Scott Darling, who’s run the DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for little over two years, expressed gratitude toward and said goodbye Thursday to the industries he was tasked with regulating. Darling spoke via phone with industry press in an emotional address January 19 — his final day of holding the office.
“It’s been an incredible ride the last two years. In my small way I hope I have both strengthened and expanded our safety partnerships,” Darling said, referring to his promise to make 2016 “a year of partnerships” with the industries FMCSA oversees — trucking and motorcoach.
Darling has run the agency since August 2014, when then-Administrator Anne Ferro stepped down. Darling was nominated by President Obama in August 2015 to officially assume the role of FMCSA administrator. He was confirmed by the Senate last July.
Trucking, said Darling, is a main component of U.S. economic progress. Even with growing interest and advancement in automation, “trucking’s not going anywhere,” he said. “Trucks are the key linchpin to make sure this economy moves forward. I can’t see it being any different five years from now than it is today.”
Darling said he’ll continue to be an advocate for trucking even after his post as administrator ends. “I’m going to be telling [trucking’s story] every day to everyone I talk to. But I also want them to start telling that story. I appreciate everything [truck drivers] do to make sure safe trucking moves the economy. I will never forget the work that they do and the importance that they have in this nation.”
Fostering industry partnerships is the “single most important task” of the next FMCSA administrator, Darling said. “I always say that safe trucking moves the economy. So safety and the economic commercial interests should not be two separate pieces. They should be together,” he said. “We need everybody’s voice for us to make sure safe trucking moves the economy.”
Darling says he hopes his successor, who’ll be appointed by President-elect Trump and will require a Senate confirmation, continues to build upon his push to build stronger relationships with trucking and to try to gain first hand experience about the industry.
“My advice would be to get out there. Get out there and figure out what the concerns are and figure out what the issues are,” he said. “And then bring that back and communicate it to those at headquarters.”