You are here

Remarks to the American Trucking Association/Volvo Group

Remarks by Anne S. Ferro
FMCSA Administrator
American Trucking Association/Volvo Group
Washington, DC
December 1, 2010

Good afternoon and thank you for the introduction. It's a pleasure to share this panel with two individuals who raise the bar for commercial vehicle safety in very important ways.

Steve Williams has been an outspoken safety leader at the national and state association level, in his company operations, his use of safe truck technology and research. From the driver's perspective, Ralph Garcia raises the bar by sharing his passion for safe driving with audiences across the nation and setting the standard of Safety Success for his colleagues.

I want to extend a special thanks to ATA and Volvo for placing a spotlight on safety with this event. Together, your leadership is essential to our progress.

This is a great opportunity to talk about FMCSA's safety agenda for a safer future for the motor carrier industry and the challenges of achieving it.

Core Priorities
Americans expect an efficient, reliable and safe transportation system. FMCSA’s role is to fulfill that expectation with regard to interstate CMV operations.

As an agency, we regulate more than 8 million large trucks and 32,000 motor coaches. On the driver side, we ensure the compliance of more than 4 million truck and bus drivers, all working for 500,000 active motor carriers.

We have framed our agency's mission with three core principles: to raise the safety bar to enter the industry; maintain high safety standards to remain in the industry; and remove high-risk operators from our roads and highways. Everything must tie back to one or more of these principles; in our rules, programs, and technology development.

One way we are working to achieve higher safety standards and remove unsafe carriers and drivers from our roads is through CSA – which stands for Compliance, Safety and Accountability.

CSA is our centerpiece safety enforcement program; it has 3 primary components: System, Process, Rule.

The first component is CSA's robust, data-driven Safety Measurement System, which will replace the existing system as the tool used by FMCSA and law enforcement to identify high-risk carriers and others with safety problems.

Second is an enhanced intervention process designed to accelerate corrective action before crashes occur.

And third, is a new safety fitness determination rulemaking that will decouple carrier safety ratings from the traditional, onsite compliance review and instead use all available roadside inspection and crash data to assist the Agency in evaluating a carrier's safety performance and result in greater accountability.

Rulemakings are an important part of how we meet our safety mission. This year, we have had the busiest year on record for rulemakings at FMCSA. I know the hours of service proposed rulemaking is on everyone's minds. Once the current review is completed by OMB, we will publish the proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register. There is not much else I can say about it at this time. So, continue to stay tuned.

On the subject of proposed rules, by the end of the year we expect to publish one on the broader use of electronic on-board recorders or EOBRs to monitor drivers' compliance with the hours-of-service rules by the end of this year. This rule is combined with a rule on supporting documents – necessarily intertwined with the use of EOBR technology. This is a follow-up to our remedial EOBR final rule that mandates the use of the devices by carriers with high hours-of-service violation rates. The proposed rule is currently under review at OMB.

Taking the lead from Secretary LaHood, we are addressing the nation's distracted driving crisis. A new rule prohibiting commercial drivers from texting while driving took effect on October 27. Also, we have a proposed rule to limit the use of mobile phones under review at OMB. We expect to publish the proposed rule by the end of the year.

As I said at the ATA's MC&E Conference a few months ago, we need to help industry make sure drivers are physically alert, have their eyes on the road, and both hands on the wheel.

Five Year Rulemaking Plan To give greater transparency to our regulatory agenda, we are developing a five –year rulemaking plan. This plan will open up the process and give us another channel for feedback from all of our stakeholders on changes that may affect them. The plan will also tie our rulemakings into a long term strategy and blend it with the strategic plans developed for our agency and the Department.

We expect to publish a draft plan and make it open for public comment early in 2011 with a target to finalize the plan by summer 2011.

We will hold listening sessions to gain your input to help shape the direction of the regulatory agenda for motor carrier safety.

The plan will serve as a living document – we will update it when necessary, particularly to include any new rulemakings required through the forthcoming surface transportation reauthorization legislation.

Technology Agenda
Rules and programs are essential but so are the use of advanced safety technologies to shape tomorrow's world. Technologies that my co-panelists, Steve Williams and Ralph Garcia can speak to better than I, such as lane departure warning systems, forward collision warning systems with adaptive cruise control, and roll stability control systems give motor carriers state-of-the-art tools to improve safety. Intelligent Transportation Systems technologies used at roadside inspection facilities can provide more effective and efficient enforcement capabilities. Using these technologies, we can screen vehicles and drivers more selectively and expedite the inspection process which will ultimately have an impact on saving lives and reducing injuries.

A few of the ITS initiatives underway at FMCSA are the Smart Roadside Initiative and IntelliDrive. We believe both programs can transform motor carrier safety and save lives.

Smart Roadside Initiative
The idea behind FMCSA's Smart Roadside Initiative is all about enhancing the operational efficiency and effectiveness of enforcement technologies. The program is led by FMCSA and FHWA and is part of the Department's ITS Strategic Research Plan.

The Smart Roadside Initiative seeks to make information more accessible to the roadside inspector. In the not-too-distant future, inspectors can expect more real-time information at their fingertips.

They can expect more information about the commercial vehicle, and driver but also be able to spot trends in carriers and fleets.

This ability to spot trends can help us identify high risk carriers faster and easier than we could previously. Allow us to conduct roadside enforcement in less traditional areas, i.e. rural roads where there are no fixed weigh/inspection stations.

At issue are the frequent delays in trip times and long lines at inspections stations. Removing trucks from forming long lines can reduce wasted fuel and eliminate the need to idle at inspection and weigh stations.

We can also expect Smart Roadside to provide information on road conditions, truck parking availability and traffic information to reduce congestion and delays.

Finally, Smart Roadside can help expand the application of commercial vehicle features for our leading edge Department-wide IntelliDrive program.

In January 2009, DOT launched "IntelliDrive", rebranding what was formerly referred to in the intelligent transportation systems community as Vehicle-Infrastructure Integration.

The ultimate goal of IntelliDrive is to transform our current surface transportation system into one where vehicles do not crash and cause death or injury and road operators and travelers can access travel condition information whenever they need it.

For trucks and buses, IntelliDrive offers real promise toward reducing crashes.

The high-speed exchange of data will allow truck and bus drivers to be aware of hazards on the road. Other safety benefits include wireless monitoring of the safety status of drivers, vehicles and carriers, and a real-time parking information system to allow truck drivers to reserve guaranteed parking spaces at the end of their work day.

IntelliDrive also provides the ability for in-vehicle and roadside systems to monitor the speed and location of an approaching vehicle to avoid crashes.

To improve efficiency for trucks and buses, IntelliDrive has the potential to make travel times faster and more reliable by providing dispatchers with specific routing and interactive maps.

And eventually, it will have the capability of providing vehicle-to-vehicle information to improve real-time traffic flow.

The safety and efficiency potential of these technologies is exciting, indeed. Safety technologies can fundamentally improve the process of labor-intensive roadside inspections, reduce the likelihood of deadly crashes, reduce travel times and make trip planning more reliable too.

So back to the conference theme…what is the safety challenge of moving the world's freight in the future? From FMCSA's perspective, the challenge is to ensure SAFETY is built into the front end of the supply chain, not at a roadside inspection or the aftermath of a crash.

For FMCSA that means in raising the bar for safety, we need to balance our work with the enterprise and small business opportunities that characterize the trucking industry;

We must deploy systems and programs like CSA that hold the industry accountable for safety and enable companies to get ahead of their companies trends and know what their drivers and vehicles are doing on the roadways;

Together, we will get there; speeding up our economic recovery and saving lives.

Submit Feedback >