It’s time for new leadership at the top of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association wrote in a letter to Anthony Foxx, secretary of the Department of Transportation.
The president and chief executive officer of OOIDA, Jim Johnston, wrote in the June 5 letter that FMCSA leadership doesn’t have “respect” for its membership. Johnston and his membership is disappointed in Administration Anne Ferro’s leadership and added that Foxx should “take immediate action to remedy the situation,” he wrote.
“OOIDA’s Board of Directors, made up predominantly of men and women who spend their days on the highway driving a truck, has concluded that the FMCSA can no longer perform its regulatory and enforcement duties impartially, and we have thus lost confidence in Administrator Ferro’s ability to conduct her responsibilities (which go far beyond simply regulating and enforcing truck safety rules and regulations) effectively,” he wrote.
Johnston said the group hasn’t seen eye-to-eye with agency rules in the past, but that OOIDA members realize the agency has to balance the needs of many interests. Recently, though, that stance changed. On June 3, Ferro, in his view, wrote on her blog that the agency sees drivers “not as professionals, but as accidents waiting to happen.” To prevent these accidents, additional regulations need to be in place.
Ferro wrote the blog post in rebuttal to news that Sen. Susan Collins, R-Me., would be introducing an amendment to the FY 2015 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill that would delay some aspects of the FMCSA’s hours-of-service regulation. Collins is seeking to suspend the rule that drivers can’t operate trucks between the hours of 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. for two consecutive nights. She also wants to delay the requirement that limits the 34-hour restart to just once a week.
The amendment passed through committee Thursday by a vote of 29-1.
The OOIDA and other trucking organizations have favorably reacted to the amendment, saying it will help truckers. In his letter, Johnston wrote that Ferro argued against Collins’ amendment, before it had even been introduced, by using “snippets of isolated incidents” that paint a picture of danger in an industry without the new hours-of-service regulations.
Johnston wrote that Ferro’s comments “are totally inappropriate and should not be tolerated.” When looking back on some of Ferro’s testimony and other statements, Johnston concluded that she has been antagonistic toward the industry.
In addition to the hours-of-service fight, the OOIDA also takes offense to the FMCSA’s rulemaking to increase insurance minimums on all truck drivers. Raising the insurance minimum from the current threshold of $750,000 will force independent truckers off the roads, the group has argued.
“Administrator Ferro’s failure to perform her duties impartially, her failure to lead her agency to fulfill Congressional mandates, and her failure to responsibly prioritize the agency’s tasks has left the OOIDA Board of Directors no choice but to unanimously vote in favor of a call for Administrator Ferro’s resignation,” he wrote, “and for you to begin an immediate search for a new FMCSA Administrator who will approach professional truck drivers with the respect and fair treatment that their important work and commitment to safety demand.”