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Secretary Slater, FHWA Administrator Wykle Announce Legislation to Improve Motor Carrier Safety

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Trucking Topics:  Rodney E. Slater, Kenneth R. Wykle

Secretary Slater, FHWA Administrator Wykle Announce Legislation to Improve Motor Carrier Safety

U.S. Department of Transportation
August 2, 1999

Monday, July 5, 1999
Contact: Ben Langer
Telephone: (202) 366-5571or (202) 267-3333
DOT 99-99

U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater and Federal Highway Administrator Kenneth Wykle today sent to Congress legislation combining tough new penalties, stricter regulations, advanced technology and strengthened state enforcement requirements with additional funding to reach the Clinton administration’s goal of reducing truck-related deaths by 50 percent over the next ten years.

The legislation also calls for on-board recorders, training for new carriers and drivers and penalties for shippers who induce violations of regulations.

The "Motor Carrier Safety Act of 1999" calls on the department and its partners in Congress, state and local governments, the trucking industry, labor, the safety community and the general public, to put safety first.

"We have made significant advances in safety, our highest priority at the Department of Transportation, and President Clinton has challenged us to make our transportation system even safer," Secretary Slater said. "This legislation will require carriers to know the safety regulations before they send trucks out on the road and to use technology to manage drivers ’ hours of service. It will keep high-risk drivers from taking the wheel of a big rig."

"This bill challenges everyone to take responsibility for saving lives on our nation’s highways," said Federal Highway Administrator Kenneth R. Wykle. "The Federal Highway Administration has doubled its compliance reviews, added new inspectors at the Southern border, increased penalties and reduced its backlog of enforcement cases. This bill boosts state funding for enforcement programs and for the first time uses highway spending authority to give states an incentive to achieve a five-percent reduction in fatalities in truck-related crashes each year. "

Key elements of the proposal are:

  • A strengthened Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Program -- All convictions for moving traffic violations, including those committed in non-commercial vehicles, would be recorded on truck and bus drivers’ records. In addition, new applicants for a CDL would be required to have alcohol- and drug-free driving records for three years prior to the application. States would be prohibited from issuing special licenses or permits to commercial drivers convicted of traffic violations.
  • Funding incentives to states -- The proposal targets the redistribution of unused federal highway aid to states that achieve a reduction of 5 percent or more in commercial vehicle fatalities. The proposal also provides additional funding for incentive grants to states to increase compliance reviews and vehicle inspections and to improve the CDL program.
  • On-Board Recorders to Manage Hours-of-Service -- The proposal would require the issuance of regulations providing for some carriers to use on-board recorders or other technologies that manage drivers’ work and rest time. Another provision would initiate a study to examine how driver compensation affects safety.
  • Improved data on commercial vehicle crashes -- The proposal includes a special initiative to improve the collection and reporting of commercial vehicle crash data by states. Greater funding is provided for research to improve the braking and stability of heavy vehicles. The proposal also contains funding support for public information and education programs to prevent commercial motor vehicle crashes.
  • Identification of motor carriers -- Currently there is no means of determining when a commercial carrier goes out of business or increases the size of its operations. The bill would require carriers to refile certain identifying information periodically to better target high-risk carriers.
  • Enforcement -- The legislation would extend motor carrier penalties to any person who knowingly contributes to a violation of federal motor carrier safety regulations. It also would provide a clear definition of when a carrier’s operation could be deemed "imminently hazardous" and subject to shutdown, and would encourage states to develop innovative measures to increase compliance with traffic laws.
  • Improved highway-rail grade crossing safety -- The bill would promote the expansion of toll-free telephone notification systems that the public uses to report malfunctions of automated warning devices at crossings. It also would require the Secretary to develop model state legislation for enforcement for drivers who violate grade-crossing warning signals. Finally, the bill would require states and railroads to provide current information regarding highway-rail grade crossings to DOT to enable effective planning of upgrading and improvement programs.

    The Administration’s proposal includes provisions responding to recommendations from the Inspector General, the National Transportation Safety Board and the special report produced at the Secretary’s request by Norman Mineta, former chairman of the House Public Works Committee, and addresses findings from recent crash investigations.


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