Safety First: FMCSA’s Raymond P. Martinez Looks to Champion Safety for Drivers and the Public

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Release date: 5/8/2019

Safety First: FMCSA’s Raymond P. Martinez Looks to Champion Safety for Drivers and the Public
Donald Dunphy


"EVERYONE WANTS TO GET home safely at the end of the day," said Raymond P. Martinez, Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). "And it’s my job to help make sure that happens by regulating and monitoring motor carriers and enforcing rules related to their operation."

"It is also my job to make sure that the few who have not fully [rallied] to this cause are educated and guided to safer practices or that further measures are taken to mitigate their impacts," he added.

Martinez is quick to point out that the agency, which is a separate administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation, would prefer to intervene before the worst happens. "Nothing would make me happier than to not have to issue violations, [and] that we would not have to penalize noncompliance. FMCSA prefers to work with our stakeholders, communicating the risks of noncompliance and reaching them before they get in trouble.

"Compliance, in large part, equals safety."

The Administrator

Raymond Martinez previously served eight years as the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission’s chairman and chief administrator (2010-2018), where he oversaw the agency’s 2,500 employees and a $330 million annual operating budget with more than $1 billion in annual revenue.

Prior to this, Martinez was commissioner of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (2000-2005) and served at the U.S. Department of State. He is the sixth administrator of FMCSA and was sworn into office by U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao on February 28, 2018.

Martinez prioritized outreach as FMCSA’s main motivator, saying, "Our means is not to hit [noncompliant carriers] so hard with the penalties stick that they go out of business." The agency regulates the trucking industry in the United States; its primary mission being the reduction of crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving large trucks and buses.

"Our goal, as it pertains to safety, is always getting to zero. FMCSA is a part of the National Safety Council’s Road to Zero Coalition."

Likewise, NAFA Fleet Management Association is a partner in FMCSA’s "Our Roads, Our Safety" effort ( The initiative seeks to enlighten passenger vehicle and small- and medium-duty truck drivers to the unique challenges and potential dangers in sharing roads with buses and large trucks. "We reach out to entities that are not in these two segments to share information with their stakeholders. We thank NAFA so much for joining with us and other industry groups, safety advocates, and like-minded organizations in this effort."

Changing minds and attitudes is not an easy task. So many drivers haven’t a clear idea of what it takes to drive a large vehicle and, more importantly, what it takes to stop one. "You have vehicles that carry both mass and speed, and when a passenger vehicle cuts in front of a commercial vehicle, or it stops inappropriately, it’s no longer an argument about the truck driver wanting to stop. It’s that they can’t." Trucks that can weigh more than 40 tons traveling 65 mph will take up to two football fields (approximately 720 feet) to stop. Factor in a commercial vehicle’s need to make wide turns and deal with large blind spots, and the need for greater understanding is clear.

Modern Commerce and Expectations

The number of commercial vehicles on roadways and their vehicle-miles-traveled are in direct relation to the health of the economy. "As the economy gets stronger and grows, the number of delivery vehicles will rise," Martinez said. "Much of this is due to the rise of e-commerce, but also when individuals have more money at their disposal, they will spend it. This leads to an increase in buses on the roadways as well, particularly in coastal and urban areas."

With more and larger vehicles occupying the roads, said Martinez, so too would there be a rise in crashes, injuries, and fatalities. "The ‘right now’ economy has created a mindset where consumers who buy something online in the morning expect it delivered that same afternoon. Until you have drones delivering parcels, trucks will be the dominant component in the process.

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