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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden’s nominee to oversee the nation’s trucking regulations pointed to the administration’s efforts to boost the industry’s workforce during her confirmation hearing June 8.
Robin Hutcheson, nominated for the top role at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, said the recently enacted $1 trillion infrastructure law paved the way for opportunities to bolster a workforce that was deemed essential during the pandemic. She appeared before the Senate Commerce Committee, a panel with jurisdiction over trucking rules and regulations.
“The work of FMCSA and the industry is supported by the historic passage of the bipartisan infrastructure law,” Hutcheson told senators.
I have and will continue to engage in discussion, ride-alongs and other forums to deepen my understanding of the needs of drivers, and all of our critical stakeholders.
Robin Hutcheson, nominee to be administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
“The bipartisan infrastructure law also dedicates resources to assisting the truck driving profession by creating a better, safer pipeline of drivers and improving recruitment and retention in the profession,” she added. “I have and will continue to engage in discussion, ride-alongs and other forums to deepen my understanding of the needs of drivers, and all of our critical stakeholders.” Administration officials at times refer to the $1 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act as the bipartisan infrastructure law.
The nominee assured the committee her team is focused on the implementation of trucking workforce provisions included in the law, among them an apprenticeship to allow commercial drivers under 21 to operate trucks via interstate, and an advisory board dedicated to recruitment and retention efforts targeting women.
I believe her executive experience heading the public sector transportation agencies will provide critical leadership.
Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.)
Committee Chairwoman Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) touted the nominee’s background on transportation safety. She cited the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recent estimate of a 10.5% increase in motor vehicle crash fatalities from 2020.
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“Strong federal leadership is needed as the nation faces a tragic rise in the highway fatalities, including a dramatic increase in fatal crashes involving large trucks,” Cantwell said. “I believe her executive experience heading the public sector transportation agencies will provide critical leadership and the skills needed to address these issues.” The senator told Transport Topics she expects to schedule a committee vote on the nominee this summer.
Hutcheson is acting administrator at FMCSA. Previously, she was deputy assistant secretary for safety policy at the U.S. Department of Transportation. Her background includes stints at agencies in Minneapolis and Salt Lake City. She also was on the board of directors for the National Association of City Transportation Officials.
American Trucking Associations recently determined the industry is short about 80,000 commercial drivers.
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