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Todd Dills

Driver dispatches to DOT: New priorities for a new secretary

| July 02, 2013
Anthony Foxx

Anthony Foxx

With Anthony Foxx expected to come in officially this week as head of the Department of Transportation, we asked readers on our Facebook page to tell him what exactly he should make a priority relative to trucking. We know where the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has been over the past several years under DOT’s last leader, Ray Lahood: Since 2009, when Lahood took office, we’ve had the handheld cell ban, an hours rewrite that went into effect yesterday, a mandate for electronic logs that’s still under way, among other new or fulfilled prior programs long in process. We’ve had the byzantine CSA system and the myriad little changes DOT, through FMCSA, has implemented since the program’s launch two and a half years ago, including new compliance-review processes that are enabling federal enforcement officials to respond to carriers with what they see as critical safety problems quite quickly — likewise making it harder for carriers put out of service to resurface under new authorities.

Most recently, FMCSA detailed its plans for the driver-focused portion of the CSA regime very publicly, in a report to Congress you can download here. Over the nine years summarized, the agency wants to develop a Driver Safety Fitness Determination similar to what they’re doing for carriers via CSA, in essence.

“When are they going to come up with a program to do away with all these new programs?” quipped Steven Mitchell in comments on our Facebook page.

Good question.

Split sleeper / hours flexibility pollRegardless of the potential safety-positive nature of some of these efforts (hard to argue against preventing bad actors popping up as so-called “chameleon carriers” under new authority, for one), a deluge of business-intrusive change as a fact of the trucking life these last several years is fairly self-evident. Thus, asked what Foxx should focus on, it’s no surprise some readers called for rollbacks.

“Strike down Lahood’s parting shot on the HOS,” wrote Douglas Holmes Connolly, Frank Wright adding that hours regs that “make sense, with our input,” would be most advantageous, then: leave well enough alone, “forever.”

A version of Jeff Clark’s “Gold Card Drivers” idea, modestly proposed here on the blog back in 2010 during the current hours rewrite’s comment period, surfaced, too — the notion of granting broad hours flexibility to proven safe drivers Tim W. McCollum would favor instituting after a driver reaches 3 million safe miles, when “he/she can probably figure out when he/she is tired and needs sleep.”

What is the most effective enforcement strategy?Other readers showed favor for a shift in enforcement priorities, in some senses already in movement via FMCSA’s MCSAP program for funding state enforcement activities, as I wrote here, and favored in a big way by readers, with 80 percent choosing on-highway behavior enforcement and police presence as the most safety-positive enforcement activity in polling in May.

“Close the scales,” wrote Kevin B. Heath. “Reposition commercial-motor-vehicle enforcement on patrol. If they want to write tickets, look at how professionals are driving and then react to that. You don’t need scales to do the job anymore. The money can be used more strategically.”

Finally, driver education stood large on readers’ mind — and we’re talking four-wheelers, here. Anything the new secretary could do to influence the motoring public’s behavior on the highways would go a long way with trucking pros, readers noted. “Focus more on the four-wheelers and less on trucks,” Jason M. Green summed up the sentiment.

With the continued focus on driver distractions in DOT’s nationwide campaign to increase awareness of unsafe driving behavior, that’s one I imagine the new secretary can hit the ground running with — we need more of it, aimed at the general public of drivers, and while we’re at it, Secretary Foxx, take a look at what owner-operator Steve Bixler had to say about education of drivers on safe maneuvering around big trucks. He’s got some great ideas about driver-training in that regard.



Vote in our poll on issues the Secretary of Transportation should make a priority, based on reader responses to our Facebook queries on the subject, via this link. 

  • No Reform

    These cop agencies dont care what some “truck driver” thinks….Big Money will dictate..thank you.

    ATA and Donahue are busy bringing in AMNESTY and

    all that CHEAP LABOR to take the place of “complainers”.

    Mega Fleet owners are foaming at the mouth at the thought of 11million illegal aliens driving their trucks for 8cpm.

    This new guy is bought and paid can BET ON THAT.

  • Mike Smith

    So this government is putting mostly females, and negros, etc. into top spots in our government. This must be seen for what it is. An attack on the very people who colonized, settled, and built this country from sea to shinning sea. White males are under attack, & government is using females, negros, Mexico/Mexicans, as well as other foreigners to come into our country, take our territory, and drive down our wages, & our life style. We are facing a New Form of Genocide at the hands of SMILING scumbags. People who smile at us & stab us in the back. History dictates when this kind of thing happens revolutionary war follows. Everyone of us needs to flood the internet with this kind of statement.

  • Demitriy Sulima

    so you want truckers take their guns and start war against government?

