It seemed like a victory for safety advocates when the Obama Administration agreed to review the rule that increased the hours truck drivers could be on the road while reducing their rest time.
Critics have contended since 2003 that this Bush Administration regulation increasing driver hours was bad policy that would lead to more accidents and fatalities.
However, when the Senate unanimously confirmed Anne S. Ferro as Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator last week, the Administration put a former trucking association executive and lobbyist as the head of truck safety at the Department of Transportation.
It appears that Ferro’s selection goes against President Obama’s decision to limit the ability of lobbyists to enter government as high officials and influence policy from within.
Ferro was president of the Maryland Motor Truck Association during the six years before her appointment. Moreover, the association supported the increase in driver hours.
During Ferro’s Senate confirmation hearing, which featured the usual tough posturing but ultimately agreed to her appointment, she said she would be a “fair and balanced regulator” and use a “data-driven, sound scientific research” to decrease truck and bus crashes.
Ferro now leads FMCSA just as a court order requires it to review its rulemaking on truck driver hours of service – the most controversial issue facing the agency since it pits the profits of big trucking firms against your well-being on the nation’s roads.
There are more than 5,000 fatal truck accidents every year or about 15 people die each day, every day.