WASHINGTON — Fresh off his effort to petition the White House to suspend the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate, Small Business in Transportation Coalition Executive Director James Lamb has turned his attention to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, initiating a petition drive to defund the agency that regulates the commercial motor vehicle industry.
In a letter to Congressional leaders lambasted the agency, Lamb claimed it was knowingly and recklessly delaying essential motor carrier safety enforcement funds to states for three years in a row in violation of federal law.
State supported commercial vehicle law enforcement agencies are funded in part by federal funds allocated by the FMCSA.
In the letter, Lamb wrote the FMCSA was failing to “faithfully execute its mandate, dereliction of duty, negligent and reckless disregard for public safety, failure to abide by Congressional directives, failure to reduce large truck fatalities, general incompetence, repeated violations of federal law and political corruption.
“We cannot fathom how or why the FMCSA would think it is OK to knowingly deprive the states of safety funds critical to achieving motor carrier safety,” Lamb said in the letter. “We note the FMCSA has known — or should have known — since 2007 that such prolonged delays have a devasting (sic) impact on the ability of states to improve motor carrier safety. It appears these bureaucrats simply do not care.”
Lamb also suggested the agency has failed in its mission to improve motor carrier safety at the federal level, citing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report that said despite a general increase in highway fatalities, large truck fatalities increased.
NHTSA defines a large truck as a truck with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more.
“This is on top of an increase of at least 4.9% in large truck fatalities in 2017, the year the ELD mandate went into effect,” Lamb wrote. “We note that the Department of Transportation reported that truck fatalities for 2017 had increased 9% and that the department has now removed from this statistic some pick-up trucks from the large truck category, which, when combined with a trailer, still constitute commercial motor vehicles over 10,000 pounds calling into question whether they are trying to skew the results to achieve a lower increase in fatality percentage. In any event, this is now a 30-year high. Large truck occupants have not died at this rate since 1988. This is abysmal and the Secretary should not be applauding this failure.”
“The petition we ran during the holidays to defund the agency received 1,700 signatures,” Lamb told The Trucker. “We also ran a straw poll thereafter that shows over 90% of respondents agree with the SBTC’s campaign to defund. We are engaging Congressional staffers. Our lobbyist advises he is seeing signs of support among fiscal conservatives.”
A spokesman for the FMCSA said the agency would have no comment on Lamb’s initiative.
Late last year Lamb spent several weeks gathering signatures for his ELD suspension campaign.
He said he hoped to get 100,000 signatures on a petition he was planning to send to President Donald J. Trump. In late November, Lamb said he had gathered 32,000 signatures.
“We continue to discuss suspending ELDs with Congressional staffers,” Lamb said. “We have run into some political opposition getting the bill sponsored in the Senate. We are waiting to assess the impact of the transition to ELDs to determine if we can state we were correct about disruptions and effects on capacity. That may not come until the end of the first quarter.
Lamb noted the impeachment debate took over center stage over the past 30 days and now there is the situation in Iran.
“As trucking media cover the story of our reasons for calling for the defunding the agency, we believe we will build more momentum,” he said. “Failure to facilitate 2020 motor carrier safety funds to the states in accordance with the 90-day UCR rulemaking statute for three years straight along with failure to improve safety generally are the central reasons for defunding and moving toward an independent regulatory commission.”
The SBTC website says the organization has 15,000 members.
Lyndon Finney’s publishing career spans over 55 years beginning with a reporter position with the Southwest Times Record in Fort Smith, Arkansas, in 1965. Since then he’s been a newspaper editor at the Southwest Times Record, served five years as assistant managing editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock and from November 2004 through December 2019 served as editor of The Trucker. Between newspaper jobs he spent 14 years as director of communications at Baptist Health, Arkansas’ largest healthcare system. In addition to his publishing career he served for 46 years as organist at Little Rock’s largest Baptist church.