WASHINGTON — It is an exciting time to be working in the transportation sector, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Deputy Administrator Cathy F. Gautreaux said last week.
“Our roads and highways are filled with commercial motor vehicles that drive our goods and family members across the nation, keeping our commerce strong,” Gautreaux said in an address at the 97th annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board’s FMCSA Analysis, Research and Technology Forum. “With rapid advances in technology and a rare bipartisan consensus about the infrastructure, we are primed to do great things.”
Accentuating her comment about excitement Gautreaux noted that Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao had outlined the Department of Transportation’s top three priorities to continue to strengthen the country.
“First, safety must always be No.1,” Gautreaux said, quoting Chao. “Second, we will address our country’s crumbling infrastructure and third, we will prepare for the future by encouraging innovation.”
Gautreaux said encouraging innovation is especially important because transportation is on the verge of one of the most transformational eras in history.
“I have witnessed the evolution of the industry from economic to safety regulation over the last 32 years,” she said. “Technology is the next frontier. We are on the cusp of revolutionary changes in the way we move both people and freight, and I am excited for what the future holds. That’s why I am looking forward to the several projects we are working on that are related to driver assisted technologies.”
Gautreaux then listed the projects:
These projects include:
Gautreaux said she expected work on these projects to move forward this year and 2019.
On another topic, Gautreaux called the electronic logging device mandate a success.
“We trained with our partners to make sure everyone felt comfortable and prepared to enforce the new requirement that drivers use this technology,which will reduce incidence of driver fatigue and save lives, without impeding commerce,” she said.
Gautreaux said that while she was excited about all the technological and other tools to achieve FMCSA’s mission, all too often progress is hampered, not by a lack of will or lack of resources, but by the many regulatory hurdles that must be cleared.
“The private sector is ready and eager to invest in infrastructure, experiment with advanced technologies, and grow their businesses in the process,” she said, but quickly adding that regulatory or permitting barriers can delay projects without providing concrete benefits to safety, the environment, or other concerns. Without compromising safety or a change in our mission, we at FMCSA must look for ways to reduce regulatory burdens on industry whenever and wherever possible.”
On a negative note, Gautreaux noted that after many years of improvement, highway fatalities have started to increase.
“The large truck occupant fatalities showed an 8.6 percent increase from 2015 to 2016, which shows that we have much work to do to decrease those rates” she said. “Saving lives and preventing crashes is job one for FMCSA. Utilizing 21st century transportation technology is a bright part of our future that will make us the envy of the world.”