  • Julio Zamora

    why does DOT allow big companys run 2 time clocks in CA—-1 trip sheet the other clock out in the drivers room————log out of your tractor, still on duty intill you clock out in the drivers room & the clock in the drivers room does not record anything not miles or delay or how many hours you put in for the day, logs payed by the mile, time clock in the drivers room paided by the hour–in which you get paided 0.——–FREE LABOR——————————————————ONLY IN CA——Let See What Mr Anthony Foxx is going to do about this? AUTO Start means Nothing?——–500 trucker Drivers have not been paided the last 10 years I have been there by the second time clock in the drivers room?——-ALRIGHT CA———-

  • Julio Zamora

    dispatcher falsefied my logs, they sent me home and his working, is that how DOT works what happen to reg. 395.15 & 595.16 & 395.8 it does not apply to DISPATCHER? ONLY IN CA

  • Mike Smith

    I want everyone to recognize what’s going on & to speak out against it rather than “bury their heads in the sand”. If there is a constant black of whats happening, by the media, which is what has been happening since the 1970’s nothing will get said or done. Its up to individuals to start talking about, in the same way my forefathers spoke out against the government they were up against. What you you have men do, continue to not say nothing. This country, for us, is descending into chaos, & we are not being enriched. We are being driven down while 3rd world savages that are being given our jobs, our resources, and TAKING our ground. Don’t believe go So CA & look, all Mexicans, go to Vegas. All foreigners. Went to the Great West Truck Show. ALL browns working at the Sands. This is what we are seeing in government. Look at the subject; Foxx.

  • No Reform

    It appears that this is EXACTLY what is happening.

  • No Reform

    Exactly..part of the Agenda.

  • Cwbintennessee Michael Winton

    I love how these pencil pushers in Washington DC are telling us trucking companies how to run and keeping us down.

    I have no clue as to why or how these hours of service have been able to get pushed through other than all of us just lying on our backs and letting it happen.

    Ugh… Onward and upward folks. The money needs to come up across the board and then we’ll talk hours and ”safety”. Loads are too cheap to make a living with a dollar a mile when it costs now 1.60 a mile to run a truck with the new hours in place!

  • martymarsh

    Washington does not know much about trucking, but they have their sources like ATA and other trucking companies that have formed clubs to get things their way. The leader at ATA is ex-governor of Kansas. Then you have wonderful organizations like P.A.T.T and their lobbyist going against you because they think all truck drivers are killers.
    So the truth is known I will keep saying this, they can not regulate REST, and it is about nothing more than the dollar to say you can, not to mention it makes them out to be liars. But then isn’t that what corrupt people do?

  • kiko kika

    Mr. foxx Sir please you can start at the ATA president firts if you really try to help us here in the road..i warn you it’s really a rif-off out here

  • i_hate_big_government

    Gee, He looks like NObama’s long lost “brother”

  • hey_obama_still_sucks

    Obama has a twin brother ?! Well maybe not an identical twin…..

    Hell they all look the same to me. Politicians I mean.

  • beefboi

    I live not too far from Charlotte. I believe this position is a payback more or less through the Natl. Democratic convention that was held there.
    Fox was mayor of Chlt. I dont see he has any qualifications of any kind that would help him serve as transportation chief of the entire nation. This is a payback for being a good lib and for the fine job of rallying the troops in and around Charlotte.
    I will give him the benefit of the doubt and HOPE he does a great job despite landing the position in what I opine to be a race based appointment. There are some critical issues that need to be addressed concerning HOS, our national infrastructure, and other areas. I only hope they are addressed in a sensible, safe, unbiased and straightforward manner.

  • unwildbill

    Why don’t we all get time machines and move to 1939 Germany!….Or 1860 Alabama!

  • Anthony_Foxx_SUXX

    Can we have Trolley Cars on the interstates too ??

    “This week we learn that POTUS is tapping two black politicians from
    North Carolina to go run the machine in D.C. One of them was Anthony
    Foxx, Mayor of Charlotte, who will be running the Federal Department of
    Transportation. That could be amusing when you consider the nonsensical
    Trolley Car (streetcar) controversy in Charlotte. One of those cute
    bauble projects that was rejected by City Council (I believe), but
    wouldn’t die because the Mayor and the leftists think a Trolley Car is
    the answer to transportation issues in the “uptown” area of Charlotte.”

  • one of us

    to: Mike Smith

    Mike, each group that has been encouraged to join trucking (First black men, then American Women and now the Mexican people) to keep the price of labor down. Lowest price is a big motivator for many people. Also they aren’t “taking our jobs”, Employment is given by the employer.Employers want low cost to capture market share. strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.