WASHINGTON — FMCSA Administrator Ray Martinez told a U.S. House panel Tuesday that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has made great strides in safety, noting that of the almost 300,000 driver inspections conducted on the “hard” ELD enforcement date April 1, less than 1 percent failed to have an ELD.
The agency, he said, regulates more than half a million interstate motor carriers and nearly 4.7 million CDL-holders.
Unfortunately, he told members of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, much more needs to be done, citing 37,461 deaths in crashes in 2016, an estimated 2,000 over 2015.
In fact, fatalities increased from 2015 to 2016 in all segments of the population, including occupants of large trucks. There were 4,317 fatalities in crashes involving large trucks in 2016, 5.4 percent more than in 2015 and the highest number since 2007, Martinez said.
He said FMCSA will work to bring those numbers down and will continue to hold motor carriers accountable, promote knowledgeable drivers, ensure vehicles are well maintained and encourage innovations in “sound technology to advance highway safety.”
Among the agency’s accomplishments, he listed two 90-day temporary ELD waivers for agricultural industries; more than 550 educational outreach efforts on ELD requirements; and making it easier for military veterans to transition into civilian truck driving careers, including waiving the skills test for military personnel with experience operating heavy vehicles in the service.
He said more than 23,000 current and former military veterans have taken advantage of the waiver.
Martinez said FMCSA is also working to finalize a rulemaking to establish a training program for qualified providers at the Veterans Administration to be certified to give CMV drivers medical exams.
He also mentioned FMCSA’s “under 21” pilot program to allow qualified 18-,19- or 20-year-old drivers with training and experience in certain military occupations to operate CMVs in interstate commerce.
Last but not least, Martinez said the agency is working with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration in an effort to responsibly bring automated vehicles to the nation’s highways, noting that FMCSA’s Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee had met last summer and will issue recommendations later this year.
The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only TheTrucker.com, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.