October 27, 2017 1:30 PM, EDT

Safety of Truckers Must Be Priority for FMCSA Nominee, Sen. Cory Booker Says

Sen. Cory Booker MSNBC via YouTube

The top Democrat on the Senate subcommittee dealing with trucking affairs wants the nominee to lead the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to share his commitment to ensuring the safety of truck drivers on the country’s highways.

“Addressing the dangers of fatigue among commercial truck drivers, including fighting for improvements to the hours-of-service rules and expanding testing for sleep apnea, has long been a priority of mine,” New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker told Transport Topics in a statement Oct. 26.

Ray Martinez, President Donald Trump’s choice to lead the agency, also must be committed to reducing the “unacceptable rate of fatalities on our roads,” Booker added.

“I look forward to continuing to learn more about Mr. Martinez’s vision for improving transportation safety and quality of life for commercial truck and bus operators throughout the nomination process,” said the senator, who leads the Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security Subcommittee with Chairwoman Deb Fischer (R-Neb.).

Martinez is a New Jerseyan, like Booker, and he oversees the state’s Motor Vehicle Commission.

Responding to questions from the committee, the nominee said, if confirmed, he would become involved in the integration of self-driving technologies, and expand partnerships with stakeholders, such as trucking associations.

“FMCSA must ensure appropriate, balanced regulation and seamless integration of any new and developing technologies into the existing highway safety landscape without hindering innovation,” Martinez said.

The Commerce Committee has scheduled a hearing with Martinez on Oct. 31.

FMCSA recently updated its hours-of-service rules, and in August the agency and the Federal Railroad Administration withdrew a joint proposal that sought comments on the possible adoption of standards to diagnose and treat sleep apnea among truckers and rail operators.