Anne Ferro, the long-standing controversial FMCSA administrator, resigned from her post last week. Beginning her term in October 2009, Ferro has moved on to the role of CEO and president of the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administration in August 2014.
During Ferro’s time at the FMCSA she mainly focused on safety management. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported over 45,000 fatal crashes in 2012. NHTSA report also states almost 700 people were killed in 2012 due to an incident with a large truck. Ferro was determined to reduce the number fatalities and save lives during her time as FMCSA administrator. Anthony Foxx, Transportation Secretary shared with DOT staff how Ferro made companies accountable for the public’s well-being in addition to enforcing a “culture of safety” into the industry.
Relationship with the Industry
Ferro’s relationship with different groups within the industry varied in support which led to a strong push for her immediate resignation.
Ferro’s blog articles on the official FMCSA website in combination with other statements had left many drivers feeling frustrated. In June of 2014 Owner-Operated Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) called for Ferro’s resignation in a three-page letter citing a “bias against drivers.” Jim Johnston, OOIDA President, signed the letter which stated, "…Administrator herself, view truckers not as committed professionals but as accidents waiting to happen...” and continued with “Ferro goes on to make a clear attempt to influence potential Congressional action…Her posting uses snippets of isolated accidents—tragedies yes, but situations that need far more explanation and context to understand than a few simple lines on a website…" The OOIDA strongly believed that Ferro was no longer in a position to “perform her duties impartially.”
In June a diverse group of drivers wrote an open letter to the DOT and OOIDA and refuted the push for Ferro’s resignation and cited Ferro’s efforts to connect and listen to the drivers within the industry. The group proceeded to say, “Administrator Ferro, in our opinion, ‘gets it.’ She understands, and we strongly agree, that there is a correlation between compliance and safety.” They continued to compliment her ability to connect with “blue-collar people in the industry” and believed she “fostered a unique safety culture in our industry.”
Culture of Safety
During Ferro’s time as administrator she focused on making safety through compliance a priority within the trucking industry. With an emphasis on public safety, Ferro worked closer with the trucking industry than any previous administrator to better understand and formulate regulations. In a message to employees Ferro said, “It has been my greatest privilege to serve side-by-side with you to advance FMCSA's life saving mission,” and continued to speak about the difference they have made for many families throughout the country by focusing their efforts on safety.
Johnston, also congratulated Ferro on her new position and lauded her for, “…having unprecedented personal outreach and engagement with truckers in all the years that we have worked with the agency.”
Future FMCSA Administrator
As the position remains open, Ferro’s replacement will be announced by the White House in the upcoming weeks. There currently isn’t a clear indication as to who will fill the role of FMCSA administrator. One thing for certain is they will most likely face many senators who oppose the new HOS regulations.
The new FMCSA administrator will need to find a way to balance and regulate fleet operators while maintaining a certain level of safety for all drivers on the road.