

Mullen was asked about a brand new National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report, which indicates trucker crash deaths are expected to reach a 31-year high when the final report for 2019 is issued later this year.

According to sources on the call, Mullen indicated the new report was only preliminary and would comment further once the final report is issued in the fall.

James Lamb, president of the Small Business in Transportation Coalition (SBTC), asserted the electronic logging devices (ELD) mandate is correlated to the increase in trucker crash deaths since 2018.

 

According to Lamb, Mullen refuted any such connection between the two exists.

“The Agency does not believe they have evidence that there is a correlation between ELDs and increased large truck occupant fatalities,” Lamb tells TNN.

Broker Controversy

During an interview by phone on Fox News on Friday morning shortly before the FMCSA’s call, President Donald Trump asserted truckers are being “price gouged” by some freight brokers during the COVID-19 recession.

As part of a rather lengthy response to a question about it, Mr. Trump stated, “Oh they are price gouged. We’re going to take care of that.”


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According to multiple sources, Mullen indicated the Agency was unaware of the President’s comments.

Following the call, TNN reached out to the FMCSA for further comment on the growing controversy.




 

An FMCSA spokesperson referred us to the White House for comment and has, thus far, declined to comment specifically on the issue.

However, according to multiple sources who were on the call, Mullen indicated the FMCSA would review federal regulation 49 CFR 371.3 relating to broker transparency.

“Each party to a brokered transaction has the right to review the record of the transaction required to be kept by these rules,” the regulation states.

The interest surrounding this particular regulation has exploded in recent days.

Multiple trucking groups have now called for the FMCSA and the United States Congress to take action to better enforce the provision.

Click HERE to read exactly what these groups are demanding.




 

Meanwhile, the Department of Justice is seeking evidence of potential violations of antitrust laws on the part of brokers before possibly opening an investigation into the matter.

Click HERE to read more on what actions the DOJ is taking.

The issue of alleged broker abuses has captured industry-wide attention since the release of a series of recent social media videos made by New Jersey trucker Rick Santiago.

The videos, which quickly went viral, mobilized many of the truckers who are currently demonstrating in Washington D.C.

Click HERE to read more about Santiago and the response from the brokers mentioned in his videos.

Truckers Rallying in D.C.

Mr. Mullen did not address nor was he asked by stakeholders to address the ongoing trucker rally in our nation’s capital.

Leaders of the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) have been conspicuously silent on the entire event even though President Trump has publicly voiced support for the truckers on two occasions.




 

Both DOT Secretary Elaine Chao and Mullen have yet to publicly comment about the rally or a possible meeting between the truckers and the President.

TNN has asked, and did so again on Friday, if DOT leaders would encourage or discourage the President from sitting down with rally organizers, but the Agency has declined to directly answer that question.

Photo courtesy of Charles Claburn/Facebook

 


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Comment (12)

  1. I have been 2 strikes in the 70s and now the brokers are doing this to the trucker, my husband and I pulled for a small company close to home , good money until a big trucking company came in and took the loads, then they brokered them out for 300 to 400 less than what be hauled for, so if you big time brokers don’t have the trucks to haul your cheap shit, think of the people that keep America going, just one of the hundreds that went under, just in case you haul a load for TMC your loosing about 300 or more on loads, cut throats, as far as eld goes , I can see it for some so the new breed of drivers, but so many that for years as a driver, they know what there doing and how to do it, you people that set in office make the bullshit rules need to get your happy ass in a truck for a week, and see what the drivers deal with day in an out, I would challenge any of you just one week , and see what happens,,

    1. Linda,you are 100% on track! You will never succeed in getting one of those sit on my ass,let’s make laws/rules about shit we have no clue about government ,easy street,make laws for others that doesn’t apply to them!Sorry,am pissed and starting to ramble! They ask much from us,think they would do something we ask,as in…Just 1 week in the truck!!!

  2. “The Agency does not believe they have evidence that there is a correlation between ELDs and increased large truck occupant fatalities,” Lamb tells TNN.

    Are you kidding me? When is this industry going to appoint some with real world experience? ELDs are not a safety tool, nor will they EVER help with safety. It is only a compliance tool. Easier for an officer to see a violation then to look/figure if there is one. The inflexibility/rigidness of not being able to stop the clock is the problem. Causation of accidents are fatigue, which for general purposes are caused by not being rested. Not being rested – which is caused by not being able to sleep when YOU are tired. So the HOS regulations needs to roll back to pre-2003 rule changes (ie off-duty/sleeper stops the clock = flexibility/ productivity). The 34hr reset is the only rule in my 26yr driving career and 12yr safety department career worth keeping.
    I’d imagine that all the #thankatrucker, #truckerskeepamericamoving, etc are going to be forgotten once the lawmakers can get their toilet paper! Back to beating down on the very driver that saved the day. Working for months without the handcuffs of HOS safely should prove my point. But without these strict rules in order to create revenue, what are our opponents to do? No rules to good to be suspended when people needed things, but when that same driver needs help in return? Well, we all know how this story is going to end – don’t we?

