[Senate Hearing 115-61]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
S. Hrg. 115-61
CONTINUING TO IMPROVE TRUCK SAFETY
ON OUR NATION'S HIGHWAYS
SUBCOMMITTEE ON SURFACE TRANSPORTATION
AND MERCHANT MARINE INFRASTRUCTURE,
SAFETY AND SECURITY
COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE,
SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION
UNITED STATES SENATE
ONE HUNDRED FIFTEENTH CONGRESS
MARCH 14, 2017
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SENATE COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION
ONE HUNDRED FIFTEENTH CONGRESS
JOHN THUNE, South Dakota, Chairman
ROGER F. WICKER, Mississippi BILL NELSON, Florida, Ranking
ROY BLUNT, Missouri MARIA CANTWELL, Washington
TED CRUZ, Texas AMY KLOBUCHAR, Minnesota
DEB FISCHER, Nebraska RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, Connecticut
JERRY MORAN, Kansas BRIAN SCHATZ, Hawaii
DAN SULLIVAN, Alaska EDWARD MARKEY, Massachusetts
DEAN HELLER, Nevada CORY BOOKER, New Jersey
JAMES INHOFE, Oklahoma TOM UDALL, New Mexico
MIKE LEE, Utah GARY PETERS, Michigan
RON JOHNSON, Wisconsin TAMMY BALDWIN, Wisconsin
SHELLEY MOORE CAPITO, West Virginia TAMMY DUCKWORTH, Illinois
CORY GARDNER, Colorado MAGGIE HASSAN, New Hampshire
TODD YOUNG, Indiana CATHERINE CORTEZ MASTO, Nevada
Nick Rossi, Staff Director
Adrian Arnakis, Deputy Staff Director
Jason Van Beek, General Counsel
Kim Lipsky, Democratic Staff Director
Chris Day, Democratic Deputy Staff Director
Renae Black, Senior Counsel
SUBCOMMITTEE ON SURFACE TRANSPORTATION AND MERCHANT MARINE
INFRASTRUCTURE, SAFETY AND SECURITY
DEB FISCHER, Nebraska, Chairman CORY BOOKER, New Jersey, Ranking
ROGER F. WICKER, Mississippi MARIA CANTWELL, Washington
ROY BLUNT, Missouri AMY KLOBUCHAR, Minnesota
DEAN HELLER, Nevada RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, Connecticut
JAMES INHOFE, Oklahoma TOM UDALL, New Mexico
RON JOHNSON, Wisconsin TAMMY BALDWIN, Wisconsin
SHELLEY MOORE CAPITO, West Virginia TAMMY DUCKWORTH, Illinois
CORY GARDNER, Colorado MAGGIE HASSAN, New Hampshire
TODD YOUNG, Indiana
C O N T E N T S
Hearing held on March 14, 2017................................... 1
Statement of Senator Fischer..................................... 1
Letter dated March 13, 2017 to Hon. Deb Fischer, Chair, and
Hon. Cory Booker, Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Surface
Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety,
and Security, Committee on Commerce, Science, and
Transportation, from Jacqueline S. Gillan, President, and
Joan Claybrook, Consumer Co-Chair, former Administrator,
NHTSA, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates)... 41
Letter dated March 13, 2017 to Hon. Deb Fischer, Chairman,
and Hon. Cory Booker, Ranking Member, Subcommittee on
Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure,
Safety, and Security, Committee on Commerce, Science, and
Transportation, from Nathaniel Wienecke, Senior Vice
President, Federal Government Relations, Property Casualty
Letter dated March 14, 2017 to Hon. Deb Fischer, Chair and
Hon. Cory Booker, Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Surface
Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety,
and Security, Committee on Commerce, Science, and
Transportation, from Lane Chandler Kidd, Managing Director,
Alliance for Driver Safety & Security (The Trucking
Statement of Senator Booker...................................... 3
Statement of Senator Blumenthal.................................. 48
Statement of Senator Wicker...................................... 49
Statement of Senator Hassan...................................... 51
Statement of Senator Klobuchar................................... 53
Statement of Senator Capito...................................... 56
Statement of Senator Thune....................................... 58
Statement of Senator Duckworth................................... 61
Hon. Christopher A. Hart, Chairman, National Transportation
Safety Board................................................... 5
Prepared statement........................................... 6
Chris Turner, Captain, Kansas City Highway Patrol, and Vice
President, Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance.................. 14
Prepared statement........................................... 15
Paul P. Jovanis, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Pennsylvania State
University, and Chair, Transportation Research Board Motor
Carrier Safety Research Analysis Committee..................... 21
Prepared statement........................................... 23
Jerry Moyes, Chairman Emeritus, Swift Transportation Company..... 27
Prepared statement........................................... 29
Adrian K. Lund, Ph.D., President, Insurance Institute for Highway
Prepared statement........................................... 32
CONTINUING TO IMPROVE TRUCK SAFETY
ON OUR NATION'S HIGHWAYS
TUESDAY, MARCH 14, 2017
Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and
Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security,
Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation,
The Subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 2:31 p.m. in
room SR-253, Russell Senate Office Building, Hon. Deb Fischer,
Chairman of the Subcommittee, presiding.
