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New York State Truck Safety and Education Symposium and Safety Exhibition

As prepared, FMCSA Administrator Raymond Martinez speaks at New York State Truck Safety and Education Symposium and Safety Exhibition

Trucking Association of New York, Saratoga Springs City Center, Saratoga Springs, NY

Date delivered: April 3rd, 2018

Thank you for your support.  Welcome, everyone. Thank you, Kendra, for your kind introduction.  I also thank you for your longtime support and encouragement. I am pleased to continue our collaboration to help foster a culture of safety in the trucking industry.

And congratulations to you and to the TANY membership for creating an annual event that is recognized by FMCSA as a marquee public-private event here in the Northeast. 

I am honored to kick off the event with New York State DOT Commissioner Paul Karas and New York State DMV Executive Deputy Terri Egan. I look forward to working with you.

To the audience, I thank you for joining me this morning and for your longtime commitment to highway safety. Our FMCSA Team is well represented here today. 

Please take advantage of the opportunity this Symposium creates to continue promoting a safety culture in the trucking industry with our FMCSA and State safety partners. 

Our Assistant Administrator and Chief Safety Officer Jack Van Steenburg is here, as well as Regional Field Administrator Taft Kelly, and New York Division Administrator Brian Temperine and his team members. They will be available to you throughout the event.

Most of you know my background: I served as Chairman and Chief Administrator of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission. I also served as Commissioner of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. And I am proud to now serve as FMCSA Administrator.

I hope that one of my biggest accomplishments as Administrator will be serving a good listener and a good collaborator. 

And my approach at FMCSA will be informed by my prior experiences in New Jersey and in New York: We can promote a culture of safety with a strong partnership between business and government.

Believe it or not, it has been a little over a month since I began serving as Administrator.  And to say that I have jumped in with both feet would be an understatement.

I have been on the road recently, meeting directly with our stakeholders including professional truck drivers at the Mid-America Truck Show in Kentucky and industry safety partners at the Truckload Carriers Association in Florida.

Our message is the same: We are here to listen and engage, not simply speak. We want to support this industry’s indispensable work that is so vital to our economy while, at the same time, maintaining our focus on safety.

We are FMCSA. While I am more or less new to the office, FMCSA’s charge remains the same: providing safety oversight of motor carriers, commercial motor vehicles, and commercial drivers in the United States.  

At FMCSA, safety is our highest priority. For 18 years, the 1,100 men and women of FMCSA have worked hard every day to ensure freight and people move safely. 

We can point to successes from our work: For example, we have seen a marked increase in the use of safety belts by commercial bus and truck drivers, which rose to 86 percent in 2016, up from 65 percent in 2007.

But we know that more work remains to be done: Large trucks and buses are disproportionately involved—though not necessarily at fault—in fatal and serious crashes.  

The estimated cost of large truck and bus crashes was $118 billion in 2015.

In 2016, there were 4,317 fatalities in crashes involving large trucks and buses, a 5.4 percent increase from 2015.

And 72 percent of those killed in large-truck crashes in 2016 were occupants of the other vehicle.

Our work, ladies and gentlemen, clearly continues.

Conducting Our Mission. Everything we do as an Agency, both in the field and at headquarters, ties back to this principle: Trucks are a vital part of the safe, efficient, and reliable transportation system that we all deserve.

Trucking companies play a significant role, too. Regardless of how many drivers they oversee, trucking companies must also prioritize safety to reduce roadway crashes, injuries, and fatalities.

A strong safety culture and a thriving business are not mutually exclusive. In fact, in the commercial motor vehicle industry, the two are—and should be—inextricably linked.

However, we want to work in collaboration with the trucking industry to help meet our safety goals.

Enforcement is part of what we do, but it is not the only thing we do. We strive to listen and be responsive to industry needs, too.

This partnership runs throughout the Department of Transportation. We enjoy outstanding leadership from Secretary Elaine Chao. She has outlined the Department’s top three priorities to continue to strengthen our transportation system.

One: Safety is and will always be Priority One. Two: We will address our country’s crumbling infrastructure. And three: We will plan for the future by managing new technologies.

While I am excited about the Administration’s priorities and our Agency’s direction, I know that questions and concerns can come along with potential—and possibly game-changing—opportunities.

