The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is closer to having a new administrator, as the U.S. Senate Committee in Commerce, Science and Transportation, in a vote on November 8 that was little more than a formality, confirmed Raymond Martinez, President Donald Trump’s pick to head the agency.
His nomination will now be voted on by the full Senate.
If there was any drama at all about the vote, it was whether Martinez would get a unanimous thumbs-up. Martinez sailed through on a simple voice vote. From the time Trump announced in late September that Martinez was his choice to head the FMCSA, his nomination has received wide support from people throughout the industry.
Martinez, a graduate of St. John's University School of Law, has been chairman and chief administrator of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission since 2010. He has also served in New York as commissioner of motor vehicles and as chairman of the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee as well as deputy chief of staff and special counsel to the New York State attorney general.
On October 31, Martinez appeared at a nomination hearing before the Senate Committee in Commerce, Science and Transportation. In his opening remarks at that hearing, Martinez stressed that throughout his career he has made it a point to forge relationships with thought leaders, stakeholders and research institutions to get a wide variety of data and insights when dealing with complicated topics.
“I have found this open dialogue and cross-pollination of ideas was essential to problem-solving,” Martinez said. “If confirmed as FMCSA administrator, I would continue to pursue data-driven policies.”
During the hearing, and in written questions submitted by the panel after the hearing, Martinez was asked to speak on several the top issues currently facing the FMCSA.
On ELDs, Martinez said while is committed to upholding the upcoming Dec. 18 implementation mandate, he is aware that some in the industry, particularly owner-operators and small fleets, are citing the cost of implementation as placing a hardship on their businesses. He would want to hear those people out, he said. After all, “the goal is not to cripple commerce. The goal is to make our roadways safer.”
Martinez reiterated the point several times that if confirmed, he would keep an open-door policy when it comes both to people and data, to look at information “through the lens of safety.”
Martinez also said that he is in favor of improving the rating system for carriers and identifying high-risk carriers, again emphasizing the importance of collecting and utilizing data to determine whether regulations are truly working.
“It’s critical for the efficient use of our resources to use good data and to use good models and approaches,” he said. With something like CSA scores, it is essential the data collected is accurate, reliable and fair.
“If the data is unreliable, we lose credibility with our stakeholders, we lose credibility with the entities that we regulate, and we do a disservice to the public,” he said.
Martinez also stated he wants to look into ways to streamline the process of CDL testing so it didn’t take so long, and continue developing programs to assist veterans who want to become licensed drivers and to permit certain qualified individuals 18-21 to drive interstate.