In testimony before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Highways and Transit last week, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Admin. (FMCSA) Administrator John Hill reported on the agency’s progress in improving commercial vehicle safety as well as new efforts in this area.
According to Hill, the number of compliance reviews (CR) conducted in 2006 increased by 33% over 2004, resulting in 4,195 enforcement actions. “We know from past analysis that carriers improve their safety operations after a CR,” Hill told the subcommittee.
In addition, in 2005 the number of roadside inspections of vehicles operated by carriers identified as high risk increased by 9% over the previous year, placing 220,000 drivers out of service and removing 547,000 vehicles from the road. “We estimate that roadside inspections conducted in 2005 resulted in over 18,000 fewer crashes, approximately 13,000 fewer injuries, and approximately 700 fewer fatalities,” he said.
A recent addition to FMCSA’s cadre of enforcement tools is the new-entrant safety audit, which was developed to ensure that “all new motor carriers become aware of the safety regulations.” Hill pointed out that 40,000 of these audits were conducted in 2006. “FMCSA also proposed revisions to strengthen this program; we are analyzing comments to the… NPRM with our goal that a final rule will be issued in 2008…”
Addressing the quality of the safety performance data used to target carriers that pose a high-crash risk, Hill talked about what FMCSA is doing to ensure the data is as “complete, timely and as accurate as possible.”
Specifically, FMCSA has been working with the states to improve the reporting of large truck and bus inspection data. According to Hill, “there has been significant improvement” between 2001 and 2006. While the number of crashes reported increased by 32%, the “number or large truck fatal and injury crashes has actually decreased...demonstrating that the increase in crashes show in the…database represents more complete and accurate reporting by the states,” Hill pointed out.
Reporting of non-fatal crashes by some states is still lacking, however, so the agency is devising ways to track this information more closely.
“Focusing on driver-specific and vehicle-specific information, respectively, states will be rated on the completeness of the data contained in crash and inspection records reported to FMCSA,” said Hill. These new measures will be implemented in 2008.