Rockefeller Says Transportation Bill Will Protect Motorists and Save Lives

June 28, 2012

SCom: TransportationWASHINGTON, D.C.— Chairman John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV today issued the following statement on a reauthorization agreement of the nation’s federal surface transportation programs: 

“This surface transportation bill is critical to helping restore our nation’s roads, bridges, and highways,” said Rockefeller. “When we passed the bipartisan Senate reauthorization bill in March, we sought to make America’s passenger vehicles and surface transportation infrastructure safer and more efficient. As a conferee and Chairman of the Committee responsible for making our transportation system safer, I believe we’ve ultimately reached a policy that brings the United States into the 21st century. It takes important steps to end distracted driving and protect all motorists. It ensures companies that violate safety obligations will be held accountable. And children and parents will benefit from improved safety standards.

“While no major Conference Report is perfect, I’m disappointed that some critical vehicle safety provisions in the Senate’s two-year surface transportation bill were rejected outright by House Republicans. These safety provisions would have gone a long way toward saving lives and preventing accidents. We should have taken full advantage of this opportunity to make our cars safer. Protecting consumers and saving lives are not ideological issues and I’m troubled that we weren’t able to include more of the Senate provisions.”

The major surface transportation, safety, and freight provisions of this legislation would:

  • Improve and establish National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) grant programs to address long-standing and emerging driving issues, such as distracted and impaired driving and driver licensing for teens; enhance NHTSA’s enforcement authority; mandate lifesaving new child safety standards; and strengthen the agency’s expertise in advanced technologies;
  • Modernize the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) approach to truck and bus safety by increasing the use of technology and data to drive enforcement efforts; ensure that only the safest truck and bus drivers are authorized to drive on our highways; improve the safety laws and regulations that govern drivers and vehicles that operate in the industry; and enhance FMCSA’s authority to oversee the truck, bus, and household goods movers industries; and
  • Increase the safety and oversight of the hazardous materials being transported through our nation’s transportation networks by creating a uniform set of standards for training of hazmat inspectors, increase the civil penalties for safety violations, and establish a study of the safety of existing hazmat special permits.