channel 19

Todd Dills

Voices on the call for FMCSA head to resign

| June 10, 2014

Be careful what you ask for. Those words came from owner-operator Henry Albert. He wasn’t talking about the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association’s call, issued last Friday, for the resignation of FMCSA chief Anne Ferro. Those words summed up his message, essentially, following a lot of what he heard from drivers participating in the now-long-ago listening sessions on the hours of service revisions that went into effect last year. 

On those revisions — those relative to the restart particularly onerous, Albert notes — he saw then that FMCSA could easily be viewed as having listened to drivers in crafting the rule, if they didn’t hear the call for flexibility, as I’ve written. From my memory of the listening sessions, take these two major complaints, from drivers: 

**Carriers too often insist on drivers maximizing all available 11 hours of drive time. 
**Carriers too often position drivers to take their restarts at odd hours of their weekend so they weren’t getting restorative sleep. 

Ask and you shall receive: Later, we got the 30-minute break and the requirement that two 1-5 a.m. periods be included in the restart. 

Anne Ferro pictured with owner-operators John Taylor (right) and Steve Bixler (center) at OOIDA's 2014 40th-anniversary Heart of America trucking show.

Anne Ferro pictured with owner-operators John Taylor (right) and Steve Bixler (center) at OOIDA’s 2013 40th-anniversary Heart of America trucking show.

When OOIDA’s call for Ferro’s resignation came across the desk last week Friday, Albert’s words came to mind. At once, I was well primed to meet the reasoning behind that call with an affirmative nod of the head. With certainly more-than-routine driver and trucking vilification in the headlines all week last week, when regulatory consultant Richard Wilson posted early Friday morning on his Facebook profile about Ferro’s June 3 entry on the Fast Lane blog, he made arguments similar to those OOIDA would make later on that day in their own public letter to the Department of Transportation secretary, and it was easy to see Ferro’s post as out of hand for the chief trucking-safety regulator in the nation.

Wilson, and OOIDA to a certain degree, equates the tactics employed in the blog to those employed by the law firm’s “serial killer” ad you’re likely familiar with at this point

Ferro’s post’s rhetorical strategies are indeed more akin to those of a marketer unconcerned with reality beyond his or her pursued goal, as the post picks out a few tragic examples of fatigue-related crashes to make a case that Congress shouldn’t suspend changes to the 34-hour restart. Look no further than the post’s primary (before the colon) title for evidence of such exaggerated strategies: “Congress shouldn’t roll back safety,” as if the restart’s 1-5 a.m. periods and once-per-week use provisions are the bedrock of safe operation. Not to mention, too, that there is no mention of the 34-hour restart in the post, period, essentially discouraging those outside the know from engaging in the particulars of the debate. 

Related

Citing ‘bias against truckers,’ OOIDA calls for resignation of FMCSA head Anne Ferro

OOIDA has sent Anthony Foxx a letter asking for FMCSA head Anne Ferro to resign, saying she has a "clear bias against truckers and the ...

Then there’s her finale, in which the Administrator does urge further study on hours generally, then adds: “But this we know right now: suspending the current Hours-of-Service safety rules will expose families and drivers to greater risk every time they’re on the road.”

To the less-informed observer (i.e., members of the general public, quick on the uptake to call their Congressional representatives), it sounds like the entirety of the hours rules are at stake. 

In spite of all, though, more than one commenter wondered whether an outright call for Ferro’s resignation was the right move — might it render OOIDA’s regulatory efforts outside the Congress and the courts in future less effective, whether Administrator Ferro remains at the head or not? Wilson himself stops well short of calling for anyone’s resignation in his posted commentary as well as later follow-up conversation, instead hammering away at issues of regulatory change — the need for a greater focus on chameleon carriers, for instance, and the entry-level training standards FMCSA seems to have been dragging its feet on for years now. 