  3. Tom Oswald is absolutely correct in his comment!! ELDS forced drivers to drive tired. I’ve been on the road for 20 years…never had a accident. Since the ELD mandate…I’ve been driving more tired than ever. Once the clock starts…you can’t stop it. Is it fair that government will suspend the HOS to help the country…but when Joe Highwayman needs an hour here or there to get to a customer before they close…or worse need an extra 2 hours to get home!!! Big brother says

  4. The industry is broken! PERIOD!! Trucking has become the most over regulated, deregulated industry in the country!
    Unscrupulous companies and Brokers cut so much revenue from the top, by the time it reaches the truck there’s little left.
    Fuel sur charges are supposed to go to the truck, sometimes they do, most times they don’t. Why? Because the brokers and the Carriers know that they can get away with paying some or none, because no one is watching them.
    If they truly want to make the Hwys safer, make ELD’s voluntary again, the mega Carriers Carriers lobbied for ELD to “Even the playing field ” because of its restrictive nature, they had problems competing, Because it’s COUNTER PRODUCTIVE!
    Stop the mega Carriers private “Puppy Mill” driving Schools, which are producing the most poorly trained drivers I’ve ever seen in 40 yrs. as a professional driver, a large majority of them can’t even back up 10 ft without jack knifing the truck, which raises another question! How are they passing the SKILLS TEST ????
    Reregulate the industry !!! That’s right I said it!! In today’s real world the RATES DO NOT SUPPORT THE COST OF OPERATING!! Someone has their hand in EVERY DRIVERS pocket everyday , DEMANDING we pay more to operate, while at the same time totally indifferent to the cost of operation/rate disparity.
    Over Regulation and driver HARRASSMENT has led to the so called driver shortage, we need common sense laws, rules, regulations enacted by people with long term, real world experience. Not by mega Carriers that only have their own self interest in mind.

  5. Mullen came from Werner the 2nd most dangerous co on our roads and now is in charge of safety? God help us all. He cannot see the increase in fatalities speeding tickets and accidents do to rookies racing the clock up against an eld. 2 most dangerous things in trucking are the 14 hr rule and elogs. Keep on killing folks ATA you will figure it out someday

  6. Jim Mullen please stop your horse crap. Back in September at the listening session I explain to you and your panel about the troubles in trucking. Obvious you was not listening. ELDs have encourage a wide range of problems, unsafe working environment, high stress which leads to chronic illness, and drivers driving reckless. What would it take for you capitalist lazy white color workers to just stop your lies and be about business in a fair way, not bias to keeping a job or getting browny points. The 25 years of being in trucking it has continue to go down for the driver and everybody else is capitalizing. All brokers need to be investigated. They legally lying and stealing. When trucking companies can’t put tires or do routine care of their equipment then FMSCA (big bad wolf), like I stated in last September at the listen session, you then shutting the companies down. Let’s work together not divide. Life is about compromise. FMSCA, brokers and lawmakers are not compromising to help the trucking industry at all.

  7. A fellow Trucker OO recently got burned by a broker. Took a load from IL to TX for 2 stop. Post 2 months no payment zero zilch. As far as the increased trucking accidents i can honestly say this has to be ELD related.

  8. Thank you Santiago for your efforts, and all the others who showed up. We do need set freight rates! Dry van,$2 minimum per mile, all miles figured in. And it goes up from this base. We will go broke otherwise, using brokers.
    Thanks be to Ooida for sharing and getting the information in front of those who can make better decisions for the OWNER OPERATOR. Santiago call me 540 529 7336 or email [email protected] “Delivering Peace of Mind, One Customer at a Time ” PRAYING

  9. Nov. 2019 my husband was hit by a drunk drive at 8am in the morning, totaled his trailer ,when I called both Insurance companies to let them know, what had happened, our Insurance setup and took over even though it was my husband’s fault, the other Insurance, witch was farmers, told me and kept tell me limited amount, that all they would say, He was out a trailer for over a month, there Insurance never looked a his trailer never , just said limited a mount, 24 thousand is all they would say, how much Insurance does truck insurance cost.!!!! A drunk driver broke us, at the end of April got a letter from farmers Insurance, wanting the information from reck, witch I had sent to them many times, they said , they will review it , well that’s to be seen. The coast of down time , the time waiting and looking for a trailer, the money out of pocket then phone calls. If it was turned around, and my husband was at fault !!!, just because we have to paid some damn much more for the stupid people that that do shit like that drunk did, well all you guys know what you put up with every day, people sitting in there office making up the bull shit laws on trucker are a f…king joke , I’m sorry for being so blunt , elogs , Insurance, speed limits for trucks can go on for ever, you guys know what I’m talking about, thank all of you guy , gals still out there.

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