In light of the recent confirmation hearing, STC has been reflecting on the alarming turnover at FMCSA top spot since the last confirmed administrator, Ray Martinez, left the top spot in November 2019. In the last two and a half years, FMCSA has hosted four acting administrators including Jim Mullen, Wiley Deck, Meera Jooshi and now Hutcheson. This has created predictable challenges in pursuing a robust agenda to attack historically rising and currently high crash totals.
The best example is the Agency’s approach to CSA. Each of the most recent acting administrators seemed poised to deliver a plan to address the NAS’ recommendations. Unfortunately, their short-lived tenures resulted in FMCSA hitting the brakes and reassessing the work of previous acting administrators. Each made promising statements on progress they’d made, only to step away and leave the task to the next boss who, understandably, wanted to get up to speed on its complicated history and methodology before determining the best path forward.
Meanwhile, crashes continue to rise and the Agency’s ability to make any significant progress has been hamstrung. FMCSA needs a clearly articulated strategic vision on how to address critical safety issues and fatalities. It needs to be one that is based on recurring review of program, regulatory and enforcement effectiveness and one less subject to the political and philosophic whims of whomever is leading the Agency at one given moment. FMCSA also needs to develop a sound and evidence-based plan, strategies and measures that are grounded in the expertise of experienced safety and trucking professionals and stick to it, regardless of the ship’s captain.