September 28, 2020
FleetOwner --- A panel of commercial vehicle drivers is being created to provide feedback to federal regulators on issues such as safety, hours of service (HOS) regulations, training, parking, and driver experience.
“Truck drivers and other commercial vehicle operators are American heroes who have stepped up during the current public health emergency to keep our economy moving, so their input is essential to strengthening safety on the roads,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao said when announcing the new group.
The panel would be made up of 20 to 25 professional drivers. They would work as a subcommittee of the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee (MCSAC), which currently includes experts from the motor carrier safety advocacy, safety enforcement, industry, and labor sectors. The MCSAC was created in 2006 to provide advice and recommendations to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) administrator on motor carrier safety programs and motor carrier safety regulations.
According to the FMCSA, it is seeking to capture a wide array of driver viewpoints with the new advisory group, which would include commercial drivers from various industries: tractor-trailer drivers, straight truck drivers, motorcoach drivers, hazardous materials drivers, agriculture haulers, and more.
“The Department of Transportation and this administration believe in listening to our drivers and hearing their concerns directly,” according to FMCSA Deputy Administrator Wiley Deck, who is currently the acting administrator. “We know that many of the solutions to the challenges we face don’t come from Washington — they come from the hardworking men and women who are behind the wheel all over our nation. This new subcommittee to MCSAC will further help us hear from America’s commercial drivers.”
The MCSAC’s current charter expires Sept. 27, 2021, but has been extended several times since it was first created during the George W. Bush administration. While the top job at the FMCSA has had three different leaders (one Senate-confirmed administrator and two acting leaders), the agency has been able to push forward with HOS rules changes to provide flexibility for drivers.
Four main changes to the HOS rules are scheduled to take effect on September 29. However, four safety advocacy groups are trying to get the courts to hold up the rule changes.