Technology, Not More Regulation, Will Achieve Safer Roads, FMCSA Administrator Claims
Dallas, Texas – Speaking at the opening session of the Omnitracs user conference, Ray Martinez, Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) said the agency prefers the deployment of safety technologies instead of adding more regulations in order to achieve greater levels of safety on U.S. roadways.
“We believe the new technologies can help here,” Martinez told those in attendance. “We want to strike the right balance between technology and safety enforcement.”
Martinez said some state legislatures want more and more regulation to crack down on commercial drivers, but the FMCSA of the Trump Administration had a different philosophy. “I think there’s a different tack. I want to be a promoter of using technology to get to more safety,” Martinez said.
One of those new technologies is automation in commercial motor vehicles (CMV). He indicated the agency is looking closely at how to regulate the testing and deployment of autonomous trucks. Martinez said the agency must “no longer assume that a CMV driver is always a human.”
While some experts, like the former president of Google China are predicting automation will replace 40% of the world’s jobs including many truckers, doctors, waiters, and customer service professionals over the next 15-25 years, Martinez was less emphatic. “We know that full integration of autonomous CMVs will take a while to come.”
Martinez did not specify what “a while to come” meant. He also reiterated the agency’s commitment to enforce the pending December 16, 2019 deadline requiring users of automatic onboard recording devices (AOBRD) to switch to electronic logging devices (ELD).
His message was clear to truckers and fleets. “Please prepare… now if you have not done so.” A recent survey found that a whopping 80% of AOBRD users intend to wait until the last half of 2019 to make the switch.
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However, perhaps most immediate, is the upcoming expected announcement regarding revisions to the hours-of-service (HOS) regulations. Martinez said he was pleased with the recent comment period which yielded more than 5,000 public comments.
He also indicated he believed the listening sessions went well. “We were very pleased with that. It provides guidance for possible HOS rule changes,” he said.
Martinez said he believes the agency must continue to do a better job of listening, which is exactly what they tried to do during the comment period and numerous listening sessions. “Yes, we are a regulatory agency, we enforce rules, but if the way you regulate doesn’t make sense to the ones you regulate, you lose something. We are not just here to talk, but to engage,” he declared.
He did not announce when the new HOS reforms would be unveiled, but said he was encouraged about “moving forward” on the proposed rulemaking.
Transportation Nation Network will continue to bring you the latest developments on this front.