As of February 15th, 2018, Raymond Martinez is officially the new chief of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and Ronald Batory takes over as head of the Federal Railroad Administration, after the pair received Senate confirmation.
Martinez will now find himself in the center of the ongoing debates on electronic logging devices in commercial motor vehicles and sleep apnea screenings and treatment for drivers. When asked his opinion regarding ELDs during an appearance before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on Oct. 31, Martinez said,
“Everything that we approach this with is through that lens of safety. It would be my intention, if confirmed, to first and foremost abide by the law, but also to have an open-door policy and work with all the impacted stakeholders.”
In August, FMCSA and FRA withdrew a joint advance notice of proposed rulemaking that sought to gather data and information on moderate to severe sleep apnea among safety-sensitive workers in highway and rail transportation. Seen by its opponents as big government interference and concerns about privacy, mandatory ELD use has survived numerous court challenges in the past. There continues to be controversy over whether or not small businesses need to implement these changes and the enormous expense that comes with it. A 2014 FMCSA report that showed carriers using ELDs experienced 11.7 percent fewer crashes and a 50 percent reduction in hours-of-service violations compared with carriers that used paper logs. All road users, including truck drivers, are at risk for losing focus behind the wheel if they haven’t gotten adequate rest.
Every year, there are nearly 44,000 drowsy driving-related injuries on American roads. Some drivers may not recognize the effects that sleep deprivation can have on their bodies, but these effects are very real: neurons in the brain slow down, which in turn slows reasoning and reaction times. Short-term memory begins to suffer as well. Driving requires instant judgments that the body just can’t make without rest.
While many carriers loudly voice their opposition to FMCSA’s Hours of Service Regulations these rules don’t exist simply to inconvenience truck drivers and trucking companies. They help to protect the health and safety of everyone, including those of the truckers.