On Wednesday, April 29, 2015, the U.S. Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Highways and Transit held a hearing on the “Future of Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety: Technology, Safety Initiatives and the Role of Federal Regulation.” Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) President Maj. Bill Reese of the Idaho State Police testified to the Committee on behalf of the Alliance.
The purpose of the hearing was to focus on the future of motor carrier safety and provide the Subcommittee Members with insight into a broad spectrum of proposals to continue improving motor carrier safety and inform the Committee’s work as they work to develop a long-term surface transportation reauthorization bill.
About 24 members of Congress attended the hearing. Subcommittee Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO) make opening remarks that focused on his concerns with FMCSA, including the size of their budget and the need to help industry.
“I am concerned about the growing scope and number of new regulations being placed on the industry,” said Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO). “Just in the past few years, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has imposed new hours-of-service regulations; implemented the controversial CSA program; and, at the direction of Congress, imposed new equipment mandates on both truck and bus operations.”
As Congress considers the future of CMV safety, we, at CVSA, believe there are a number of opportunities to make changes that will help advance our collective goal of reducing crashes and saving lives. Maj. Reese outlined a number of recommendations to improve safety, such as:
- Give the states more flexibility to design and implement programs that improve CMV safety, while meeting the long list of MCSAP requirements, despite waning resources.
- Consolidate and streamline grants. This will reduce the administrative burden on states and provide stability, and will enable states to spend more time and resources on doing the work of their program.
- Establish requirements for FMCSA to routinely evaluate and update federal regulations, providing enforcement and industry with better clarity, which will save everyone time and resources.
- Congress should also consider eliminating or minimizing the number of legislative exemptions in the future.
- Maximize technology and improve data quality. This can help capitalize on existing enforcement activities, as well as industry investments. It should be noted though, that any new requirements on states or industry much be developed with the enforcement community in mind. Deployment of systems and devices will only be effective if they are functioning and being used properly.
- Even with streamlined grants, clear regulations and full use of all available technology, state programs cannot be effective without adequate funding. Funding for state CMV programs must increase if we are to keep pace with a growing motor carrier industry.
Maj. Reese answered questions from the Subcommittee Members on topics such as the CSA program and safety scores, large vehicle size and weights, increases in the number of axles on vehicles, speed limits, and travel on rural roads versus interstate highways.
Other official witnesses at the hearing are listed below:
- Danny Schnautz, Operations Manager, Clark Freight Lines, Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association
- Tom Kretsinger, President, American Central Transport, American Trucking Associations
- Brian Scott, President, Escot Bus Lines, LLC, United Motor Coach Association
- LaMont Byrd, Director of Safety and Health, International Brotherhood of Teamsters
Members of the Subcommittee Committee who were in attendance and shared remarks or asked questions of the panel of witnesses were:
- Sam Graves (R-MO), Chairman
- Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) Ranking Member
- Peter A. DeFazio (D-OR) Ex-Officio, Full Committee Ranking Member
- Richard L. Hanna (R-NY)
- Janice Hahn (D-CA)
- Lou Barletta (R-PA)
- Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA)
- Scott Perry (R-PA)
- Bob Gibbs (R-OH)
- Rodney Davis (R-IL)
- Crescent Hardy (R-NV)
- Reid J. Ribble (R-WI)
- John Mica (R-FL)
“As this Committee continues to work on long-term surface transportation reauthorization, we should examine what additional safety technologies and initiatives, and common-sense reforms to the regulatory process, could be employed to further reduce crashes and deaths attributed to commercial motor vehicles,” said Chairman Graves. “Is more regulation needed or should Congress concentrate to a greater extent on providing the right incentives for truck and bus operators to operate safely?”
Read CVSA President Maj. Bill Reese’s full testimony.
A link to the hearing notification page can be found here. It includes a list of the witnesses, their written testimony and video of the two-hour hearing.