Present: Senators Fischer [presiding], Booker, Wicker,
Capito, Young, Thune, Cantwell, Klobuchar, Blumenthal, Hassan,
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. DEB FISCHER,
U.S. SENATOR FROM NEBRASKA
The Chairman. Good afternoon and welcome. I would like to
call the hearing to order, please. I thank you all for being
here today for a second hearing of the Surface Transportation
and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security
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 multimodal
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 7
million Americans are employed in the trucking sector. In
Nebraska, trucking employs 1 out of every 12 workers,
representing nearly 63,000 people.
I am pleased that commercial vehicle operators have made
significant investments in safety. According to estimates by
the American Trucking Association, 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
I applaud the strong collaboration between stakeholders and
the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on the recently
released entry-level driver training rule.
The ELDT-negotiated rulemaking brought stakeholders
together with the government to broaden theoretical and behind-
the-wheel training metrics for drivers, and 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 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, 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 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 stakeholders' 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 Program. For example, in January
2015 in Cincinnati, Ohio, there was an incident where 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 the FAST Act reforms, carriers and their
customers will now have more confidence in this critical safety
Today's hearing is a great opportunity to examine how we
can improve highway safety through greater innovation, more
collaboration between our public and private stakeholders, and
better data and analysis.
And I would now ask my colleague and friend, Ranking Member
Senator Cory Booker, if he would like to make comments.
STATEMENT OF HON. CORY BOOKER,
U.S. SENATOR FROM NEW JERSEY
Senator Booker. Thank you very much, Chairman Fischer. This
is an important hearing, and I am grateful for all of those who
are assembled here.
And, Dr. Lund, I hear you're retiring. Sir, I'm sure that
the Lord looks upon you and says, ``Well done, my good and
faithful servant.'' This is not an obituary, however, so I'll
move on with my comments.
Senator Booker. I think Chairman Fischer has done a great
job of really emphasizing how vital this trucking industry is
to our national economy. It is producing so many quality jobs.
Trucks move a considerable amount of freight tonnage through
the United States, creating vital links between people,
businesses, and really helping our Nation to thrive.
Trucks add a whopping 10 billion tons of freight, more than
$700 billion in freight revenues. However, the importance of
trucking means that millions of trucks are traveling billions
of miles on our roads every single year. It means that
thousands and thousands of accidents are occurring as well.
This has resulted in actually seeing tremendous amounts of
truck-related deaths, about 4,000 deaths, and 100,000 people
injured, every year. In 2015 alone, about 4,067 people were
killed in crashes involving trucks, the highest fatality since
2008. And I know we have some victims' families that are here
As the economy has improved, highway deaths that relate and
include truck-related crashes actually have been rising. This
is a problem that's not getting better; it's not even stable.
Unfortunately, we're seeing a frightening increase.
According to the National Safety Council, preliminary data
for 2016 estimates as many as 40,000 died in motor vehicle
crashes last year. That increase is actually an increase of 6
percent over 2015 and a 14 percent increase in 2014. Again, the
trend lines are moving in a frightening direction.
