America's top trucking safety administrator has resigned from her post after five years, but it's unlikely many truckers will be shedding tears.
In 2009 President Obama appointed Anne Ferro to lead the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which regulates the trucking industry in the United States. In a recent statement released to FCMSA workers, the departing Ferro said her next position will be in the private sector.
"In keeping with my pledge to be open and transparent with you about the things that affect your workplace, I'm writing to personally let you know that I will be leaving the agency towards the end of August to take on a new role as President and CEO of the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators," Ferro wrote.
Ferro served as the FCMSA’s chief administrator for five years, but it's unlikely truckers – who clashed with Ferro over a rule that forces truck drivers to wait at least 34 hours before beginning a new 70 hour week – will be too upset with her resignation. The rule includes mandatory rest time in the early hours of the AM, which is unpopular with many drivers who argue that it results in trucks being on the road during the daytime when traffic is often very heavy. Truckers also expressed concern that the 34-hour window forced many drivers to take two days off between jobs.
But Ferro wouldn't budge on the rule, instead siding with various safety groups, which claim that the law reduced driver fatigue and made roads safer. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), which represents truckers, had proposed drastic changes to the 34-hour reset rule and Ferro's inflexibility on the issue ultimately led them to call for Ferro's resignation.
In a recent letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, OOIDA President Jim Johnston was highly critical of Ferro’s approach to the 34-hour reset rule debate. “Recent comments by Administrator Anne Ferro, combined with actions by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), have made it clear to most truckers on the road and OOIDA’s Board of Directors that they can no longer be assured of respect from and fair treatment by the Administrator and the agency she leads,” Johnston said.
Ferro didn't specifically mention the OOIDA stare-down in her resignation, but did note that her agency had worked hard to ensure the safety of all drivers. “We have worked to ensure that companies and drivers are more accountable for their actions, strengthened our oversight of high-risk carriers, created better tools for our law enforcement partners, and opened up a new world of useful data to educate both businesses and consumers alike,” Ferro said.
Ferro also received praise from U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, who noted that “under Anne's leadership, FMCSA has ushered in a new culture of safety into the commercial bus and trucking industries.”
But industry blogger Eric Arnold isn't buying it. He criticized Ferro for being responsible for a "blizzard of new regulations" and pointed to an increase in truck crash fatalities under Ferro's watch. "Ferro is just tired of the high stress job, and is taking an easier job with less demands, and possibly more pay," Arnold said. "She has not reduced crashes, but ... her bosses don’t give a damn about that."