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Remarks at Commercial Vehicle Safety Summit Ontario, CA

Remarks by
Deputy Administrator Bill Bronrott
Commercial Vehicle Safety Summit

Ontario, CA
Thursday, September 26, 2013

Introduction

Thank you Captain [Brandon] Johnson.

My thanks also to Deputy Commissioner Prieto and Chief Maynard for your highway safety leadership here in California.

I'd also like to acknowledge your Assistant Chief of Enforcement and Planning, Janice Mulanix, who represents you well as a respected member of FMCSA's Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee.

And, to every trooper who puts his or her life on the line ... out on the front lines ... every day to help prevent crashes, deaths and injuries --- We are grateful.

Let me recognize a few colleagues of mine -

FMCSA's new Division Administrator here in California, Steve Mattioli along with our State Program Manager, Greg Bragg,

Our immediate past California Division Administrator, Terry Wolf, who recently stepped up to a new position as Field Administrator for our Western Region, and

Amy Hope, who heads our Ontario office, and two of our safety investigators, Linda Fuentes and Carlos Blanco.

Steve and Terry, and the folks in all of our field offices throughout the Golden State are excellent resources and they're eager to serve you and the public safety.

We greatly appreciate this opportunity to join all of you today for the STAR Awards presentation to honor some of the top California truck and bus companies that have clearly demonstrated that safety is their #1 priority in their day-to-day operations.

You have shown that a true safety-first culture is about placing a premium on ensuring that drivers are well-trained and well-rested; it's about trucks and buses that are well-maintained; and it's about having a safety management system in place to prevent bad things from happening out on our highways.

I can't help but pause for a minute to discuss something that occurred last week. It wasn't a highway safety matter, but it had a huge impact on many in the nation's capital, maybe around the country, but especially at US DOT headquarters.

Last Monday morning, 12 of our neighbors at the Navy Yard next door to us went to work like they do every morning, but they didn't make it home to their families that night. They lost their lives suddenly and violently.

As the week moved on and our attention turned back to our work, I think many of us across all of the road modes at DOT had a renewed awareness that 100 of our neighbors across the country who get up in morning and go about their business, don't make it home to their families EVERY DAY because of traffic crashes for all kinds of reasons. This is not a matter of blame. It's a matter of fact.

And, bringing down the death and injury toll on our roadways, and keeping families whole and circles of friends unbroken, is a matter of partnerships. It's about a shared responsibility. It's about ALL of us stepping up to STAR status to get it done right.

Clearly, this Safety Summit is a reflection of how law enforcement, government and industry can work together on a shared vision ... a shared body of knowledge ... so that -- at the end of the day -- the goods get delivered and everyone gets home safely.

FMCSA's Safety-First Mission

At FMCSA, that is our mission and #1 priority. All of our programs and policies, education and enforcement efforts, grants, and investments in research and technology - tie back to 3 core principles aimed at:

  • Raising the safety bar to enter the motor carrier industry;
  • Requiring carriers and drivers to maintain our high safety standards; and, if need be...
  • Removing high-risk carriers, unsafe companies, drivers and vehicles from the road.

It's about the safety of CMV drivers and those who share the road with them.

For good reason. In 2011 alone, 3900 people were killed in large truck and bus crashes. Of those, 635 were occupants of large trucks, marking a sharp 20 percent increase over the previous year.

That is why, by design, 7 out of 10 of our employees are not in Washington -- they are out on the front lines in every state.

And that is why one-half of our budget goes right back to the states in grants to enlist the support of over 12,000 law enforcement officers dedicated to commercial vehicle safety. Each year, they conduct millions of vehicle inspections, 10's of thousands of new entrant safety audits, and thousands of carrier reviews.

Just this Fiscal Year, FMCSA was pleased to issue over $15 Million in grants to California to support CHP's first-rate commercial vehicle safety efforts.

In addition to our grants program, we have a number of other priorities in progress to raise the safety bar.

Motorcoach Safety

One is motorcoach safety. In February, we launched a new Motorcoach Safety Initiative. We trained 54 of our Safety Investigators in enhanced investigation techniques and undertook investigations of 250 motorcoach companies.

An additional 60 safety investigators are taking this enhanced training this week.

We are conducting an additional 1,400 Safety Assessments of passenger carriers to help us prioritize our investigations into high risk carriers.

All of this is part of fulfilling a MAP-21 requirement that we evaluate a passenger carrier's safety fitness at least every 3 years.

In addition to safety monitoring and enforcement, we have developed a "Look Before You Book" public education campaign that features a Smart Phone App -- the SaferBus App -- that enables travelers to know a bus company's safety status before they buy a ticket or book a charter.

Driver Fatigue Management

Driver fatigue is another top priority. Over the summer, we launched a new and free resource called the North American Fatigue Management Program.

ATA and ATRI, the Canadian Government, and health and medical experts, were among the key organizations involved in its development.

It's an online education and training program made up of 10 instructional modules to inform drivers, their families, safety officers, and dispatchers about effective ways to prevent driver fatigue.

The modules range from safety management practices to sleep disorder management to driver scheduling.