And each one of these deaths, each one of the people killed
or injured, these represent not data, not statistics, these are
real families being shattered by these incidents. This is a
trend that we need to do something about, and I believe we need
to take action.
I've actually learned a lot as a Ranking Member on this
Committee. There are some good folks looking to try to make a
difference in this area, from trucking companies themselves all
the way to individuals who are activists in this area. This is
clearly not a Republican or Democratic area issue. We need to
come together to find solutions. We need to find ways to fix
I believe there are some real steps we can take to address
this trend. For example, in 2014, an unfortunate tragic
incident occurred in New Jersey on the New Jersey Turnpike,
killing one person and severely injuring others. Analysis shows
that the truck was traveling 20 miles per hour over the speed
limit, and the driver was very close to hitting their daily
hours of service. The driver was tired and heading to a
construction zone when he failed to brake for stopped traffic
ahead of him.
The crash highlights a lot of critical issues that we could
be taking and things we could probably do to prevent these
tragedies, from investing in new technologies and new
innovations that help trucks stop, also to having rules that
keep truck drivers from pushing the bounds of human endurance
during their work.
We need to get the best of technology into trucks,
something I've learned a lot since I've been serving on this
subcommittee, where some in the industry are leading and some
are lagging. We need to make sure we are doing everything we
can to help trucks automatically brake, even when the driver
might be tired or distracted.
We need to prevent these tired or impaired drivers from
getting behind the wheel full stop. We have to have only the
safest trucks on the road, and that means proper inspections,
not having faulty brakes or letting longer, heavier trucks onto
our highways. What we don't need are roadblocks and exemptions
that make our highways less safe.
While most drivers and companies--and I've been very
encouraged by this--do prioritize safety, we continue to have
very serious problems on our highways. Collectively, as a
nation, we can't just tolerate, we can't just accept, such high
levels of carnage on our highways. This can't be normalized. We
should be committed, as a country, to having much better road
So rolling back the rules, those that are illogical--I
agree with my Chairperson, I do not think a bridge falling on
somebody's head is the truck driver's fault. Rolling back
nonsensical rules I fully support, but we need to make sure we
do this in an intelligently driven way and that we are
aggressive in the protection of our highways and protection of
individuals and families.
We have real hard work to do. Clearly, the urgency is upon
us. That means having an open and honest dialogue about the
impacts of these issues and really understanding the long-term
impacts of our actions.
Again, I'm grateful to be serving as a Ranking Member with
the Chairman. I'm really committed to this issue. And I'm
grateful that you all are assembled here today to talk about
something that clearly for American families, businesses, and
especially those who have lost loved ones, this is a very, very
The Chairman. Thank you, Senator Booker.
With that, I would like to welcome our panel of witnesses
today. And we will begin with the Honorable Christopher A.
Hart, who is Chairman of the National Transportation Safety
The Honorable Christopher Hart was appointed as Chairman of
the Board in 2015. In addition to his work at the NTSB, he has
served in a number of other safety roles at the National
Highway Transportation Safety Administration and the Federal
So welcome, sir, if you would like to give your opening
STATEMENT OF HON. CHRISTOPHER A. HART, CHAIRMAN, NATIONAL
TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD
Mr. Hart. Thank you very much. Good afternoon, Chairman
Fischer, Ranking Member Booker, and members of the
Subcommittee. Thank you for inviting me to testify on behalf of
the NTSB today. I appreciate Congress's continued attention to
improving safety on our Nation's roadways.
Crashes on our roadways claimed more than 35,000 lives in
2015, with more than 4,000 killed in crashes involving large
trucks, as you've already heard from the introductory
statements. That represents 4.1 percent more deaths than in
2014, and the most lives lost in truck-involved crashes since
2008, as Ranking Member Booker mentioned.
In our investigations of commercial truck crashes, we see
issues that are focused on our Most Wanted List of
transportation safety improvements. One example is distraction.
