STATEMENT OF U.S. TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY SLATER UPON SENATE PASSAGE OF MOTOR CARRIER SAFETY IMPROVEMENT BILL
Topics: Rodney E. Slater
U.S. Department of Transportation
November 19, 1999
Friday, November 19, 1999
Contact: Bill Adams
This week’s vote by the U.S. Congress is an important moment in American transportation history, and I commend the Members for passing the "Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999." I also want to extend my appreciation to the safety groups, trucking industry and organized labor who worked hard to enact one of the most comprehensive steps ever taken to save lives on America’s highways.
I will recommend to President Clinton that he sign the bill because it will give the U.S. Department of Transportation and states tough enforcement tools to significantly improve commercial motor carrier safety across the country and at our borders. Safety is President Clinton’s and Vice President Gore’s highest transportation priority.
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 has been critical to agreement on this important legislation. I applaud their leadership and am gratified that Congress moved swiftly on its passage.
This historic legislation provides our federal and state transportation professionals additional tools to meet the challenge of truck and bus safety. It is a singular opportunity to make major strides toward improving motor carrier safety and achieving the Clinton-Gore Administration's 50 percent fatality reduction goal.
There are now more than 490,000 business entities – including 13,000 motor coach operators – and 6 million drivers subject to federal and state safety oversight. There are more than 7 million large trucks traveling almost 200 billion miles on the nation’s highways each year. We face a significant challenge. In 1998, 5,374 deaths occurred in crashes involving heavy trucks. This unacceptably high number reflects the enormous personal loss for victims and their families, giving rise to the Administration’s stretch goal to significantly reduce these fatalities by 50 percent over the next 10 years.
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.
(*Note for editors: The U.S. Senate passed the bill on Nov. 19, 1999.)
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