Does Ferro’s post rise to the level of lobbying?
James Lamb, of DOTAuthority.com and the AIPBA small-brokers business league, issued a statement following OOIDA’s June 6 call for Ferro’s resignation that expressed the opposite sentiment relative to the FMCSA Administrator. It also offered an argument against OOIDA’s charge that Ferro had violated federal rules against executive-branch lobbying of Congress. “We do not believe a reasonable person would conclude that Ms. Ferro’s public blog post via an Executive branch agency’s website constitutes a direct communication to a member of Congress that entails ‘lobbying’,” argues Lamb’s release. You can read it in full via this link.

Find the full text of OOIDA’s letter to Foxx via this link. 

However, if our poll on the issue is any indicator, most readers are in favor of OOIDA’s move — as of this moment, more than 90 percent of poll respondents say they support it. If you haven’t voted as yet, you can do so via this link.

There’s still that nagging little voice in the back of my head, though, Albert’s thoughts on the hours listening sessions back when. Say Anne Ferro were to resign and get on going along her merry way. Might what we got next, ultimately, be well worse than what we have? 

Below find a round-up of some other voices on the issue, and weigh in yourself below or via the poll

Commenting at OverdriveOnline.com:
“Safetygirl”: [In Anne Ferro's blog post mentioned above] there was so much gloss and so little right that it was frustrating to read… . We all want safety. My kids are out there driving with the big rigs. Let’s not allow our leaders to use tragedy to build their own political careers. Let’s focus on the real problems and address them. If necessary we should prune out those who stand in the way of Safety. 

Mark Platt: OOIDA has finally stepped up on this issue, and they have it right. … If we do not gain control of this runaway [insurance-hike] legislation and rulemaking this administration is going to irrevocably damage our economy.

Related

Owner-operator walk-and-talk with Anne Ferro

Several operators took the opportunity the Trucking Solutions Group's health walk at MATS represented to walk-and-talk issues with FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro.

“John”: People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Ms. Ferro has been the only administrator that has actually sat down with drivers and seems to have a real concern about our issues. She doesn’t make the laws and she doesn’t set the agenda — the White House and DOT Secretary do that.

Allen Smith: This statement in OOIDA’s letter is clearly one that should be taken seriously, regardless of the outcome of their intended request: ”FMCSA has largely ignored or moved at a snail’s pace on efforts that professional truckers know will have a positive impact on highway safety. The clearest example of this is the absolute lack of action on entry-level driver training standards, despite the fact that Congress first called for such standards more than 20 years ago and restated that call in the recent MAP-21 highway bill. Despite the common-sense safety benefits of such an approach, the agency has argued that the benefits of training cannot be proven, and that it must study the issue further.”

 

Weigh in yourself via the poll at this link. 

  • Timekill

    Hope she die puta

  • Chazz111

    Ann Ferro walking around asking truck driver questions is the same thing DOT inspectors do, they walk with you ask how your family is doing, tell you about there family, then they stick a knife in your back.

  • Sportsbozo1

    As a driver in the 3 million miles Accident free club, I will say that the reasons for accidents happening are multiple. When talking about training truck drivers the same could be said for four and two wheel drivers. The drivers of four wheel vehicles are for the most part untrained as most high schools have abandoned drivers education as part of their mandatory curriculum. When I was in high school you had to take this class and pass before you could even get a permit to drive! As for Truck drivers everyone has to go to Truck Driving School, however this training isn’t sufficient enough to allow the drivers to just go out and start driving without additional training.

  • guest

    Anne Baby is Goose Stepping around her office in High gear now pointing to the Walmart Crash….”see I told you so”….she must be screaming….MORE RULES in the Name Of Safety…..

  • guest

    They may WISH she would resign..but after this Walmart homicidal maniac driver’s Crash……aint NO WAY she will feel any heat.

  • guest

    Anne is purdy much Vindicated….This High Profile Walmart killing accident occurred after 1am…and the dumb Walmart renegade driver had no sleep in 25 hours……Text book example of what she is telling everyone……companies like WALMART have no control of their drivers so the COPS need to Enforce the Rules for them??? How do argue that she is Full of Crap now??????

