CVSA Testifies Before House Highways and Transit Subcommittee on CSA 2010
CVSA’s Interim Executive Director, Stephen A. Keppler testified before the House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit at a hearing on June 23, 2010 called by Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) to review FMCSA’s plans to implement CSA 2010. Keppler testified on a panel of witnesses that included FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro, representatives of the American Trucking Associations (ATA), and the Owner Operators Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA).
While there were concerns about the process and timing of the implementation of CSA 2010, there was general consensus among all of the witnesses on the overall need for the new plan. Members agreed if the implementation was done carefully, a significant improvement in commercial vehicle safety would be the result.
Key issues raised by ATA and OOIDA were crash preventability, violations being counted against the carrier without an effective due process procedure in place and using VMT as an exposure measure rather than power units. Other issues were the weightings being considered for the Safety Fitness Determination Rulemaking, as well as the possibility of inconsistent enforcement among the states such as probable cause states having a disproportionate amount of violations assigned to carriers for safety rating purposes.
A key concern of CVSA, also shared by Chairman DeFazio and other subcommittee members, was whether the states will have adequate funding to implement the new program since they will have to expend the same resources as FMCSA for this purpose. Administrator Ferro said FMCSA would look into the possibility of letting states use funding from the state safety grant programs, including MCSAP, to help with these costs.
House DOT-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee Marks Up 2011 Funding Bill
This subcommittee reported out its version of the bill to the full House Appropriations Committee on Thursday, July 1. Since a new Transportation Reauthorization bill has not yet been passed, motor carrier safety programs will be funded at the maximum limits allowed under SAFETEA-LU, as was the case with the 2010 funding bill. However, at the request of FMCSA, an additional $20 million was approved for their administrative budget to help with the costs associated with CSA 2010.
Final action on the 2011 budget is uncertain. The entire appropriations process in Congress is behind schedule and there is a possibility that Congress will not complete work on the appropriations bills by the start of the new fiscal year that starts on October 1 of this year. There will very likely be at least one or more Continuing Resolutions before final passage. Since this is an election year, Congress is anticipating an early adjournment.
Auto Safety Bill Extends Event Data Recorders Requirement to Commercial Vehicles
Both the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Senate Commerce Committee have reported their respective versions of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2010. The bill number in the House is HR 5381 and in the Senate, S. 3302. As of this moment, floor action in either the House or Senate has not been scheduled. This legislation largely deals with issues raised by the Toyota crisis by strengthening the power and authority of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
The Senate version (S. 3302) as reported out of the Commerce Committee contained an amendment offered by Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) extending the requirement for event data recorders to commercial vehicles. The amendment reads in part, “Not later than 3 years after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall revise part 563 of Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, to require that all medium-duty vehicles and heavy-duty vehicles sold in the United States beginning with the model year 2017 be equipped with an even data recorder that meets the requirements of that part.”
Senate Commerce Committee Approves Bill Offering States Incentives to Ban Texting
The Senate Commerce Committee also has approved a bill, S. 1938, that would make federal grants available to states that enact laws prohibiting texting and/or other use of handheld cell phones. NHTSA would administer the grant program which requires that 50 percent of grant money received by a state should be used to educate the public about the dangers of texting or using a cell phone while driving, as well as to enforce the law. While hearings have been held in the House, a bill has not been reported out of Committee.
In the meantime, CVSA has filed comments (attached) on a proposal by FMCSA to prohibit texting in commercial motor vehicles. CVSA pointed out that there are a number of other distracted driving activities that contribute to crashes and driver performance.
CVSA Participates in Coalition “Toward Zero Deaths” (TZD)
CVSA is participating in “Toward Zero Deaths,” a national highway safety strategy with the purpose to serve as a national roadmap for reducing highway fatalities and serious injuries. The strategy (see attached) will be to develop a national safety plan and an outreach program as well as a process for implementing the plan. Efforts will be made to coordinate the plan with Canada’s Road Safety Vision activity. The steering committee is made up of representatives of CVSA, Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA), National Association of Counties (NACO), International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) as well as FHWA, FMCSA, and NHTSA. In addition to a series of webinars held in June, a national TZD Summit will be held in Washington, D.C. on August 25-26, 2010.