“We need an agency that is not a pocket dog but a watchdog,” said Markey.
Between 2009 and last year, the number of people killed in major truck crashes increased 45% to around 5,000 deaths, said Markey, a Democrat. He appeared virtually at the nomination hearing of Meera Joshi, Biden’s choice to head the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Last year, Markey wrote a letter to the FMCSA, asking the agency to explain why it refused to step up scrutiny of the news. trucking companies and improve the commercial driver background check system. On Wednesday, Markey said the response he received from the Trump administration was “woefully inadequate” and “failed to commit to the major reforms we need.”
Joshi said the issues raised in the Globe series are “incredibly important”. The Globe opened the investigation in 2019 after seven motorcyclists died in New Hampshire in a collision with a West Springfield, Mass., Trucker who was able to stay on the road despite a disturbing driving history due to of bureaucratic failures from the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles.
Joshi said the federal agency was enacting rules that would require states to electronically share notices of driving convictions for business license holders, instead of sending paper notices, and require states to take measures against drivers who fail a drug or alcohol test.
She said the FMCSA also plans to expand the scope of its troubled business investigations and strengthen its program to oversee new trucking and bus companies.
“When they come into the industry recently, we need to watch them more closely,” Joshi said.
For three years as a trucking company, Westfield Transport of West Springfield, the company that employed the accused trucker in the New Hampshire crash, faced no significant action from the FMCSA even though it racked up more than 60 infractions and its trucks and drivers have been taken out of service for serious safety violations 26 times.
Dartanyan and Dunyadar Gasanov, brothers who ran the company, are now being sued in federal court for breaking security rules and falsifying records to cover up the violations. They pleaded not guilty.
Truck driver Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, 25, is due to stand trial later this year in New Hampshire on manslaughter and negligent homicide resulting from the crash. He pleaded not guilty.
Joshi appeared before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation along with three other candidates from the Biden administration for positions in the U.S. Department of Transportation. The committee plans to act quickly on the nominations, said U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington, a Democrat who heads the panel.
If Joshi’s appointment is approved by the US Senate, she would be the first permanent FMCSA leader since October 2019, when Raymond Martinez, the administrator appointed by former President Donald Trump, resigned. Two different acting directors ran the agency for the remainder of Trump’s tenure.
Joshi arrived at FMCSA in January as a deputy administrator and is the agency’s acting head. Previously, she was managing director of the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, which regulates taxis and app-based ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft.
During Wednesday’s hearing, Joshi also answered questions about distracted driving, a pilot program that would allow business license holders between the ages of 18 and 20 to cross state borders, and a New York City government program launched under his leadership that collects travel information on carpooling services.