Federal agencies Transportation Leadership Transportation

Senate confirms Martinez as FMCSA head, Batory as FRA chief

Department of Transportation

Washington — Raymond Martinez is the new chief of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and Ronald Batory takes over as head of the Federal Railroad Administration, after the pair received Senate confirmation on Feb. 13.

Martinez has served as chairman and chief administrator at the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission since 2010. He previously was commissioner of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles and chairman of the Governor’s Traffic Safety Commission. Martinez also worked in various roles in the Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush administrations.

Martinez will wade fully into the ongoing debates on electronic logging devices in commercial motor vehicles and sleep apnea screenings and treatment for drivers. Asked about ELDs during an appearance before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on Oct. 31, Martinez said, “Everything that we approach this with is through that lens of safety. It would be my intention, if confirmed, to first and foremost abide by the law, but also to have an open-door policy and work with all the impacted stakeholders.”

In August, FMCSA and FRA withdrew a joint advance notice of proposed rulemaking that sought to gather data and information on moderate to severe sleep apnea among safety-sensitive workers in highway and rail transportation.

Critics of the withdrawal include the National Transportation Safety Board, three professional medical groups and all four senators from New York and New Jersey – who sent a letter to Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao on Aug. 21 conveying their “serious concern” regarding the decision.

NTSB expressed its “disappointment” with the withdrawal of the ANPRM in August, and again last month after its investigations into two commuter railroad collisions in the New York City metro area.

Batory’s confirmation comes after high-profile rail incidents in recent months, including a collision between an Amtrak train and a freight train on Feb. 4 in Cayce, SC. The crash killed two Amtrak employees and injured 116 people.

Batory is a retired railroad industry executive. His confirmation reportedly had been delayed since August by the aforementioned senators from New York and New Jersey, led by Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). The lawmakers were seeking a funding commitment to the Gateway Program, a multibillion-dollar renovation and expansion plan for the Northeast Corridor rail line between New York City and Newark, NJ.

Post a comment to this article

Safety+Health welcomes comments that promote respectful dialogue. Please stay on topic. Comments that contain personal attacks, profanity or abusive language – or those aggressively promoting products or services – will be removed. We reserve the right to determine which comments violate our comment policy. (Anonymous comments are welcome; merely skip the “name” field in the comment box. An email address is required but will not be included with your comment.)