On May 28, 2013, a truck that did not stop at a grade crossing
in Rosedale, Maryland, was struck by a train, causing a
derailment and a post-crash fire. The truck driver was
seriously injured, and three others sustained minor injuries.
Among the probable causes was the driver's distraction due to a
hands-free cell phone conversation.
Another persistent issue is substance impairment. On
September 26, 2014, near Davis, Oklahoma, a truck crossed a
median and collided with a bus that was transporting a college
softball team from Texas, resulting in four fatalities,
including the truck driver. The probable cause was the truck
driver's incapacitation that was likely due to synthetic drugs.
On June 7, 2014, a truck encountered nearly stopped traffic
in a work zone near Cranbury, New Jersey--this is the accident
that Ranking Member Booker was referring to--and struck a limo
van due to the truck driver's fatigue and excessive speed,
causing a multi-vehicle crash that resulted in one death. That
truck driver had been awake, he was in compliance with the rest
and duty time rules, but he had been awake 28 hours prior to
This crash reinforced the importance of fatigue management
programs, not just rest and duty time rules, but fatigue
management programs, as well as collision avoidance systems and
the need for carriers to collect and analyze data that are
available to onboard critical event recording systems. These
and other crashes could have been prevented by the use of
available safety technologies and by improved oversight of the
performance of commercial drivers and the condition of
commercial vehicles by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety
Many of our investigations identified shortcomings in FMCSA
oversight of commercial truck operations. We found instances in
which deficiencies in the compliance review program allowed
companies with serious safety programs to continue operating.
The NTSB acknowledges FMCSA's efforts to improve oversight,
but the task is enormous and the resources are very limited.
Therefore, it is critical that FMCSA employ a data-driven,
risk-based approach to oversight responsibilities and address
the highest risk carriers as well as the highest risk drivers
and vehicles in order to remove unsafe operators from our
The FMCSA's Compliance, Safety, and Accountability Program
that was referred to, CSA Program, must be completed with a
risk-based intervention approach for safety fitness
We understand the desire to ensure that inspection and
violation data represent the full picture of safety, but
prolonged deferral of a safety fitness determination final rule
will continue to allow unsafe, high-risk carriers to operate
without intervention, posing significant risk to the motoring
public and to those who live or work along commercial trucking
Carriers must move beyond regulatory compliance and
proactively identify operational hazards and potential
solutions. Many such solutions are widely available in the form
of lifesaving technologies.
For decades, NTSB has been recommending technologies on all
commercial trucks that, if used, would save lives and prevent
crashes. These include forward-collision avoidance systems,
speed-limiting devices, electronic logging devices, and event
data recorders, as you heard in the Chairman's comments. These
technologies are among many that can improve safety, and we
believe carriers should voluntarily adopt them to enhance the
safety of their operations and the safety of the traveling
Improving the safety of commercial truck operations will
save lives and improve public confidence in this vital and
visible industry. This is a multifaceted issue involving
vehicles, companies, drivers, regulatory agencies, and
Congress. Any effort to strengthen commercial trucking safety
must be collaborative in order to be successful, and the
Chairman mentioned several examples of that collaboration.
So I appreciate your interest in these issues. Thank you
for the opportunity to testify. I would be happy to take any
questions you might have. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Hart follows:]
Prepared Statement Hon. Christopher A. Hart, Chairman,
National Transportation Safety Board
Good afternoon Chairman Fischer, Ranking Member Booker, and the
Members of the Subcommittee. Thank you for inviting the National
Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to testify before you today.
The NTSB is an independent Federal agency charged by Congress with
investigating every civil aviation accident and significant incidents
in the United States and significant accidents and incidents in other
modes of transportation--highway, rail, marine, and pipeline. The NTSB
determines the probable cause of accidents and other transportation
events and issues safety recommendations aimed at preventing future
accidents. In addition, the NTSB carries out special studies concerning
transportation safety and coordinates the resources of the Federal
government and other organizations assisting victims and their family
members impacted by major transportation disasters.
Since its inception, the NTSB has investigated more than 1,400
highway accidents, including accidents that involved commercial trucks.
