Trucker Makes “Jaw-Dropping” Admission to FMCSA Leaders
Washington D.C. – He did not plan to say it, but after a safety advocate urged regulators to tighten restrictions on truckers even more, fifteen-year trucking veteran and founder of the United States Transportation Alliance (USTA), Mike Landis, felt he had to respond.
Landis did so by making a “jaw-dropping” admission to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) officials at Tuesday’s public listening session regarding the Agency’s proposed changes to hours of service (HOS) regulations.
Click HERE to read the full recap of the listening session.
After more than a dozen commenters over nearly a 2-hour period had weighed in at yesterday’s HOS public listening session, things were beginning to wind down.
Then, Peter Kurdock, General Counsel for Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (AHAS), took to the microphone.
Kurdock gave a blistering rebuke of the FMCSA officials for offering proposed changes he said represents a “misguided focus on eroding the hours of service regulations even further.”
“AHAS is staunchly opposed to the dangerous proposals outlined in the NPRM and then framing them under the guise of ‘flexibility,'” he said.
Pointing to the recent rise in heavy truck-related crash fatalities, Kurdock implored the FMCSA leaders to reverse course.
“Fatigue and sleep deprivation are at least responsible for 13 percent of heavy truck crashes. These grim figures call for prompt government action to reduce driver fatigue.”
Kurdock continued and expressed why he believes the FMCSA is putting these new proposals forward.
“Let’s be clear, this latest effort to weaken the hours of service rules is in direct response to the electronic logging device (ELD) rule that took effect in December of 2017,” Kurdock said.
He called ELDs “one of the most effective tools to reduce driver fatigue.”
Kurdock’s comments didn’t sit well with Landis.
In an exclusive interview, Landis told Transportation Nation Network (TNN), “When I sit there and there is someone who has never spent one day driving a truck telling me, and others like me, what is and what isn’t, and they are spewing numbers, and I know he’s saying that because it sounds good to the untrained person, it pisses me off.”
Landis, who has almost 2 million safe driving miles under his belt, was compelled to respond, and respond he did.
A few moments later he made his way to the microphone for the second time during the listening session.
This time, he didn’t hold back.
“I’m just gonna tell ya. Fifteen years I’ve been driving a truck. Not once in fifteen years have I probably followed your rules. I do what I want, when I want, and how I want. Now that you can pick your jaws up off the floor… you can call it cheating, creative editing, I don’t care. I call it responsibility,” Landis told the panel.
As he spoke those words he says he could feel the “air being sucked out of the room.”
Referring to the FMCSA officials and those in attendance, he said, “You could see some of their faces were shocked.”
Still, the mood of those in the room did not dissuade Landis from continuing on.
“I know when I need to sleep. I know when I’m okay to drive. What I have heard is that crashes, no matter how we have tried to make things better by being stricter with hours of service or ELDs, and making sure every one is following all the rules perfectly, is that crashes have gone up,” Landis continued.
Landis said he believed he knew why “road safety” has worsened.
“What has happened is we have taken the responsibility away from the driver that’s driving the truck or bus to have the ability to pull over and do what they feel is good for them… without it affecting their work week. The more we take that away from a driver, the more we are seeing safety go down,” he explained.
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Landis told TNN he concluded his comments by directly aiming them at Kurdock.
“I feel like anyone who thinks it’s a bad idea to give us some flexibility and some choice about what we do out here on the road, should probably mind their own business if they’ve never sat behind the wheel of a truck,” Landis added.
While Landis admits he is aware that safety advocates and those pushing a pro-regulatory agenda will use his comments as proof the “outlaw trucker” mentality is still prevalent in today’s trucking environment, he stands firm in his decision to speak the truth about his experiences.
“We are never going to get anywhere if people don’t understand where we are coming from. My theory is you may not like what you are about to hear, but it is real data,” he said to TNN.
His motivation for continuing to speak up is “personal,” he said.
“For me, this is how I live my life and support my family.”
WATCH Landis’ full comments HERE at the 2:05:50 mark.
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WATCH the full 2-hour listening session HERE.
READ our full recap HERE.