  • guest

    Even WALMART has killing maniacs at the wheel??? Doing what they damn well please??? Law enforcement can go to hell?? This is going to put More screws to truckers…..and Anne will prevail……Walmart is one of the more tightly monitored Elog companies….High profile with a LOT to lose by being NEGLIGENT as they were here….The argument is being taken up now by safety groups…saying if somebody like WALMART is running Death Machines…….the small companies HAVE to be totally out of control!!!! Begin the WITCH Hunt……..

  • MW Girl

    I listened to these sessions and I Henry and I talked about what the drivers were asking for and it was with dread as we were afraid FMCSA were listening. Yep they were listening to the drivers complain about companies “make” them drive 11 hours and they needed a nap, and now we have 1/2 hour break. Next we here of companies ‘forcing” their drivers to drive odd hours after a 34 hour restart. They really listened and gave the drivers what they asked for. It might not be in the form they were expecting but it cured both problems.

    I appreciate that Anne does get out and talk to drivers over and over and over… Even the ones that do not treat her with any respect she listens to. She walks into the lions den at the truck shows to talk about what she is doing and to listen to drivers. What other administrator has ever done this?

    I do not think we need to worry about the next one we need to keep Anne

  • lastgoodusername

    the poll in this article is enough to vindicate her. The powers in charge see that as their agenda is working. Do you think the ATA and the Trucking Alliance wheels took the time to weigh in on the survey?

  • Blessedman

    The Wal-Mart driver may well have been driving legal. After all he was running E-Logs. The requirement is for 10 hours off duty. There is no requirement for how much sleep one gets. He could have had something on his mind that he couldn’t sleep. When the 10 hours of off duty were over then back to work.
    It could have been legal but not wise.
    Having more rules would not have changed what happened but that won’t keep FMCSA from claiming it will and pushing for more.

  • Shadow Hauling

    back in 78 when I started driving we had the 10 hours and if you got tired after driving 4-5 hours you could take a break and catch several or more hours of sleep without worrying about going over hours. Now it’s if I’m tired I either stop and loose hours in the day and loose money or keep driving tired and risk an accident. I can’t figure their reasoning behind the change other than someone and big companies wanting smaller competing companies out of the way and pushed this through. There is no logic to it. I would rather go back to the 10 hours and let us do them during the day as we please. Do away with the two nightly stops. I’m a grown 59 year old man and don’t need anyone to tell me when I’m tired and when to go to bed and how long I have to sleep.

  • Sportsbozo1

    Yeah I never understood the reasoning behind changing the 10 hour rule either it wasn’t broken so why fix it? Oh well Shadow Hauling no matter what they do we can’t strike and fix it ourselves thnx to Ronald Reagan! Take a trucker from every company with at least 2.5 million miles accident free and let them march in and tell these bureaucrats what they need to do, and maybe it gets straightened out otherwise prepare for retirement.

  • martymarsh

    I have just got to ask, what do you mean we can’t strike thanks to Reagan? Does someone own you? But the reasoning for that change was because the revenue agents couldn’t write so many tickets because that kept you out of violation, where now it is do your days work without regard to how you feel and THEN take your break or we got ya.

  • Sportsbozo1

    We as a group are not allowed to strike because Ronald Reagan made it an act of treason should America’s Trucking industry attempt to go on strike for any reason. When the Air traffic controllers wanted to go on strike, The Reagan administration passed a law through congress that would stop any further strikes by them and he also included the Trucking industry in the bill as an addendum to the amendment. So there you have why I say we can’t strike to get better working conditions.

  • Sportsbozo1

    In the case of the Walmart driver he broke the unwritten rule of speaking without an Attorney present. He should have kept quiet. Every safety department in the trucking industry would have told him to admit no fault. Am I saying he was wrong in doing so? Absolutely not, every man has too make his own decision when faced with that situation.

  • martymarsh

    I know very well about the air traffic controllers, but that was a union job. Now how true the rest is I certainly couldn’t call you a liar, but I can also say I couldn’t care less. If I wasn’t a Christian I would tell you in a few choice words what I think about our corrupt government and what they say about strikes. I can’t fathom someone even worrying about something like this. That is the least of your worries anyway, we can’t 2 people to agree on anything, divide and conquer has worked well.

