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American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Trucking Topics:  Rodney E. Slater


U.S. Department of Transportation
November 18, 1999

Thursday, November 18, 1999
Contact: Bill Adams
Telephone: 202-366-5580
DOT 191-99

I am gratified that the Congress is moving swiftly to pass the "Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999" (H.R. 3419). This bill would give the U.S. Department of Transportation and states additional tools to significantly improve commercial motor carrier safety across the country and at our borders. President Clinton has made clear that safety is the highest priority for the Department of Transportation. The Administration strongly supports passage of H.R. 3419.

The leadership of House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bud Shuster and Ranking Member Jim Oberstar, and Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John McCain and Ranking Member Ernest Hollings was critical to this agreement.

This legislation is truly a broad-based, bipartisan effort and, if enacted, will reduce motor carrier crashes and save lives. It incorporates initiatives from Senate and House proposals; the Administration’s proposal; a safety audit by the Department’s Inspector General, Kenneth M. Mead; a review conducted for the Department by former House Public Works and Transportation Committee Chairman Norman Y. Mineta; and recommendations from labor, safety groups, industry, and state and local governments.

The bill would create a new Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration focused on safety as its highest priority. I support that safety emphasis wholeheartedly and applaud other provisions to increase resources and regulatory and enforcement tools. Among the significant provisions are:

* Commercial Driver’s License Program. Comprehensive improvements would be made to the Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) program. These would allow the Department and its state partners to more effectively identify problem drivers, take appropriate remedial action, and get high-risk drivers off the road.

* New Entrants. A "new entrants" program would permit the Department and states to ensure the safety fitness of newly-formed motor carrier companies. New applicants for authority would demonstrate their knowledge of safety regulations, and the Department would be challenged to review the safety of new carriers within the first 18 months of operation.

* Foreign Carriers. The Department would gain strong new sanctions to prevent foreign carriers from operating illegally in the United States. The Department would deny entry to carriers that are not properly registered and impose stiff fines on violators. If carriers operate outside the scope of their registration authority, their trucks would be placed out-of-service at the roadside.

* Data Collection to Target Problems. New data and analysis tools would help the Department determine why truck and bus crashes happen and identify the best prevention measures. H.R. 3419 would fund a major crash causation study and put into place a new system for collecting crash data nationally. The bill would also require motor carriers to update their records with the Department, helping us to focus enforcement resources on carriers that present the greatest safety risk.

* Increased Resources. With passage of this bill, states would receive a major boost in resources to conduct more inspections of vehicles, drivers, and carriers. They would be able to implement innovative new safety countermeasures, keep more complete records on driver violations, and greatly strengthen enforcement programs.

I urge the Congress to act expeditiously to approve the "Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999." I believe we have a singular opportunity now to make major strides toward improving motor carrier safety and achieving the Administration's 50 percent fatality reduction goal. We at the Department look forward to working with all our partners in continuing these critical efforts to save lives and make our nation's highways safer.


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