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Friday, April 16, 2021

The Trucking Alliance continuing truck safety reforms

The Trucking Alliance continuing truck safety reforms

The Alliance for Driver Safety & Security, also known as The Trucking Alliance, submitted a letter to Sen. Deb Fischer, chairman of the Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security, and ranking member Sen. Cory Booker.

The letter thanks the Subcommittee for convening a hearing entitled “Continuing to Improve Truck Safety on our Nation’s Highways” and requests their letter be included in the hearing’s record.

The Trucking Alliance said they were “particularly proud of the testimony given by Mr. Jerry Moyes, chairman emeritus of Swift Transportation, as his company recently became a member of the Trucking Alliance” and again restated their safety objectives and six core principles of operation.

Advancing their goal of what they term “continuing truck safety reforms”, the letter noted that despite the efforts of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to reduce crashes, injuries and fatalities, large trucks are still involved in too many accidents.

From their letter:

For example, in 2015, according to U.S. Department of Transportation data, there were 414,598 large truck accidents on US roadways, in which 116,000 people were injured and 4,067 people lost their lives. Of these fatalities, 594 were commercial truck drivers. Our industry cannot tolerate such tragic numbers each year.

That’s why the Trucking Alliance urges Congress to support the following FMCSA proposed rules and regulations, all of which can help reduce large truck crashes:
Implement the Electronic Logging Device Mandate: In 2012, Congress mandated that all commercial trucks install electronic logging devices to verify a commercial driver’s hours- of-service rules. The FMCSA has promulgated regulations to implement this congressional mandate by December 17, 2017. Truck driver fatigue is a major factor in large truck accidents and ELDs will help ensure that drivers comply with the law and don’t exceed their hours behind the wheel. Congress must make sure that any effort by industry groups to stop, reverse, or delay the ELD mandate are denied.

Grant a “Petition for Exemption” to Recognize Hair Tests for Pre-Employment Commercial Driver Drug Test Requirements: Section 5402 of the “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act,” contained a provision that directed the Department of Health and Human Services to issue scientific and technical guidelines for hair testing, as a method to detect controlled substance abuse. After these HHS guidelines are adopted, FMCSA should initiate a rulemaking to permit hair testing as an acceptable alternative to urine testing for commercial driver drug testing requirements.

But before FMCSA completes this rulemaking, the FMCSA Administrator should grant a Petition for Exemption recently filed by several carriers that currently utilize hair testing for pre- employment purposes. Hair testing is a more reliable (albeit twice as expensive) method for identifying lifestyle drug users, rather than the less expensive and less reliable urine exam. If granted, these petitioners may use a hair analysis, rather than spending unnecessarily on a second urine exam, to meet federal drug test requirements for commercial driver job applicants, while FMCSA completes its rulemaking.

Require Speed Limiters on Commercial Trucks: FMCSA has proposed that large commercial trucks be equipped with a speed limiting device. The Trucking Alliance supports a federal regulation to require that all commercial trucks of the specifications proposed, whether engaged in interstate or intrastate commerce and whether new or old, be equipped with a truck speed limiter device. Further, the Trucking Alliance supports a truck speed limiter rule in which the maximum speed setting is no more than 65 mph.

Reduce the Price of the Federal Pre-Employment Screening Program: The FMCSA created the PSP to help carriers make more informed hiring decisions, by providing secure, electronic access to the FMCSA’s commercial driver’s five-year crash and three-year inspection history.

However, less than 1% of the industry utilizes these reports. This is because the third party contractor that implements the program charges $10 per report, a fee that is cost-prohibitive to many motor carriers and more than twice the price that the contractor originally promised, once its start-up costs were recovered. The FMCSA should renegotiate the PSP fee to encourage more industry participation and help carriers make more informed hiring decisions.

Increase Minimum Financial Requirements for Motor Carriers: In 2012, the “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act” or MAP-21, authorized the Secretary of Transportation to evaluate whether the minimum financial requirements for motor carriers, set at $750,000 in 1980, should be increased. Further, Section 32104 of MAP-21, also directed the Secretary to issue a report on the appropriateness of these requirements, every 4 years, starting April 1, 2013, meaning that the Secretary should issue an updated report this year.

The Trucking Alliance maintains that a motor carrier should be sufficiently insured to compensate the victims of truck accidents, as Congress set forth when it set the minimum insurance requirements more than 35 years ago. These minimum insurance limits have not been increased since, and are inadequate to meet the purposes for which Congress intended. These minimum insurance requirements should be increased.

In Conclusion: The Trucking Alliance carriers embrace the “Road to Zero” national initiative. Sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, FMCSA, and the National Safety Council, this campaign will utilize private and public sectors to design plans to fully eliminate all highway accident fatalities, including large truck crashes.

More safety reforms should be adopted, not only to ensure the greater safety and security of commercial drivers but the general public. The commercial trucking industry has a moral and ethical responsibility to fully eliminate fatalities and injuries caused by large truck crashes and to achieve a safety performance record equal to the commercial airline industry