U.S. Department of Transportation
Office of Public Affairs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, September 28, 1999
Contact: Bill Adams
Secretary Slater Reports
Progress in Motor Carrier Safety
Secretary Rodney E. Slater today said that the U.S. Department of Transportation
has taken significant action to improve truck and bus safety in the United
States since the department's safety action plan was announced May 25 to
further enhance highway safety.
said that now is not a time to rest but to build, and we have set a new course
for motor carrier safety that will prevent crashes and save lives,"
Secretary Slater said. "We are focusing on performance, and the data show
that we have made significant progress in a very short period."
In May, Secretary Slater
and Federal Highway Administrator Kenneth R. Wykle announced a safety action
plan with a goal of reducing motor carrier traffic fatalities by 50 percent over
10 years through a comprehensive effort in partnership with safety groups,
industry, and federal, state and local government authorities.
Actions taken include:
Increase of 59 Percent
in Compliance Reviews.
average monthly number of compliance reviews conducted has increased
substantially since the first quarter of 1999, consistent with the goal of
doubling these reviews. A total of 2,770 compliance reviews, an average of
692.5 per month, were conducted throughout the United States during May
through August 1999. A total of 1,745 compliance reviews, an average of 436.3
per month, were conducted during January through April of 1999.
Tripling of Federal
Forty federal safety investigators at the U.S. Mexico border will be in the
field by the end of September, an increase from 13 investigators. These
investigators work closely with state motor carrier inspectors there.
Enforcement Case Backlog
Reduced by Two-Thirds.
The backlog of enforcement cases identified by the department's Inspector
General in an audit of the Office of Motor Carriers has been reduced by
two-thirds, from 1,174 to 363.
Average Fines Have
average fines in settlements have increased from an average of $1,600 per case
during the first two quarters of fiscal 1999 to $3,200 per enforcement case
during the five months, May-September.
Aug. 2, 1999 the Administration's Motor Carrier Safety Act of 1999 was
introduced. The department sent this legislation to Congress to propose tough
new penalties, stricter regulations, advanced technology and strengthened
state enforcement requirements with additional funding.
rulemakings have been completed or will be completed this fall. The department
proposals would prohibit from operating all motor carriers found unfit;
redefine commercial carriers of passengers to include vehicles with eight or
more occupants instead of 16 as it was previously; and would make violating
highway-rail crossing warnings a serious CDL (commercial driver license)
violation, warranting disqualification. On Sept. 1, the department required
that carriers maintain new trailers equipped with rear underride guards
designed to improve crash protection of car occupants, and it continues to
work on revising the regulation on hours of service. A proposal is expected
Study of Truck Crash
department's FHWA, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Bureau
of Transportation Statistics have embarked on a program to collect better data
on the causes of truck crashes to learn from the past and improve safety for
the future. This will help better target enforcement efforts at problem
carriers and drivers.
Vehicles Safety Workshop.
Two two-day workshops, involving more than 70 partners, including industry,
labor, safety groups, insurance, and state and local governments, have been
conducted to help develop long range strategies to achieve the goal of
reducing truck- and bus-related fatalities by 50 percent in 10 years.
Proceedings from the workshops will be available this month.
Looking ahead, Secretary
Slater said that during the next several months the department expects to
provide incentive grant funding to states to deploy the Commercial Vehicle
Information Systems and Networks safety reporting capabilities, which provide
accurate and timely information for federal, state and motor carrier personnel
to help identify unsafe carriers and drivers; publish a unified carrier register
rulemaking to provide each carrier a unique USDOT number, which would reduce the
administrative burden on all carriers and help identify high risk carriers;
provide funding to states for the Performance and Registration Systems
Management Program, which links state motor vehicle licensing programs with the
federal commercial vehicle safety program to enhance its effectiveness; and
begin fleet tests of advanced technology collision avoidance systems on trucks.
According to the
department's Fatal Analysis Reporting System, fatalities involving large
trucks dropped slightly, from 5,398 in 1997 to 5,374 in 1998, the last year for
which data are available.
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