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FMCSA Speech Excerpts, Testimony, Blogs

In Praise of the Trucking Industry

June 6, 2014

Opening Statement, House Committee on Small Business, November 21, 2013


“Truck drivers work some of the toughest and longest hours of anyone, and in some of the most difficult conditions possible.  It is a demanding and underappreciated job.  Our changes to the hours of service rules will help truck drivers avoid long term health problems that can be caused by these demanding schedules and will help prevent an estimated 1,400 crashes, 560 injuries, and save 19 lives a year by reducing the risk of fatigue related crashes.  These 19 lives could be your daughter’s kindergarten class, your son’s little league team or your own extended family.”



OOIDA Hear of America Trucking Show, October 18, 2013

I’m happy to recognize the outstanding safety achievements of the many industry members in attendance today.  You demonstrate dedication to safety: every trip, every driver, and every load. 

You operate within tight budgets, battle road congestion and manage competing priorities.  You embody a deep commitment to your customers – keeping them at the heart of everything you do.

It’s a testament to your safety culture – one that rewards drivers that are well-trained and well-rested, and promotes vehicles that are well-maintained.”


Drivers Forum, Mid America Truck Show, March 23, 2012


Drivers make the difference; you beat the odds every day.  Safe roads begin and end with you. ” ** “We all know that some wait time at shipping and receiving facilities is to be expected in the unloading and loading of trucks.   We do believe that more can done to reduce the impact of excessive wait times on hours of service violations.  In many cases, drivers have no control or way to improve or eliminate most of these inefficiencies.”



Bank of America, Merrill Lynch Transportation Conference, May 17, 2012


 “In just a year, we are finding that rates of all safety violations have decreased by 9 percent and driver violation rates have decreased by 12 percent. We hear from carriers that drivers are paying more attention than ever to driving safely. 


We applaud the companies and drivers who are making these changes to be safer on the road.”



Breakfast of Champions, National Truck Driving Championships, August 9, 2012


“I have great respect and admiration for the work you do.  You move the products that make our economy work — efficiently, reliably, and safely. It’s because of drivers like you that our Nation’s highways are safer than they’ve ever been.

And, you do all of this while facing many challenges—more than ever—in today’s economy. You successfully manage the often hectic, stressful, and demanding job behind the wheel.


Companies need good drivers and you have the qualities every company should seek.

You set an exceptional example among your peers and make an unmistakable contribution to improving safety on our Nation’s highways.  


And, you are part of a workforce that carries more than 70 percent of all freight transported in the U.S. That’s a big job; you have much about which to be proud.”


Maryland Motor Truck Association General Membership Meeting, November 6 2013

“Just two days ago, I finished a ride-along with Leo Wilkins, an owner operator I met at a safety awards presentation in Kansas City.  From Sunday morning until Monday afternoon, I rode with him from Upper Marlboro with stops in Harrisburg, Indianapolis, Riverton, Illinois, and onto St. Louis.  My job was to experience what the programs we put in place really mean to an owner operator.

I saw first-hand the challenges drivers face and that the shipper and receives play a large part in those challenges. I saw how traffic, weather, the 14-hour driving window and the stop at the weigh station have a lot to do in making trip planning so difficult for a driver.”


Transportation and Logistics Council Annual Conference, March 17, 2014


“Some people say that crashes are unavoidable and that there is no point in trying to drive down the truck related fatality rate down to zero. 


But we want all drivers and the people they share the road with to get home safely and companies want their employees to be safe and successful.”

[Christmas blog post about how truckers never take a holiday]

This weekend, many Americans will be on the road. Whether they're heading toward reunions with family or friends, they'll be sharing the highways with others heading toward similarly warm gatherings of loved ones.


They'll also be sharing the highways with America's truck drivers.


The same truck drivers whose work makes it possible for stores to keep their shelves stocked for last-minute holiday shoppers. The same truck drivers who will be driving throughout the week to ensure that our grocery stores have food and our gas stations have fuel. And the same truck drivers who are on our roads delivering the goods 365 days a year, rain or shine.


We know that well-rested, safety-focused drivers make our roads safer.

To the conscientious commercial drivers and carriers who stay safe and keep their vehicles well-maintained, we thank you. We are proud to call you partners in safety and urge you to continue setting a strong example for your industry. 


