DOT's acting AI chief named FMCSA boss | 16 KW, Pete models caught up in steering recall

Trucking news and briefs for Tuesday, June 25, 2024:

FMCSA names new boss

FMCSA Deputy Administrator Vinn WhiteFMCSA Deputy Administrator Vinn WhiteFMCSAU.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Tuesday announced Vinn White will serve as Deputy Administrator, as well as Acting Administrator, of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

White will take over the role from Sue Lawless, who has served as Acting Deputy Administrator and Acting Administrator since the departure of former FMCSA Administrator Robin Hutcheson in January. Lawless will remain in her previous role as FMCSA's Executive Director and Chief Safety Officer.

Prior to Lawless being named Acting Deputy Administrator, Hutcheson served as administrator since for just more than a year -- the first full-time administrator in three years. She was appointed deputy administrator in January 2022 and became acting administrator when then-acting administrator Meera Joshi resigned to accept a post in the administration of New York City Mayor Eric Adams. FMCSA's top position has been fraught with turnover dating back to 2019. Ray Martinez stepped down in October that year, and the job was then handed to a series of acting administrators before Hutcheson's short tenure: Jim Mullen, Wiley Deck and Joshi.

A member of the Biden-Harris Administration since 2021, White also currently serves as the U.S. DOT’s Acting Chief Artificial Intelligence (AI) Officer, where he oversees implementation of White House Executive Order 14110 to advance and govern the development and use of AI in accordance with the Administration’s guiding principles and priorities. 

“It is an honor to take on this role, and I thank Secretary Buttigieg for his trust and confidence in my ability to lead the important work of FMCSA,” said White. “Our agency is focused on enhancing safety for all roadway users, and I am committed to working with safety partners across the commercial motor vehicle industry to get this work done.”

Prior to joining FMCSA, White was responsible for coordinating U.S. DOT initiatives on emerging transportation technologies, including coordinating cross-departmental policies related to automated driving systems, drone and advanced air mobility systems, surface vehicle-to-everything connectivity, 5G integration with the nation’s critical aviation infrastructure and other sector-facing, innovation-related policy areas.

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White’s appointment in 2021 marked a return to the DOT after previously serving as Acting Assistant Secretary of Transportation for Policy and Deputy Assistant Secretary in 2016, where he was the chief architect for the DOT’s 30-year transportation plan, Beyond Traffic. 

White’s experience and knowledge in transportation spans more than 15 years, FMCSA said, including his tenure as a senior advisor to New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy. During that time, White worked on transportation and mobility policy and engaged closely with the state's DOT, Motor Vehicle Commission, NJ TRANSIT, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to inform strategies and approaches. 

[Related: FMCSA's Hutcheson resigning from Administrator post]

Owners of new Paccar trucks advised not to drive due to recall

Paccar is recalling nearly 4,000 model year 2025 Kenworth and Peterbilt trucks over concerns that the tie rod or drag link assembly may contain an improperly heat-treated ball stud, causing the ball stud to break, causing a complete loss of steering control, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration documents.

Affected are approximately 3,887 model year 2025 Kenworth K270, K370, T280, T380, T480, T680, T880, W900 and W990 models; and 2025 Peterbilt 220, 536, 537, 548, 567, 579, and 589 trucks.

Owners are advised not to drive their vehicles until the remedy has been completed. Dealers will inspect and replace the tie rod and drag link assemblies as necessary, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed Aug. 11. Owners can contact Kenworth customer service at 425-828-5888 with recall number 24KWG and Peterbilt customer service at 940-591-4220 with recall number 24PBG. NHTSA’s recall number is 24V-433.

Other manufacturers have also recently issued recalls due to improperly heat-treated ball studs, including Daimler, Volvo and Mack

[Related: Numerous recalls announced across major OEMs]

Mack's BEV recalled for High Voltage (HV) connector fix

Mack Trucks is recalling 24 model year 2024 MD Electric vehicles that may not have the mechanical connector lock properly engaged for the High Voltage cable.

An improperly locked connector may come loose over time, and may result in a sudden loss of power. 

Owners are advised not to drive their vehicles until the remedy has been completed. Dealers will inspect and repair the mechanical connector lock as necessary, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed Aug. 2. Owners may contact Mack customer service at 800-866-1177 with recall number SC0467. NHTSA’s recall number is 24V-447.

New Love’s in Missouri offers 89 truck parking spaces

Love’s Travel Stops last week opened a new location in Sarcoxie, Missouri, off I-44.

The new truck stop offers 89 truck parking spaces, an Arby’s restaurant, nine diesel lanes, 10 showers and more.