Last month the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced that it will be adding a new panel to its Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee. This one will be made up of drivers of commercial vehicles, and their job will be to provide feedback to FMCSA on issues affecting the trucking industry.
The panel will be made up of 20-25 drivers, which FMCSA says will cover all sectors of trucking including tractor-trailer drivers, drivers of straight trucks, motor coach drivers, hazardous materials drivers, drivers of agricultural haulers and more. Topics that are likely to be covered include parking, training and hours of service regulations.
As we all know, rulemaking is a long and complicated process and too often it seems we end up with rules and regulations that are difficult to follow in the real world. I know that when rules are being written there is opportunity for the industry to give input, but at that point it often seems like it is almost too late to affect real change and the best we can hope for is a few tweaks to make things a bit better.
I like the idea of FMCSA having a driver committee proving “advice and recommendations to the FMCSA Administrator on motor carrier safety programs and motor carrier safety regulations,” early in the rulemaking process.
According to the FMCSA website, committee members will be recommended by the FMCSA administrator and appointed by the Secretary of Transportation for two-year terms. Members will be chosen from a field of many qualified candidates who possess a wide range of motor carrier experience and expertise, the agency says.
FMCSA also says the goal of this initiative is to “capture the wide array of viewpoints and experiences within the [commercial motor vehicle] community.”
Getting grassroots feedback in the early stages of rulemaking hopefully will help avoid potential pitfalls in final regulations. I am looking at this as an opportunity for drivers to get a seat at the rulemaking table.
I hope the drivers who are selected to be on the committee will provide honest feedback, and that FMCSA will give that input serious consideration as it works on ways to continue to make trucking as safe as possible within the context of the real-world conditions drivers face each and every day.