This is a great new tool, and again it's free. I encourage you and your employees to visit the website at www.nafmp.org.

Electronic Logging Devices

While we are on the subject of fatigue, we are moving forward with our Electronic Logging Device rulemaking.

As required under MAP-21, this will require the use of ELDs by carriers subject to handwritten logbooks.

Compliance date 2 years after publication of final rule.

Devices must not be used to harass drivers.

Information collected must only be used for enforcement of Hours of Service requirements.

We plan to publish the Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking later this year.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

We are also looking at obstructive sleep apnea. This a serious health and medical concern for the public in general. And, it's been the focus of our Medical Review Board and Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee.

Last week, FMCSA announced that it will address this issue via a rulemaking to gather all the data and input from the widest possible range of researchers, experts and stakeholders before we make any final policy decisions. So, please stay tuned.

Unified Registration System

Several weeks ago, FMCSA announced a Final Rule establishing the Unified Registration System (URS) for CMV companies seeking DOT Operating Authority. It combines 16 different forms that carriers, freight forwarders and brokers currently use to register and update their information with our Agency into one single, automated electronic “smart form.”

When it goes into full effect in 2015, the new URS will increase efficiency by:

  • Streamlining the registration process for industry.
  • Eliminating the use of the MC number.
  • Carriers will only have a single USDOT number to use for operating authority registration, insurance, and process agent designations.

NO-DEFECT DVIR NPRM

Last month, we issued a proposed rule to eliminate written Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports (DVIR) when no safety problems on a truck have been found. 9 times out of 10, the DVIRs show no defects.

This proposed change would save the trucking industry $1.7 billion annually, without sacrificing safety.

The comment period ends in October.

Rollover Prevention

Vehicle rollover is another major concern to the Department. NHTSA is pursuing a Stability Control rulemaking for heavy vehicles.

At FMCSA, last month we redesigned our Cargo Tanker Truck webpage featuring an excellent Rollover Prevention Driver Training Video. This is a great and free resource for your drivers, and you can access it on our website.

Looking Ahead

Looking ahead, we are moving forward with a wide range of other priority programs and policies in support of our safety-first mission.

A small sampling includes our work on Speed Limiters, Work Zone Safety, a Controlled Substances and Alcohol Clearinghouse, and our campaign to connect veterans with jobs in the industry.

Speed Limiters

FMCSA and NHTSA are working jointly on a rulemaking -- supported by both ATA and safety groups -- to place Speed Limiters in heavy vehicles. We are likely to see this proposed rule issued for public comment next year.

Work Zone Safety

There is growing concern about crashes in work zones. Our data shows 1 of 4 fatal crashes in work zones involves a large truck. FMCSA, NHTSA and the Federal Highway Administration have begun to meet internally to get a clear picture of the scope of the problem. We will surely reach out to the states, industry and our other key stakeholders to put in place the appropriate remedies.

Controlled Substances and Alcohol Clearinghouse

FMCSA is working on a Proposed Rule to establish a CDL Controlled Substances and Alcohol Clearinghouse to require carriers to report verified positive drug and alcohol test results, test refusals, negative return-to-duty test results, and follow-up testing. The Clearinghouse will be a valuable tool for carriers screening driver applicants.

We expect to publish the proposal later this year.

Veteran's CDL Program

We are also looking for ways to create greater job opportunities in the transportation sector - especially for veterans and military personnel returning from overseas duty.

We are working with DOD, Department of Veterans Affairs and other federal agencies, with veterans groups, with industry, and state transportation officials to find jobs for veterans, many of whom have the basic skills and training that would transition well from the military to jobs in the trucking industry.

The Military Commercial Driver's License Act that was enacted into law last year now gives the states the authority to waive the residency rule for military personnel based in one State but domiciled in another who want to apply for a CDL where they are stationed.

Over 2,000 military service personnel have taken advantage of this waiver to provide a pathway for motor carrier jobs that need to be filled.

I encourage you to connect with members of the military looking for civilian jobs through the Hero 2 Hired [www.H2H.jobs].

H2H.jobs is a free web-based tool to help members of our military transition into civilian careers.

You can post an unlimited number of openings for free, search for candidates, and promote your company on this website.

Conclusion

To a casual observer who sees that the highway fatality rate was at an all-time low last year or that CMV-related fatalities dropped by 28 percent between 2005 and 2011, they might think, well, that safety bar has been raised high enough. The job is done. But, I know we know different.

The fact is, if today's an average day - 11 people won't make it home alive and another 241 people will be seriously injured in CMV crashes. And that's just today.

At the Federal Highway Administration, their motto is “Every Day Counts.” In motor carrier safety, I hope we all can agree that it's more like “Every Action Counts” when it comes to the role each of us can and must play to collectively raise the bar on safety.

That is why I am so pleased to be here on behalf of FMCSA's 11 Hundred strong to thank our CHP partners and to honor the best of the best -- the safety STARs of California's motor carrier industry.

Thank you very much for your leadership, your safety-first commitment, and partnership.

Updated: Tuesday, March 18, 2014