FMCSA’s Martinez talks ELDs, driver shortages during House hearing

   Washington – Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Administrator Raymond Martinez affirmed his belief in electronic logging devices but said “additional flexibility” is forthcoming for agricultural transporters, during a May 22 hearing before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Highways and Transit Subcommittee.
   FMCSA has granted two 90-day waivers to livestock and insect haulers, and a House Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill for fiscal year 2019 seeks to extend that.
   In his opening statement, Martinez indicated that ELDs are here to stay, saying, “Since beginning my tenure with FMCSA in February, we have engaged with our industry and safety partners, working consistently to maintain the safest transportation system possible. One of the ways FMCSA is working toward these goals is helping industry transition to ELDs to address hours-of-service compliance and driver fatigue.”
   He added that out of nearly 300,000 driver inspections since the beginning of April, less than 1 percent of drivers “have been cited for failing to have an ELD when they were required to have one.”
   Martinez, who was confirmed Feb. 13, also indicated that his agency is looking at flexibility for hours of service. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao said in an appropriations hearing April 12 that she has “encouraged legislation” to clarify HOS requirements.
   Regarding changes to those requirements, Martinez said, “Let’s look at hours of service and see whether some modifications – that is not extending the hours – but providing some flexibility in the current rules. We are engaging with our stakeholders in the regulated community on this and safety advocates to say what would be acceptable.”
   Martinez said proposed changes to the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program were not submitted in December as mandated but are undergoing final review.
   “It’s not holding us up in implementing recommendations and moving forward with corrections,” he said.