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Meera Joshi on track to lead FMCSA

FMCSA Deputy Administrator Meera Joshi indicated her strong support for safety technologies during her nomination hearing to take over agency, noting that safety is the common goal of both the industry and the agency. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves & FMCSA)

During her nomination hearing to be the next administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), current Deputy Administrator Meera Joshi was able to provide insight into her stance on several relevant industry issues. These include driver wait times, 18-20-year-old intrastate drivers, and autonomous technologies being implemented in the industry. Hours-of-service flexibility, which is of critical importance to the industry, was addressed in the hearing as well.

Deputy Administrator Joshi acknowledged this unprecedented time in the industry by stating, “We added to the most recent extension of the hours-of-service exceptions. In gathering that information, that should help us formulate whether there are longer-term, more narrowly tailored solutions that we can put in place given the freight constraints that our nation is currently facing.”

When questioned about whether she supports a provision that would allow 18-20-year-old drivers to cross state lines, Joshi said “This is a topic that has come up often in regard to driver recruitment and retention, and an increase in driver capacity.”

Joshi went on to explain that under certain provisions, there needs to be a safeguard in the legislation regarding safety concerns leading to termination.

Artificial intelligence (AI) technology was brought up during the latter half of the hearing with references to safety and efficiency. When asked how she planned to oversee the evolution of AI from her perspective position at FMCSA, Joshi said “Our challenge will be to ensure that our regulations to uphold roadway safety translate into an AI world.”

Joshi went on to explain that she hopes to make room for innovation but will always put safety first.

At TCA’s Annual Convention, Truckload 2021: Las Vegas, Deputy Administrator Joshi spoke to attendees through a recorded message. In her address, she highlighted the Department of Transportation’s support for trucking and that its leadership’s goal to put forward initiatives to help solve the challenges the industry currently faces. She indicated her strong support for safety technologies, such as automatic emergency braking, to be required on commercial motor vehicles and noted that safety is the common goal of both the industry and the agency. She also stressed that she will continue the conversation with truckload carriers about our industry’s needs and concerns.

The TCA is wishing Deputy Administrator Joshi a speedy appointment process to her perspective role as FMSCA’s administrator. Deputy Administrator Joshi is a valued partner of the truckload segment of the trucking industry and will successfully fill the vacuum left in the wake of the change in administration. The TCA looks forward to her eventual confirmation by the Senate.