I am pleased to present the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) fiscal year (FY) 2017 Budget Request of $794.2 million which includes funding for operations and grants to advance commercial motor vehicle (CMV) safety throughout the nation. This includes a request for an additional $150 million in proposed 21st Century Clean Transportation Plan Investments funding. This important legislation will build upon the authorization levels contained in the bipartisan Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) and will enable FMCSA to supplement its programs with critical resources to both strengthen safety operations and provide much needed increases in safety grants.
This request aligns with the Department of Transportation’s top priority of safety as well as FMCSA’s mission to save lives by preventing crashes involving large trucks and buses.
Since FMCSA was established as a separate agency within the Department of Transportation in 2000, the number of lives lost in large truck and bus-related crashes has decreased 26 percent. Although these numbers represent significant progress, still more than 4,000 people die each year in crashes involving large trucks and buses and fatalities have been generally increasing annually since 2009.
We at FMCSA understand that safe trucking moves the economy and safe bus operations move our loved ones. Not only that, we want every bus driver to transport their passengers safely, and every truck driver to make their runs safely before returning home to their families.
To achieve our safety mission to reduce crashes and fatalities involving commercial motor vehicles, we are guided by three core safety principles:
- Raise the bar to enter the motor carrier industry,
- Require high safety standards to remain in the industry and
- Remove high-risk carriers and drivers from our roadways.
It is a complex and important task to oversee more than 500,000 motor carriers in the United States and almost 4 million active Commercial Driver’s License holders. The job is not getting any smaller or easier. There has been an increase of nearly 3 million commercial trucks registered in the United States since FMCSA was established 15 years ago. Truck freight is projected to grow by 43 percent by 2040. The 1,100 FMCSA employees deployed across the country cannot accomplish our mission without help.
Building Safety Partnerships
That is why we are focusing on strengthening partnerships with our stakeholders in state and local government, law enforcement, the safety advocacy community, labor, and private industry. We do our best work and perform at our highest levels when we are working together with our stakeholders, who share our concern for highway safety and preventing crashes, injuries and fatalities. They are our force multipliers.
We direct more than half of our budget to grants to support CMV safety, including the 3.5 million roadside inspections on CMVs and drivers conducted each year by state law enforcement personnel to ensure safety compliance.
Implementing the FAST Act
FMCSA recognizes the importance of partnering with stakeholders to implement the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, or FAST Act, signed by President Obama in December 2015. The FAST Act offers multi-year funding certainty for surface transportation, meaning that together with our force-multiplier partners, we can move forward with critical safety programs. We are coordinating with other federal agencies and our partners to establish working groups and strategic collaborations on a range of issues, including:
- The development of a new allocation formula for our Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program grants to states for motor carrier, CMV, and driver safety programs;
- The creation of a program that allows the Department of Veterans Affairs’ physicians to issue FMCSA medical certificates to qualified veteran CMV operators;
- New Department of Health and Human Services guidelines that impact drug testing guidance for CMV drivers; and
- Household goods consumer protection rights.
We will execute a number of important CMV safety provisions contained in the FAST Act, including:
- Studying the effectiveness of Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA), our safety and compliance program;
- Streamlining grant programs to provide our State partners with increased flexibility to tailor funding requests to conditions on the ground;
- Continuing our Wireless Roadside Inspection research to enhance the efficient screening of commercial vehicles as they travel down the road; and
- Developing a Beyond Compliance program that allows carriers to receive credit for utilizing certain technologies or safety practices.
Following Through on Priorities
In addition to implementing the safety provisions in the FAST Act, we have a robust set of priorities that will advance our safety mission and protect the traveling public on the nation’s roadways. They include:
- Publishing a proposed Safety Fitness Determination rule to change the Agency’s rating methodology by integrating on-road safety data from inspections and the results of carrier investigations and crash reports;
- Completing the phased implementation of the Unified Registration System that will enable the Agency to more readily detect unsafe carriers seeking to evade enforcement;
- Modernizing our information technology platform used by inspectors to provide real-time carrier and safety information at roadside; and
- Implementing Phase III of the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program to facilitate interventions.
Our budget proposal also recognizes, and responds to the increasing economic ties between the United States and our neighbors. It is our job to ensure that foreign carriers entering the United States are held to the same high standards as American carriers. We are improving our border facilities and bolstering our presence to more effectively inspect foreign CMVs entering the country from Mexico and Canada.
Taken together, this budget proposal contains the operational and grant resources we need to continue our efforts to protect the traveling public who use our nation’s roadways every day. Our requested resources will save lives and help ensure that safe trucking continues to move our economy and safe bus operations move our loved ones.
I thank you for your due consideration of our FY2017 request.