Safety groups bash FMCSA performance

Today the Truck Safety Coalition, Public Citizen, and Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety concluded its four-day “Sorrow to Strength” conference in Washington, DC

Today the Truck Safety Coalition, Public Citizen, and Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety concluded its four-day “Sorrow to Strength” conference in Washington, DC geared to pressure the Dept. of Transportation to change course on key trucking policies.

At issue to the safety groups are opening the border to Mexican trucks, electronic on-board recorders (EOBRs), speed governors, hours-of-service, and truck size and weight.

During the event, the Truck Safety Coalition ranked each state by “deadliest trucking state in the nation,” which considers the number of truck crash deaths compared to the population in 2005.

Wyoming holds the dubious honor of being the worst, at 6.09 deaths per population of 100,000. The runners up are Arkansas (4.17), Oklahoma (3.41), New Mexico (3.27), Mississippi (3.12), West Virginia (3.03), Kentucky (2.97), Kansas (2.91), South Carolina (2.91), and Missouri (2.86).

Conversely, Rhode Island (0.09) suffers the fewest truck crash deaths by population, followed by Massachusetts (0.38), Connecticut (0.48), District of Columbia (0.54), Hawaii (0.71), Alaska (0.75), New York (0.76), New Hampshire (0.84), and Delaware (0.95).

The coalition of crash victims and safety advocates have called on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to:

  • Reject any rollback in truck safety regulations that would allow exemptions to federal truck size and weight laws or longer combination vehicles
  • Prohibit the opening of the southern border to Mexican-domiciled trucks
  • Mandate the use of EOBRs for every truck and bus
  • Deny exemptions to the hours-of-service (HOS) rule
  • Require speed governors on all trucks

The safety advocates also released a report card on FMCSA’s safety leadership, which gave the agency an “F” on all counts but one; an “A” was given for “advancing the trucking industry’s economic priorities rather than public safety.”

“FMCSA is failing the American public in its very basic mission,” said Joan Claybrook, president of Public Citizen, pointing to the report card.

Public Citizen and the Truck Safety Coalition, which is an umbrella group of Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT) and Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH), has built a reputation for successfully challenging the federal DOT. A lawsuit led by Public Citizen resulted in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit declaring the 2003 HOS illegal based on FMCSA’s failure to address the rule’s effect on drivers’ health—a decision that temporarily sent the trucking industry into regulatory turmoil.

FMCSA made effective its 2005 HOS regs in response to the decision but the court still has to rule on whether the new rule is sufficient. This makes HOS a hot zone for clashes among trucking and highway safety interests.

Similar lines were drawn between safety groups and trucking interests in February when the federal DOT announced it will start a pilot program that will allow Mexican-domiciled trucks to deliver international freight directly to U.S. cities.

Read Mexican trucking challenge echoes HOS opposition and Senate ponders opening border to Mexican trucks

To comment on this article, write to Terrence Nguyen at [email protected]

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