Thursday, May 5, 2016

Is the FMCSA really listening?

In my conversations with truck drivers, it is not uncommon for me to hear them say that they feel as if the people in government aren’t listening to their complaints. The voice of a trucker often falls on deaf ears, they say.

As a way to prove to truck drivers that isn’t true, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration created listening sessions so that they could hear the views of the public before approving a regulation. It’s supposed to be the FMCSA’s way of telling the truckers that they really are listening.

But the FMCSA has failed to make its gesture seem sincere.

The FMCSA and Federal Railroad Administration have planned three listening sessions about a potential sleep apnea testing mandate before the comment period closes on June 8. The sessions are scheduled for May 12 in Washington, D.C., May 17 in Chicago, and May 25 in Los Angeles.

But here’s where the FMCSA misses its mark. All of the designated meeting places are in downtown locations and do not have truck parking on-site. According to information provided by Truckers for a Cause, cab fare from the nearest truck stop to downtown Chicago would be $60 each way. Other options at the various locations are to find a place that will allow a truck to park for a fee and then use a train, bus, cab or Uber to get the rest of the way.

Of course, this isn’t an impossible task, and I’m sure there will be plenty of truckers who choose to set aside their day and plop down some money in order to have their voices heard on this controversial issue.

However, it still makes one wonder why the FMCSA doesn’t do a better job of making these listening sessions more accessible to truck drivers. I mean, no groups of people would be more affected by a sleep apnea testing mandate than truck drivers and railroad workers.

If you’re going to have a listening session about a regulation that will directly affect truck drivers and railroad workers, then those are the people you have to hear from. How’s it going to affect them? What good would result from this regulation? What would be the negative consequences?

The FMCSA and FRA need to hear what they have to say. There is no justification for creating an unnecessary obstacle that could prevent many from attending.

What’s worse is that this isn’t the first time this issue has been raised. Time after time, public listening sessions about regulations that will directly affect truck drivers are planned at locations nowhere near adequate truck parking.

What needs to happen in order to have this rectified?

Maybe we need a listening session about these listening sessions? All we ask is that you let the truck drivers choose the time and the place.