Saturday, March 29, 2014

Testing, testing ...

It's Friday morning, and the show is in full swing. Attendees are strolling along, filling their tote bags with MATS goodies. In a South Wing conference room just off the main corridor, a few truckers have stopped to sign up on clipboards - not for a chance to win a fancy prize, but for the opportunity to speak directly with the people who develop the rules they must live by on the highways.

FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro with
OOIDA Life Member Michael Potwin
and Rachel Martin
Photo by David Tanner, Land Line Magazine
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has hosted a public listening session at MATS each of the past few years. And although this year's session was about "New Entrant Knowledge Testing" - not the most exciting subject - the panelists, including FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro, heard a wide variety of topics on truckers' minds.

A few truckers used their time at the mic to speak about driver training and the role of technology -- for better or for worse -- in vehicle safety and industry compliance.

Truckers like Michael Potwin of Ridgewater, Mass., used his podium time to talk about big-picture issues such as the shortage of safe truck parking; the effects of CSA and enforcement on the small-business operator; and how technology such as electronic logs, adaptive cruise control and speed limiters are no substitute for a trained and experienced driver behind the wheel.

"Safety is a wonderful thing but (technology) is something that a lot of people hide behind," Potwin said.

During a midday break between morning and afternoon sessions, Potwin and companion Rachel Martin said they were glad for a chance to interact directly with Anne Ferro, the top federal regulator for their industry. Ferro in turn said she was glad to meet with truckers and hear directly about issues that affect them.

"I wish there were more truckers here for this opportunity," Potwin said.

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