The Future of Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety: Technology, Safety Initiatives, and the Role of Federal Regulation
2167 Rayburn House Office Building
Summary of Subject Matter
Official Hearing Transcript
Subcommittee on Highways and Transit
Hearing on “The Future of Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety: Technology, Safety Initiatives, and the Role of Federal Regulation”
(Remarks as Prepared)
Today’s hearing will focus on the future of motor carrier safety. It is important to note, at the outset, that the safety record of commercial motor carriers and motorcoach operators has improved dramatically since the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) was established in 1999. According to the FMCSA's most recent “Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts,” the number of large trucks and buses involved in fatal crashes decreased by 17 percent and 4 percent, respectively, from 2003 to 2013. Industry, drivers, and the enforcement community alike deserve credit for these achievements.
Congress, and this Committee in particular, has played an important role as well, from creating the FMCSA to focus specifically on truck and bus safety, to authorizing the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program, which provides resources for states to enforce federal commercial motor vehicle regulations.
I am concerned, however, about the growing scope and number of new regulations being placed on the industry. Just in the past few years, the agency has imposed new hours of service regulations; implemented the controversial CSA program; and, at the direction of Congress, imposed new equipment mandates on both truck and bus operators.
I am also concerned about the growth of FMCSA. The budget for the agency has more than doubled since fiscal year 2001, its first full year of operation, and stands at $572 million. While I support a strong safety program, we need to ensure that funds are being spent on initiatives that will move the needle in terms of reducing crashes, injuries, and fatalities on the nation's highways.
Of particular concern to me is a recent regulatory proposal to raise the minimum levels of financial responsibility, potentially by millions of dollars.
As this Committee continues its work on the long-term surface transportation reauthorization, we should examine what additional safety technologies and initiatives, and common-sense reforms to the regulatory process, could be employed to further reduce crashes, injuries, and deaths attributable to commercial motor vehicles. Is more regulation needed, or should Congress concentrate to a greater extent on providing the right incentives for truck and bus operators to operate safely?
We are grateful that each of the stakeholders represented today has developed thoughtful policy recommendations and look forward to a robust debate over your specific proposals. From providing greater flexibility to state enforcement agencies, to encouraging the development and deployment of active safety systems and reforming the way FMCSA undertakes rulemakings, various proposals deserve robust debate and serious consideration.
I am hopeful that today’s hearing will provide our Subcommittee Members with insight into a broad spectrum of proposals to continue improving motor carrier safety and inform this Committee’s work as we develop a long-term surface transportation reauthorization bill.
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