A New (Acting) Head of the FMCSA and Parking

Some motor carrier Highlights posts are quite technical. Not this one.  This is a practical update about trucking: a change in acting leadership at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and a discussion about parking.

FMCSA Leadership Change

Head of the FMCSA Meera Joshi left the administration in January to take a role as New York City deputy mayor for operations in the Adams administration.  Joshi had been confirmed as deputy administrator and nominated to be the administrator of the agency, but left before she could be confirmed by the Senate to that position.  She had previously held several positions in New York City, including head of the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission.

Robin Hutcheson has been named as Joshi’s replacement as deputy administrator and acting administrator.  Hutcheson previously served as the Department of Transportation deputy assistant secretary for safety policy. She was formerly the director of public works for the City of Minneapolis and before that transportation director for Salt Lake City.  The FMCSA has not had a confirmed Administrator since October of 2019. 

Parking

Amid supply-chain difficulty, some of the challenges facing the trucking industry are not technical but practical: truckers don’t have enough places to park.  There is only one space for every 11 drivers. This is not a new issue, but it received renewed attention recently when the American Trucking Associations, and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association wrote a letter to Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg on February 18, asking for relief. 

Parking is a concern for a few reasons.  First of all, 98% of truckers report regularly experiencing difficulty finding a parking space (up from 75% four years prior), taking more than 56 minutes a day to find it.  This eats up hours of service time.  Seventy percent of drivers say they have violated hours of service regulations while looking for parking.  It also creates a more acute safety risk.  When drivers cannot find parking they often pull over on the shoulder of a road, an exit ramp, or look for an abandoned property for parking.  For drivers that sleep in their cab, these makeshift spots can be dangerous. 

Secretary Buttigieg was questioned about the topic in a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on March 2. He identified a series of potential sources for funding additional parking, including the Surface Transportation Block Grant Program, National Highway Freight Program, the Highway Safety Improvement Program, the National Highway Performance Program, the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program, and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

NATSO, an association representing the truck stop and travel plaza industry, emphasized that the private sector provides 90% of the nation’s commercial truck parking, and renewed its long-standing advocacy for the federal and state departments of transportation to remove barriers to private sector investment in truck parking capacity.

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