  • JPMINN

    what difference will it really make if she would step down? Our dipshit president will just appoint another mindless beaurecrat to replace her, another politician who knows nothing about trucking.

  • A G

    You are right, the biggest problem is driver training. lots of drivers go on the road and don’t know much about what is going on in this field. Some work hard , some barely working. Those which don’t want to work hard should not be surprised if a company ask them to leave. Driving is not for everybody. A truck cost at least $100/ day (payments, insurance, etc) without driver costs. If a driver over the road is not capable to drive at least 2500 miles a week , in most cases that truck is a liability not an asset.Some companies which offer the opportunity to a driver to make good money, they wont tolerate lazy drivers. Many don’t understand that a company hire people to make money not for charity. If a company doesn’t make money how a driver can make money. If a driver works hard and he knows what he’s doing he should make at least $1000/ week. There are many truck driver jobs available, cut for everybody so a driver can not say that say that a company forced him to do something, he can get a job next day if he is a good driver and a reasonable person. Many laws are passed for safety because of bad drivers. Try to be a good driver ,a reasonable person and you will make good money !

  • Sportsbozo1

    I’m glad you didn’t call me a liar because you would have been mistaken. I don’t have any worries as I’m not going to be driving much longer, but for those of you who claim to be Christian good luck trying to make a living as a truck driver after the next 3 year period. as for getting two people to agree on any one subject your probably right.

  • martymarsh

    I’m already retired, and I ask myself all the time, what are you doing here? The people that are still driving don’t care enough to do anything about all that is going on. I guess it is the people that are in favor of the corrupt system that keep bringing me back.

  • centerlaneshow

    OOIDA made the right call in asking for Ann Ferro’s to resign she has done more damage than good. She has been putting her personal issue against the industry first. US 18 Code 1913 was the final straw but unfortunately is will fall on def ears because Anthony Foxx won’t listen because he is not the right man for his position. Senior drivers leaving the industry because of the rule changes. Accident increases due to the rule changes does not make for safer driver’s. All it made was more corporate control over drivers to maximize HOS. Which creates more accidents. Then we have more Insurance required which is just putting a bigger bulls eye on the trucking Industry as a whole for more fraudulent claims and scams.

    With all these current changes it will also force O/O and small family fleets to either lease themselves to major firms or be forced out. Now where is the American Way of Life in that. Dreams crushed all because of one woman’s hidden agenda.

  • Shalom Jacobs

    “To be a trucker you must first be an OOIDA.”
    under the leadership of Anne Ferro, the FMCSA quickly becomes a dictatorship.
    their latest scam regarding NPRM drivers coercion is just one more step in that direction.
    here are MY comments ‘as filed’ :
    “This PRM in-fact, eliminate the Justice branch altogether in the name of safety.
    The PRM say: ” in case of Coercion, FMCSA could impose a
    civil penalty not to exceed 11,000$ per offense, in addition the rule would authorize the FMCSA to suspend, amend or revoke the operating authority registration of a for-hire motor carrier, broker or freight forwarder…”
    IF that would have been an isolated incident, then so be it,
    but this agency already have similar rules, it created without congressional mandates, regarding cellphone use by drivers, HHG movers website, reoccurring carriers & repeated offender carriers{it’s subjectively deemed immediate hazard} …to name just a few.
    Under the current leadership, the FMCSA became the accuser, Judge & executor.
    I do not think that this is what congress had in mind, when they mandated this issue under MAP-21.
    Do to the magnitude effects of this rules making on our
    society, the LEAST that the agency should do, is take it back to congress for consideration. ”
    - be informed!
    Obviously truckers have all right to be concerned.
    she overstayed our invitation.

  • Fageol

    My take on Ferro’s 6/3/14 message:

    Regarding Anne Ferro’s message of June 3, 2014:

    Para 1: Most of us who have CDLs must have ICC physicals in order for our licenses to be in force. If a parameter, e.g. indications of diabetes, are exceeded , either one doesn’t get a physical certificate or one gets a certificate for less than two years. If the DOT were so interested in safety, it would develop alertness standards that may be checked by a physician or checked via some physiological test. That we have to have physicals now from some set of “approved” (“approved” means more paperwork, fees, BS) medical personnel indicates that truckers are to be treated as individuals.

