- The Honorable Christopher A. Hart, Chairman, National Transportation Safety Board
- Captain Chris Turner, Kansas Highway Patrol and Vice President of Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance
- Dr. Paul P. Jovanis, Professor Emeritus, Pennsylvania State University; Chair, Transportation Research Board Committee
- Mr. Jerry Moyes, Chairman Emeritus, Swift Transportation
- Dr. Adrian Lund, President, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
Tuesday, March 14, 2017
Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security
The hearing will be held in Senate Russell Office Building, Room 253. Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing will be available on this page.
Chairman Deb Fischer
Good afternoon everyone. Thank you all for being here today for our second hearing of the Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security Subcommittee. Today’s hearing, entitled “Continuing to Improve Truck Safety on our Nation’s Highways,” brings together a panel of expert witnesses to discuss this important topic.
Enhancing the safety of our nation’s highways and roads is a critical responsibility of Congress, the Department of Transportation, local governments, law enforcement officials, and everyone who uses our roads. We must strive to strengthen the safety and reliability of our transportation system.
Commercial vehicles are a key component of our multi-modal transportation system. From globally recognized companies to small, single-truck owner-operators, America’s truckers move billions of dollars of goods and materials each year.
In 2014, more than 31 million commercial trucks hauled 10.5 billion tons of freight across this country. More than seven million Americans are employed in the trucking sector. In Nebraska, trucking employs one out of every 12 workers, representing nearly 63,000 people.
I’m pleased that commercial vehicle operators have made significant investments in safety. According to estimates by the American Trucking Associations, carriers are making a $9.5 billion annual investment in safety through expenditures on driver training and screening, safety incentive pay, advanced technologies, and compliance.
Innovation and technology can also serve as key tools for advancing safety on our roads.
Last month, this subcommittee heard testimony from Schneider National trucking. Schneider, like others, is investing in radar-based collision mitigation systems. According to CEO Chris Lofgren, Schneider has “experienced a 69 percent decrease in rear-end accidents.”
Other carriers are investing in safety technology such as event recorders, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning systems, and adaptive cruise control systems.
We have also seen positive movement on education and training standards for new professionals entering the trucking workforce.
I applaud the strong collaboration between stakeholders and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) on the recently released entry level driver training (ELDT) rule.
The ELDT negotiated rulemaking brought stakeholders together with the government to broaden theoretical and behind-the-wheel training metrics for drivers.
I hope to see more joint efforts like this in the future.
I am also proud of the work Congress has done to improve trucking safety in the 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act.
My legislation, the TRUCK Safety Reform Act, which was included in the FAST Act, reformed the often controversial and obscure regulatory process at the FMCSA to improve outcomes for all stakeholders.
Because of this measure, the FMCSA now needs to conduct a more transparent, inclusive, and responsive regulatory process with stronger cost-benefit analysis.
Data and methodology transparency will lead to rules that actually benefit safety.
Unfortunately, robust analysis has not always been a priority for the FMCSA. Just last week the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) released a longstanding study on the efficacy of the 2013 Hours of Service rulemaking. This rule mandated that drivers rest at night, effectively pushing truck traffic onto our roads during the early morning commuting hours. The DOT study concluded it could not demonstrate the 2013 hours of service rule provided “a greater net benefit for the operational, safety, health and fatigue impacts.”
This example demonstrates the need to have safeguards in place to avoid ideologically driven rulemakings moving forward.
Because of these reforms, those seeking safety changes will have more clarity from the agency. FMCSA must now prioritize and respond to stakeholder petitions in a timely fashion, based on the likelihood of safety improvements.
This is good governance. It will lead to better outcomes, and, ultimately, greater safety in America’s transportation network.
The FAST Act also included measures to correct FMCSA’s flawed truck safety scoring system, known as the Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) program.
For example, in January 2015 in Cincinnati, Ohio, there was an incident in which a bridge collapsed on a truck. The CSA system counted this event as the fault of the truck driver. Obviously, the carrier was not at fault in this instance.
Thanks to FAST Act reforms, carriers and their customers will now have more confidence in this critical safety scoring program.
Today’s hearing is a great opportunity to examine how we can improve highway safety through greater innovation, more collaboration between public and private sector stakeholders, and better data and analysis.
I now turn to my colleague and Ranking Member Senator Cory Booker for his opening remarks.
Witness Panel 1
The Honorable Christopher A. HartChairmanNational Transportation Safety Board
Captain Chris TurnerKansas City Highway Patrol and Vice President of Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance
Dr. Paul P. JovanisProfessor Emeritus, Pennsylvania State UniversityChair, Transportation Research Board Committee
Mr. Jerry MoyesChairman EmeritusSwift Transportation
Dr. Adrian LundPresidentInsurance Institute for Highway Safety