On call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, NTSB highway investigators
travel throughout the country to investigate significant accidents and
develop factual records and safety recommendations with one aim--to
ensure that such accidents never happen again.
To date, we have issued more than 2,400 safety recommendations as a
result of highway accident investigations, with approximately 80
percent adopted or implemented. Because we have no authority to
regulate the transportation industries, our effectiveness depends on
our reputation for conducting thorough, accurate, and independent
investigations and for producing timely, well-considered
recommendations to enhance transportation safety.
On November 14, 2016, the NTSB announced its Most Wanted List of
transportation safety improvements for 2017-2018.\1\ This list
identifies our top 10 areas for transportation safety improvements. We
develop our Most Wanted List based on safety issues we identify as a
result of our accident investigations. While we removed ``Strengthen
Commercial Trucking Safety'' from our 2016 Most Wanted List, our 2017-
2018 priority areas include seven items that affect the safety of
commercial trucking operations:
\1\ National Transportation Safety Board, 2017-2018 Most Wanted
List (Washington, D.C.: National Transportation Safety Board, 2016).
Increase Implementation of Collision Avoidance Technologies
Expand Recorder Use to Enhance Safety
End Alcohol and Other Drug Impairment in Transportation
Require Medical Fitness
Strengthen Occupant Protection
Reduce Fatigue Related Accidents
Each of these Most Wanted List issues emphasizes the need for
critical actions by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), the
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), states, manufacturers,
operators, associations, and others. Commercial trucking is integral to
our economy, yet crashes, injuries, and deaths involving commercial
trucks have been increasing over the past several years. In 2015 alone,
more than 4,000 people were killed in crashes involving large trucks,
4.1 percent more fatalities than in 2014, and the highest since
2008.\2\ Our 2017-2018 Most Wanted List demonstrates that more needs to
be done to ensure the safety of commercial truck operations.
\2\ National Center for Statistics and Analysis, 2015 Motor Vehicle
Crashes: Overview, Report No. DOT HS 812 318 (Washington, D.C.:
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2016).
Commercial trucking safety gained national media attention on June
7, 2014 when comedian Tracy Morgan was critically injured and another
passenger died in a crash in Cranbury, New Jersey.\3\ The limousine bus
in which they were traveling was struck by a truck-tractor and
semitrailer combination vehicle, due to the truck driver's fatigue and
excessive speed. While it was the uncommon involvement of a celebrity
that focused national attention on this crash, crashes involving
commercial trucks are all too common.
\3\ National Transportation Safety Board, Multivehicle Work Zone
Crash on Interstate 95 in Cranbury, New Jersey on June 7, 2014, Rpt.
No. HAR-15/02 (Washington, D.C.: National Transportation Safety Board,
Other NTSB investigations completed in the past four years
involving commercial trucks include:
On June 25, 2015, a truck-tractor in combination with a
semitrailer collided with the rear of several cars on
Interstate 75 in a work-zone, near Chattanooga, Tennessee. Of
the 18 vehicle occupants, six died and four were injured. Our
investigation determined the probable cause of the crash to be
the truck driver's fatigue, drug use, and excessive speed.\4\
\4\ National Transportation Safety Board, Multivehicle Work Zone
Crash on Interstate 75 in Chattanooga, Tennessee on June 25, 2015, Rpt.
No. HAR-16/01 (Washington, D.C.: National Transportation Safety Board,
On September 26, 2014, a truck-tractor in combination with a
semitrailer crossed a median and collided with a 32-passenger-
size bus--transporting 15 members of a college softball team--
near Davis, Oklahoma, resulting in four fatalities. We
determined that the probable cause of this accident was the
truck driver's incapacitation likely due to his use of
\5\ National Transportation Safety Board, Truck-Tractor Semitrailer
Median Crossover Collision with Medium-Size Bus on Interstate 35 in
Davis, Oklahoma on September 26, 2014, Rpt. No. HAR-15/03 (Washington,
D.C.: National Transportation Safety Board, 2015).
