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ATA to Congress: Trucking’s Safety Investments are Working

Date: 29.01.2015 / to news list


   In testimony today before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation’s subcommittee on surface transportation, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) told the Congressional panel that its industry is proud of the difference the estimated $7 billion in safety-related investment has made in reducing crashes and fatalities on the nation’s highways.

   “The trucking industry is justifiably proud of its commitment to safety,” said Jim Mullen, executive vice president and general counsel of Werner Enterprises, Speaking on behalf of the ATA, Mullen said, “These investments in safety have yielded impressive dividends for the industry. Over the past decade, the number of large truck-related fatalities has dropped 21 percent and the large truck fatality rate has dropped 37 percent.

   “Together, Werner Enterprises and the approximately 500,000 other carriers who comprise the industry invest over an estimated $7 billion in safety annually,” Mullen told the panel. “At Werner alone we spend $40 million on safety — some of it to meet a myriad of regulatory requirements — but much of it on voluntary, progressive safety initiatives.

   He said these voluntary measures include the adoption of emerging crash prevention technology such as forward collision warning and lane departure devices. He said Werner will spend about $6 million on these systems this year alone, with about half it its fleet to be equipped with the technology in 2015.

   And Mullen specifically cited investments in progressive safety technology and driver training as helping to lower Werner’s preventable crashes by 22 percent between 2007 and 2014.

   However, he called on the federal government to do more to focus on the primary causes of crashes in order to build on trucking’s already strong safety record.

   “The trucking industry has a strong commitment to safety and an impressive record to show for it,” Mullen said. “Continued improvement will require a focus on the primary causes of crashes, especially driver behavior, and incentives for the voluntary adoption of progressive safety programs.”

   Among the solutions Mullen told Congress the government should consider were:

  • Advancing a long awaited rule requiring the use of speed limiters on large trucks
  • Shifting from a vehicle-centric roadside inspection enforcement model to a more effective model centered on on-road traffic enforcement and driver behavior
  • Incentives for the use of crash avoidance technology like lane departure warning systems and forward collision warning systems
  • Timely publication of a strong and appropriate mandate for electronic logging devices
  • Developing robust driver training rules focusing on performance and comprehension, not hours of education
  • Reworking the Compliance, Safety, Accountability system to better focus on truly high-risk carriers, specifically by re-examining the role of crash data in CSA scores
  • Congress must carefully monitor the ongoing studies of the suspended changes to the hours-of-service restart rules.

 

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