The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) continues to delay or disregard congressional mandates for long-overdue safety standards, said Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook in Senate testimony today.
"Despite repeated promises by FMCSA to significantly reduce truck-related deaths and injuries on our highways and chart an improved course to enhance motor carrier safety, and despite increases in funding and resources for the new government agency, the traveling public remains the victim of an underachieving, and at times, indifferent agency," Claybrook said.
Claybrook said in her testimony that almost 5,000 people are killed each year in truck-related crashes, and that another 130,000 are injured in crashes that cost the economy $24 billion a year. She said FMCSA's 1999 goal of reducing truck deaths by half over a decade "will not be achieved."
According to Claybrook, the agency's oversight of hazardous materials transportation is dangerously inadequate, many truck and bus safety issues at the Mexico border are still unresolved, and the new hours-of-service (HOS) rules are unsafe for both commercial drivers and the public.
Claybrook submitted a list of more than 20 congressional directives since 1988 that have not been completed by the agency. Public Citizen filed suit against the agency in 2002 for failing to implement five such rulemaking actions, including the new HOS rules. The agency settled the suit and agreed to issue final rules on the actions by June 2004.