November 29, 2023

By: Frank Erica

Tim LaFon recently joined Solera as Vice President of Regulatory Affairs for Fleet. Tim is an industry veteran with decades of experience in commercial motor vehicle product safety and compliance. Tim provides leadership across Solera on the application of federal, state, and provincial laws; supports Solera’s customers and business partners on regulatory matters; works to identify and implement actionable items to ensure compliance, and much more.

Compliance and safety are at the core of Solera Fleet Solutions, so let’s get to know the man behind it all…

Q: Tim, we’re very excited to have you on board! Tell us a bit about your background and what led you to Solera.

A: I have had the pleasure of working in the trucking industry for 35 years. Most of my career has been dedicated to serving in leadership positions in commercial motor vehicle compliance and safety. My knowledge is built on applied “boots-in-the-mud” experience gained through partnership with owners and operators, industry associations, regulators, and enforcement agencies, and extensive study and interpretation of the laws and regulations administered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), and Transport Canada.

Working in this industry for decades has given me a unique perspective on the changing landscape, and I’ve had the pleasure to contribute to the advancement of safety and compliance technologies.

Participated and supported the government study into the use of disc brakes on heavy vehicles in the early 2000s.
Worked in the late 90’s on the introduction of communication systems on heavy vehicles.
Interpreted and introduced new reporting requirements from the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation (TREAD) Act.
One of the first to recognize the importance of close collaboration and transparency with the government, which lead to introducing quarterly meetings to share information that is common practice today.
One of the first to recognize and apply proactive accident investigation support and data reclamation for customers and authorities. Bases was to determine cause, communicate, and work to address any issues. Also, to help reduce likelihood of being sued and development of safety systems.
Worked to improve collaboration between body installers, vehicle manufacturers, and refuse owners and operators on fire prevention.
Worked to provide inputs and develop prescription of a safety management system for advanced vehicle designs and technology such as Automated Driving Systems (ADS).

What I am most proud of is the relationship, respect, and trust from the authorities, owners and operators, and my peers in the regulatory and product safety space. This was earned over the years by being accountable, forthright, and genuinely committed to compliance and safety.

A great example of this level of trust came from when I provided oversight leadership on the recall of 20,000 vehicles for a serious steering safety concern. This was the first time messaging to a vehicle to inform a driver to stop operation in the heavy vehicle space. These efforts were recognized by NHTSA publicly in a press release where NHTSA Administrator Dr. Mark Rosekind said, “we applaud Volvo Trucks’ commitment to addressing every one of these trucks, not only has every truck been found, but they were also repaired or taken out of service before there was any serious crash tied to this dangerous defect. This is exactly what proactive safety is all about.”

Q: Proactive safety and compliance is definitely what it’s all about, Tim. What led you to Solera at this point in your career?

A: Opportunity, timing, the people, the role, and the organization led me to Solera. Solera was the first company that I applied to when I started looking for a new Leadership role. Meeting the great people on the Legal team reinforced and increased my interest.  Also being able to support multiple companies by providing leadership and oversight in a group setting was a perfect fit for my experience which includes building strong networking teams located in different companies in different regions of the world with different cultures.  My short time at Solera has only strengthened my feelings about the people, organization, and the opportunity. It is truly an honor and pleasure to serve the organization in this role.

Q: How does your work at Solera impact fleet customers?

A: Solera’s fleet solutions impact customers compliance efforts. As such, Regulatory Affairs leadership and oversight is essential to our business. Through the combined efforts of the regulatory affairs function and those that have responsibility, we will continue to build on our foundation to ensure that the solutions we offer meet and exceed the compliance requirements that apply to our product and service offerings. These efforts include actively engaging our customers, regulators, and industry to build relationships and trust.

Q: What are your top priorities for 2024?

A: We have a very busy year ahead. My top 5 priorities for 2024 include:

Increase visibility and communication of laws and regulations through the development of guidance documents, training, and other knowledge sharing activities.
Reinforce current ways of working and develop new policies and procedures as needed.
Reinforce and sustain monitoring practices to identify and communicate regulatory changes affecting our business.
Continue to foster collaboration and use of best practices across the organization.
Build relationships with the industry to ensure compliance and support Solera’s vision.

Q: Leveraging your industry knowledge and expertise, what are your top predictions for the coming year when it comes to regulations in trucking?

A: I believe the next year will bring…

Continued focus on vehicle electrification. For example, changes to fuel tax structure to tax electric vehicle operation.
Continued focus on Automated Driving Systems at both the state and federal levels. Medium and heavy-duty manufacturers and technology providers that they have partnered with will continue to increase operation on public roads, which will inherently increase the risk of an accident and potential negative public opinions. The concern is how to safely introduce automated vehicles on public roads.
Beliefs and support for beyond compliance. I heard this twice at two conferences in the past three months. This is not a new concept because the expectation is that reasonable care will be exercised which means that additional efforts above and beyond certification and compliance will be applied. The new spin is to focus attention on the bad actors who represent the most risk instead of those that go beyond compliance to appropriately manage safety.

It was a pleasure meeting with Solera’s new VP of Regulatory Affairs for Fleet. We will share more insights from Tim throughout the year and in regular compliance and safety-focused webinars. Just like Tim, Solera | Omnitracs has been committed to compliance and safety for 35 years. If you’re interested in learning about our compliance and ELD solutions, visit our website and contact us.