Truck drivers, fleet personnel and owner-operator advocates voiced their concerns Friday at the Mid-America Trucking Show about the DOT’s electronic logging device mandate and provided their thoughts on the “Beyond Compliance” program the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is required to establish, per the FAST Act highway bill.
See video clips of some of the comments made during the session at the bottom of this post.
A listening session on the Beyond Compliance program was held Friday, April 1 with a panel of three FMCSA officials – Bill Quade, Associate Administrator for Enforcement and Program Delivery; Pamela Rice, Kentucky Division Administrator; and Larry Minor, Associate Administrator for Policy.
The FAST Act mandated that the FMCSA develop a program to reward carriers for going beyond the necessary measures to comply with safety regulations.
Drivers opened conversation during the session focusing on ELDs and the mandate that will go into effect in December 2017. Owner-operators Jerry Gould and Mike Miller said they believe ELDs will decrease safety on the highways rather than increase it.
“I’ve been doing this a long time…I can’t see anything where the ELD is going to make this industry any safer,” Miller said. “If anything, it’s going to be worse. The way I drive is not going to be conducive to the ELD. When I get tired I go to sleep.”
Miller added he feels like FMCSA is “making decisions for me, and I speak for all owner-operators, and it’s just not going to work for us.” A portion of Miller’s address to the panel can be seen at the bottom of this post.
When the topic shifted to the focus of the meeting — the Beyond Compliance program — a few drivers and fleet safety managers came forward to speak. Todd Spencer, vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, said things need to be done to address “real safety.” Spencer’s full address to the panel can be seen at the bottom of this post.
“There are a lot of concerns with the CSA program in general,” he said. “What we’re really looking for here is perhaps already there, and it’s the crash indicator BASIC. Some drivers crash and some don’t. Realistically, the system we need is one that recognizes these folks that don’t crash.”
Quade responded to Spencer and said the Crash Indicator scores can’t be made public until after the FMCSA receives the results of a study by the National Academies of Sciences.
“Making that BASIC public has to wait until after results of the study, but once that is done, it might be on the table,” Quade said.
Quade added it will probably be a year to 18 months before the BASICs can be worth consideration to go public again.
Spencer echoed other drivers’ concerns that things need to be done beyond new technology.
“There are a lot of things we could do to improve safety and actually save lives,” he said. “I think Beyond Compliance ought to be something more than bells and whistles. We need to recognize good performance, safe performance, and reward it.”
Jared Fritts with Landstar’s safety division said he was concerned how a Beyond Compliance program would affect companies like Landstar with a business model of 100 percent owner-operators. Quade said a company with that type of business model would be presented with a different set of challenges, but that FMCSA wants to structure the program so that no type of business is excluded.
“I get that on an owner-operator model, it’s harder to put crash avoidance systems on all the trucks, but it’s not necessarily about technology,” Quade said. “Maybe some additional training programs or other things such as compensation to drivers for safety could be viewed as going beyond compliance.”
Crete Carrier Corp Chief Operating Officer Tim Aschoff addressed the panel about things Crete already does to be beyond compliant and added he feels a separate BASIC would be a good way to reward carriers that do go above and beyond regulations.
“Recognizing beyond compliance separately would have more impact on a company like us,” he said. “If you’re going beyond the regulations, your company probably has a good CSA score already.”
For those not present at the meeting or watching online, comments can still be made here until June 22.