Truck Saftey Initiative
26 May 1999U.S. Secretary of Transportation Rodney E. Slater Announces Plan to Reduce Truck-Related Deaths U.S. Secretary of Transportation Rodney E. Slater and Federal Highway Administrator Kenneth Wykle today announced a safety action plan that will combine stronger enforcement, tougher penalties, new regulations, advanced technology and education and research to reduce the number of deaths on the nation's highways associated with commercial vehicles. Slater and Wykle also announced a long-range goal of reducing these fatalities by 50 percent over ten years through a comprehensive effort involving these and other measures to be developed by governmental, safety and industry authorities. "We have made significant advances in safety, but, as President Clinton has said, this is not a time to rest, but to build," said Secretary Slater. "Our plan will focus resources from across the entire department to provide answers to the tough questions about how we produce better vehicles with better drivers and how we get the drivers and companies with bad records off the roads." The safety action plan marshals the resources of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), which enforces safety requirements for carriers and drivers, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which develops new vehicle safety performance regulations; the Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA), which administers the hazardous materials program; the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), which conducts a comprehensive highway-rail grade crossing safety program; the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), which oversees the safety of transit bus operations, and the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), which tracks and analyzes travel and crash trends.. Key components of the immediate safety action plan include the following: New rules providing the authority to shut down unfit carriers; Significantly increasing the fines for safety violations, limiting negotiated settlements or"wrist-slaps," and eliminating the current backlog of enforcement cases by the end of the year; Doubling the number of compliance reviews each month for safety investigators. This means an annual increase per inspector from 24 to 48; A final rule on hours of service to be completed as soon as possible. The department will actively engage all interested and affected parties in the process of achieving this goal; Where deaths take place in a crash, aggressively pursuing criminal or civil action, when warranted; The disqualification of drivers who disregard railroad grade crossing warnings from driving commercial vehicles, to be completed by this summer. Slater also announced that the Administration has amended its FY 2000 budget, asking Congress to provide an additional $55.8 million to mount the effort. To meet the 50 percent goal, during the next 90 days, the department will engage all affected parties in frank discussions about the long range strategy that will be needed to achieve the aggressive fatality and injury reduction goal. Among these will be consideration of crash worthiness requirements to reduce fatalities in truck/car collisions, examination of requirements to effectively control speeding of large trucks and possibly imposing requirements that new carriers demonstrate knowledge of existing safety regulations.