Sharing a truck driver’s perspective helps young drivers learn to make smarter decisions when they're behind the wheel of their own vehicles.  As FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro said, "They can see just how extensive those blind spots really are, and generally, it’s a sobering message for teens who participate in these events."


Commercial drivers and the inspectors who help keep their vehicles properly maintained play a critical role in keeping our roadways safe. And last week, the best inspectors and drivers from across the country gathered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to show off their skills and engage in a little friendly competition.


But at the end of the day, Don Logan, a FedEx Freight driver from Topeka, Kansas, was named the 2012 Grand Champion. And with 25 years of professional driving experience and over 2.1 million miles traveled, it's no wonder he was up to the challenge.


As Administrator Ferro said, "It is powerful to have the trucking industry behind us, enhancing our campaign against distracted driving, because as traveling billboards, those trucks are so visible to other drivers across the country."

So, we're arming commercial drivers with good information so they can make better safety decisions.

And I also want to thank the professional drivers who are out there on the road doing a good job day in and day out. You set a terrific example, and I urge you to continue setting that example for your colleagues.


Now, driving more than a million miles accident-free is quite an accomplishment, and I think any driver in that category should be celebrated. This squad of 18 Captains takes that achievement even further, boasting a combined 483 years behind the wheel and over 36.5 million accident-free miles.


Trucking is a strong industry.  It’s a leading indicator of our nation’s economic health, hauling 70 percent of the tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation.


The San Marcos, Texas, facility has ample space to keep a Commercial Motor Vehicle on-site for use in training.  This recent addition to inspector training proved integral to the program because equipment was available for individual review or after-hours study.  The location also made it possible for the nearby Wal-Mart Distribution Center in New Braunfels to provide trucks and drivers who gave students the driver's perspective on the use of commercial motor vehicle safety equipment.


We have seen a 24 percent reduction in truck-related fatalities during the past 4 years, which is great progress that can be attributed to FMCSA, its safety partners, and the unsung heroes of the road--the nation's commercial motor vehicle drivers.


As Administrator Ferro said, "We know that a rule cannot ensure that truck drivers will be rested, but it can give drivers enough time off to obtain adequate rest on a daily and weekly basis."


I appreciate Administrator's Ferro candor in taking this analysis one step further by adding, "I strongly encourage you to make sure you use this time wisely."


Those two days also gave me a better understanding of the challenges a driver faces when trying to take care of personal needs, food, stretching and exercising. Time is short for exercise and too often healthy food choices aren’t readily available.

What you don't see when you pass a tractor-trailer on the highway is that truck driving is hard work. More than once, I watched as Leo navigated us through unsafe conditions created by passenger vehicles driving aggressively and unpredictably near his rig. Thanks to Leo's skill and patience, other drivers never even seemed aware of the potential danger they had instigated.

I want to thank Leo Wilkins for this eye-opening opportunity. These two days gave me a first-hand look at how we need to build safety into the entire trip, from shipper to receiver and everywhere in between.


Sometimes, a crash is the fault of the commercial vehicle driver, and sometimes it’s the driver of the car.  But it’s almost always preventable,”


“This month, July, is one of the months with the highest traffic fatalities because of the increased number of people traveling.  That’s why we ask drivers and passengers of all vehicles to be safety conscious and responsible.”


About Ellen Voie and Women in Trucking:

It's not an easy industry. The lingering legacy of roughness and days and weeks away from home can make it seem formidable. But the women who do choose to drive commercial vehicles have been true champions for those who follow them--advocating for protection from harassment, pressing for safer parking and safer truck stops, and breaking new ground with every mile they drive.

We have seen that when carriers and drivers take responsibility for their safety performance, crashes are prevented, and safety on our roads improves.


On the 40th anniversary of OOIDA:

I want to congratulate the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association on 40 years of effective advocacy for road safety, fair treatment of America's truck drivers, and an efficient transportation network. OOIDA has come a long way since its beginnings at a truck stop on I-70. And today, the group is an important partner to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration--particularly on safety issues.


The safety culture that OOIDA has developed among its members has been tremendously important--for commercial drivers, their families, and everyone on our roadways….


…At the FMCSA, we spend each and every day working to keep America's roads and drivers safe. We couldn't do that without the support of partners like OOIDA and drivers like this year's honorees.


Congratulations--and thanks--to OOIDA, its leaders, and the conscientious drivers who keep the safety bar set high.