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Likely FMCSA boss Martinez stands behind ELD mandate, hopes to shore up CSA

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Raymond P. Martinez, President Trump’s pick to run the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration during his presidency, told a panel of Senators on Tuesday that he does not have plans to delay the agency’s Dec. 18 deadline for compliance with the electronic logging device mandate should he be confirmed to run the agency.

However, Martinez did say he intends to examine how the rule could affect small business truckers, if confirmed. “I have heard this rule could cause serious hardship to some small independent truckers, particularly those in the agriculture sector,” he said. “I want to meet with those involved who oppose the rule to learn more about those concerns.”

Martinez testified Tuesday in front of the Senate’s Commerce Committee as part of his confirmation process. He joined three other nominees picked by Trump to run DOT agencies. The Senate must confirm Martinez via a simple majority for him to take the reins of Washington’s trucking regulatory body. Trump tapped Martinez in September to head FMCSA. Martinez has served as head of New Jersey’s Motor Vehicle Commission under Gov. Chris Christie since 2010, having served in other motor vehicle-related roles most of his career.

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He was asked only a handful of questions, two of which pertained to the ELD mandate. “Our goal is not to cripple commerce, but to make our roadways safer,” Martinez said in response to a question from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). Cruz asked Martinez that, given the estimated $2 billion price tag associated with industry-wide compliance with the mandate, whether he’d consider delaying the Dec. 18 deadline.

Martinez said he believes “regulatory reform should be an ongoing process,” but that “it’s my understanding with regards to ELDs that they are legally required” ahead of the December deadline.

“In the past, it was paper-based,” he said in response to another question from Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), “which means [logs were] very susceptible to fraudulent entries and altered entries.”

Martinez also said he intends to make the agency more data driven, particularly when it comes to targeting high-risk carriers within the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program. CSA’s BASIC ratings were pulled from public view by Congress in 2015, and the National Academies of Science this year issued a report to Congress and FMCSA with recommendations on how the agency can reform the program to make it more equitable to carriers and accurate in its assessment of safety risk.

Martinez told Senators he intends to review the report and “make appropriate changes [and] evaluate how best we can move forward” with the program.

“We need to be using sound science,” he said. “The key thing is whether the data we use to compile these assessments are accurate, reliable and fair. If the data is unreliable, we lose credibility with stakeholders and the entities we regulate. And we do a disservice to the public,” he said.

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James Jaillet is the News Editor for CCJ and Overdrive. Reach him at jjaillet@randallreilly.com.