    But creating uniform on-duty times puts truckers in one big old undifferentiated group. This must be current federal logic. I’m almost ashamed to admit that at one time I was a GS 11 — but it was for an agency that made sense at the time as opposed to now.

    Alertness as opposed to off-duty time of any duration is the desired quality. If the feds can pay (the NIH) to determine what occurs to the sex lives of folks and critters on marijuana and like stuff, it should be able to use taxpayer funds to actually enhance public safety on the highways with some applicable research.

    Para 2: GDP growth exists… barely. Obama disparages it as he claims and numbers show it is unequally distributed.. Even the left-leaning mainstream media (do you want a reference from the NYT?) admits to our non-growing economy. Nice try Ms. Ferro but save the BS of the “continued economic recovery” quote; it’s just plain dumb even if you base the statement on the ginned up numbers of the DOL. Truckers can get enough BS on the road, at shippers, at terminals, etc. Further, isn’t that the reason that Obama claimed that this year or for the rest of his terms he would focus on jobs — maybe he’ll promise another three million jobs. Maybe those jobs will be for our masters in China.

    Para 3: You claim an 18% increase in truck crashes. What was the percentage of those caused by trucks? Further, what was the comparable increase in traffic since 2009? Please put your allegation in context. And save the attempt at validity by quoting some numbers that don’t go to the essence of the argument. Further, one can pick up the NSC publication “Traffic Safety” of September 2013 and read: “Researchers said the findings of overall large truck crash rates decreasing could understate improvements made in the heavy-duty truck group, as well as hide the increasing crash rates in the medium-duty group, according to the report.”

    Para 4: Again you report no context for your 13% fatigued claim. Who considered those drivers fatigued? What standard was used for determining fatigue? Your plea to Congress is at best off track and your numbers are unsupported. That drivers don’t want to admit liability is understandable: you and I both know the it was Bush who caused those crashes. Truckers are just following the example of our blessed leader.

    Para 5: Unsubstantiated, out-of-context, unreviewed numbers can be the basis for the feds to make more rules, employ more investigators, enforcers, clerks, supervisors, trainers, guards, janitors, etc. and, as usual, produce little or nothing for the benefit of citizens and the horde of ObamAliens. And for this and the above you can conclude that I’m a racist, homophobe, hater, fascist, and a probably a few other current-administration-made-up-and-supported pathologies. And stomping out those pathologies requires the force of government and the funding to government. Take that NSA.

    Para 6: “Common sense, data-driven changes…” Having driven for Consolidated Freightways in the late 1960s and off and on since then, I and truckers with whom I’ve communicated either have no common sense. Further you claim these changes were “data-driven.” The data that you gave in this message was unsupported and I doubt that it was peer-reviewed. Please publish the who, what, and how of your peer review. Or was the peer review lost like Lerner/IRS emails?

    Para 7: Please identify how you came up with those numbers. Are they peer reviewed? Who or what did the analysis? You should have that information.

    Para 8: If one accepts your unsupported numbers “Seems reasonable…” is a logical conclusion. At the risk of impugning those in other skills you regulate, your train of thought is derailed, perhaps you should have had more off-duty time prior to writing this.

    Para 9: I hope a few of those to whom your report or comments were addressed can think. Because Congress is so ill-thought-of, maybe you can get away with this patched-together mumbo jumbo.

    Para 10 and following: It’s common to argue from outliers. Your concern for the injured is admirable. Please pass concern for those who are supposed to be protected by our government up the line to the former Secretary of State. Of course her riposte would probably be, “What difference does (the fact that people died) it make?”

    Penultimate paragraph: Oh the positive side, I admire your motherhood. Rearing children is work. With a little luck they won’t learn much from our political leaders.

    Ultimate paragraph: Us citizens are happy that somebody is continuing to study fatigue. But why not study alertness? Or is undifferentiated fatigue some sort of Zen-like opposite of undifferentiated alertness?

    Peace

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