Rearview: 17 years of FMCSA oversight

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Overdrive‘s Rearview series is a new recurring monthly feature taking a historical look at the trucking industry through the lens of archived editions of Overdrive.

Long before FMCSA’s creation in 2001, Overdrive, since its founding in 1961, has been a watchdog of trucking regulation. One of its early targets was the antiquated Interstate Commerce Commission, noted in this ad from the Overdrive-sponsored Independent Truckers Association. The magazine’s rallying of independent truckers against the ICC helped lead to the beginning of the agency’s end in 1980.Long before FMCSA’s creation in 2001, Overdrive, since its founding in 1961, has been a watchdog of trucking regulation. One of its early targets was  the antiquated Interstate Commerce Commission, noted in this ad from the Overdrive-sponsored Independent Truckers Association. The magazine’s rallying of independent truckers against the ICC helped lead to the beginning of the agency’s end in 1980.

Less than 20 years after Congress passed the Motor Carrier Act of 1980 to deregulate trucking, legislators passed a bill to establish a new federal agency tasked with regulating the industry.

The Motor Carrier Safety Act of 1999 created the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration under the U.S. Department of Transportation. Up to then, truck-related enforcement was handled by DOT’s Federal Highway Administration. Congress gave the new entity the reins to more thoroughly regulate trucking and public transportation companies, their equipment, their drivers and more.

Quoted in the January 2000 Overdrive, then-U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater foreshadowed the coming regulatory activism, saying the new law will allow “the department and states to more effectively identify problem drivers, take remedial action and get high-risk drivers off the road. It will enable us to ensure the safety fitness of newly formed motor carrier companies, levy strong sanctions on foreign carriers who operate illegally … and impose stiff fines on violators.”

In its nearly 17-year history, FMCSA has reached deep into owner-operators’ lives in ways small and large. It’s warned truckers about the potential hazards of electronic cigarettes and pioneered complex initiatives, including hours of service overhauls and the creation of the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program.

Many other ambitious regulations are in various stages of FMCSA enactment: mandates for electronic logging devices and speed limiters, mandatory sleep apnea screening and a database of truckers who have failed a drug test.

Overdrive’s February 2012 issue covered the most recent major hours of service overhaul, instituted in 2013. The rule sparked a pushback from Congress in 2014, muddying the future of hours regulation. Congress and FMCSA have yet to clear up the uncertainty or fully address the industry’s complaints.Overdrive’s February 2012 issue covered the most recent major hours of service overhaul,
instituted in 2013. The rule sparked a pushback from Congress in 2014, muddying the future of hours regulation. Congress and FMCSA have yet to clear up the uncertainty or fully address the industry’s complaints.
Overdrives coverage of the establishment of FMCSA, from the January 2001 issue.Overdrives coverage of the establishment of FMCSA, from the January 2001 issue.
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