With our remaining time, I will update you on a few of FMCSA’s priority areas.

The ELD rule: What you need to know. First, let us focus our attention on a subject that tends to generate considerable conversation: electronic logging devices or ELDs.  We expect ELDs to reduce incidences of driver fatigue and save lives—without impeding commerce or safety.

The Hours of Service or Commercial Driver’s Licenses rules have not changed in any way. The ELD rule simply requires most drivers who previously used paper logs to now use ELDs to record their Hours of Service.

We have been petitioned to look at the underlying Hours of Service regulations—but it takes a rulemaking to change the rules.  

As many of you know, the ELD compliance date was December 18, 2017. Since that time, compliance with the hours-of-service record-keeping requirements, including the ELD rule, has increased.  

We continue to see strong—and improving—ELD compliance rates nationwide.  According to the most recent available data, compliance has reached a high of 96 percent.

Part of the reason we are seeing these strong compliance rates can be attributed to the training our law enforcement partners have received to prepare them to enforce the new requirement that drivers use this technology.

But we are mindful of the special difficulties the rule may pose. FMCSA recently announced an additional 90-day temporary waiver from the ELD rule for agriculture-related transportation to meet the unique needs of agricultural industries.

In addition, we will publish final guidance on both the 150 air-mile hours-of-service exemption applicable to the transportation of agricultural commodities and the use of CMVs for personal conveyance.

As a reminder, the soft enforcement period, when violations cited would not count against a carrier’s Safety Measurement System scores, ended on April 1, 2018. Now, carriers without ELDs during inspections will be placed out of service.

FMCSA’s ELD outreach to drivers and carriers, however, is ongoing. We will continue to be available to provide assistance and answer questions related to the ELD rule.  Also, we have a robust website dedicated to this topic, so please check it out for more information.

Creating and enforcing other smart safety regulations. Our Agency continues to work on creating and enforcing other smart regulations as well. 

For example, we are working on implementing the final rule which set minimum training standards for new entry-level drivers. The rule is mandated by the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP–21).

We are also working on a proposed rule to reduce training time for some entry level drivers who already have a CDL.

The Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse rule, adopted in 2016, will improve roadway safety by identifying commercial motor vehicle drivers who have committed drug and alcohol violations that make them ineligible to operate those vehicles. The compliance date for that rule is January 6, 2020.

The Clearinghouse will serve as a central repository containing records of violations of FMCSA’s drug and alcohol testing program by commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders.

We also are working on a proposed rule to require State Driver Licensing Agencies to check the Clearinghouse to make sure drivers are qualified to operate a commercial motor vehicle. 

We are working on a Final Rule to amend FMCSA´s medical qualification standards. It would allow drivers with insulin-treated diabetes—who can safely operate commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce—to do so, without seeking an exemption. We expect to publish the Final Rule this fall.

As we move forward with the discussion of autonomous vehicles, FMCSA has been heavily involved with an emphasis on Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMV). Most recently, we published a Request for Comments on Automated Driving Systems from stakeholders, industry and others, including many of you in this room.

With the RFC, FMCSA published the Volpe Report, which reviewed our regulations that may present barriers to the advancement of the technology.

These are examples of the types of work we are pursuing to keep our nation’s roadways safe for all drivers.

Safety is our priority—but it is not a monopoly. We want all travelers to travel with confidence that they will reach their destinations safely—whether those destinations include going to work, taking a trip home, or delivering a load of produce or goods.

FMCSA makes safety first in everything we do.  But safety is not something we can do alone. It is our priority, but it is not a monopoly. We need your help.

We seek to collaborate as much as possible. If we can advance our safety goals through guidance instead of additional rulemaking, for example, then we will take that path.

Trucking companies, too—both small, family operations and large fleets—can foster a culture of safety because they want to, not because FMCSA requires them to do so.

You have great ideas about how to achieve our shared safety priorities, and we want to hear them. Because, ultimately, we share the same goal: To foster a culture of safety in the trucking industry, which will help keep our roads, our drivers, and our nation safer.

Thank you, once again, for inviting me to participate during your general session today.

Updated: Tuesday, April 3, 2018
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