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Statement of U.S. Secretary of Transportation Rodney E. Slater Concerning House Passage of H.R. 2679, the Motor Carrier Safety Act of 1999

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American Government Trucking Topics:  Rodney E. Slater

Statement of U.S. Secretary of Transportation Rodney E. Slater Concerning House Passage of H.R. 2679, the Motor Carrier Safety Act of 1999

U.S. Department of Transportation
October 14, 1999

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 14, 1999
Contact: Bill Adams
Tel.: (202) 366-5580
DOT 164-99

I would like to commend the membership of the House, particularly Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Shuster, Ranking Member Oberstar, Ground Transportation Subcommittee Chairman Petri and Ranking Subcommittee Member Rahall, on their passage of the Motor Carrier Safety Act of 1999.

With safety as the top transportation priority of the Clinton-Gore administration, in May, I set a goal of 50 percent reduction in fatalities from motor carrier-related crashes over the next ten years. The department has redoubled its efforts over the past year, implementing a series of actions to strengthen our program. To date we have doubled the number of compliance reviews accomplished by safety investigators each month, and tripled the number of federal investigators at the U.S.-Mexico border and reduced the backlog of enforcement cases by two-thirds.

The Senate will take up their companion bill soon and I urge them to consider other elements for inclusion, including requiring new CDL applicants to have alcohol and drug-free driving records for three years prior to applying to operate a motor vehicle, requiring on-board recorders where appropriate, and replacing the withholding penalty with a provision requiring transfer of up to five percent of a state’s federal-aid highway funds to its Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program grant. In addition, I would urge the Senate to use this bill to address the nationwide highway-railroad grade crossing and railroad trespasser problem by promoting individual railroad notification programs, endorsing the development of model state legislation to deter grade-crossing violations, and submit key grade crossing data to increase our ability to identify those crossings posing the highest safety risk.

I am pleased the Senate bill includes the word "safety" in the title of the new agency and I look forward to working with the Senate as they begin to move their legislation. With enactment of a strong motor carrier safety measure, we can move forward to meet our goal of reducing commercial motor vehicle related fatalities by 50 percent in the next ten years.

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