On April 10, 2014, a tractor-trailer crossed a median and
collided with a motorcoach in Orland, California, that took 10
lives and injured 40 others. Our investigation into the
probable cause of this accident was impeded by the lack of an
event data recorder.\6\
\6\ National Transportation Safety Board, Truck-Tractor Double
Trailer Median Crossover Collision with Motorcoach and Postcrash Fire
on Interstate 5 in Orland, California on April 10, 2014, Rpt. No. HAR-
15/01 (Washington, D.C.: National Transportation Safety Board, 2015).
On May 28, 2013, a three-axle roll-off straight truck did
not stop at a highway-railroad grade crossing in Rosedale,
Maryland and was struck by a freight train, causing a
derailment. A postcrash fire resulted in an explosion that
shattered windows and damaged property as far as approximately
one-half mile from the site. The truck driver was seriously
injured in the collision, and three others received minor
injuries as a result of the explosion. Among the probable
causes of the accident were the truck driver's distraction due
to a hands-free cell phone conversation and inadequate
oversight of the carrier by the FMCSA.\7\
\7\ National Transportation Safety Board, Highway-Railroad Grade
Crossing Collision in Rosedale, Maryland on May 28, 2013, Rpt. No. HAR-
14/02 (Washington, D.C.: National Transportation Safety Board, 2014).
On March 3, 2013, truck-tractor in combination with a
semitrailer struck the rear of an SUV and pushed it into
another passenger vehicle on Interstate 65, near Elizabethtown,
Kentucky. A postcrash fire ensued, killing six of the SUV's
eight occupants. A review of the truck driver's logbook
indicated that he had driven beyond the legal hours of service
and was likely fatigued at the time of the crash.\8\
\8\ NTSB public docket (HWY13FH008).
The NTSB has a long history of calling on the regulators, the FMCSA
and NHTSA, to improve their oversight of operators, drivers, and
vehicles. It starts with improving the system for determining a
trucking company's safety compliance, including both driver and vehicle
factors. Stronger oversight is needed to ensure that carriers address
any safety deficiencies in a timely manner and are swiftly placed out
of service if they fail to improve. To address vehicle factors,
regulators must promote proper fleet maintenance and proven life-saving
technology. Vehicle inspections should be required during compliance
reviews, and vehicle safety equipment and technology, such as collision
avoidance systems, should be mandated across the entire industry.
Oversight of Commercial Truck Operations
Many of our investigations have identified shortcomings in the
FMCSA's oversight of commercial truck operations. We have found
instances in which deficiencies in the FMCSA compliance review program
allowed companies with serious safety problems to continue operations.
The NTSB readily acknowledges the FMCSA's efforts to make improvements
to its oversight of commercial truck operations. Yet, the crashes that
the NTSB investigates attest to the fact that more oversight
improvements and additional resources are needed to prevent future
crashes involving commercial trucks.
The two most important areas related to safe motor carrier
operations are the performance of drivers and the condition of
vehicles. The NTSB believes that the FMCSA should emphasize both of
these critical elements in its compliance reviews and disqualify an
operator that receives an unsatisfactory rating in either vehicle or
driver areas. The current compliance review process is inadequate and
limits the FMCSA's ability to remove unsafe carriers from our highways
before they are involved in catastrophic crashes.
In 2013, the NTSB investigated four commercial motor vehicle
crashes, which together resulted in 25 deaths and 83 injuries. Data
collected for each motor carrier presented ``red flags'' that should
have led to strong intervention by the FMCSA. In each case, FMCSA
safety investigators had visited the company prior to the crash and
given it a clean bill of health. Immediately following each crash--and
after an NTSB investigation--the FMCSA found significant safety
deficiencies. In three of the four cases, declared the company an
imminent hazard, and placed it out of service. As a result of these
NTSB investigations, we made two recommendations to the DOT in November
2013 to conduct an internal audit of the FMCSA's compliance review
\9\ H-13-039 and -040, November 5, 2013.
On February 3, 2014, the DOT convened an independent review team
(IRT) comprised of members of the DOT's Safety Council to conduct a
review of the FMCSA's compliance review process. NTSB leaders met with
IRT members on several occasions to assist them in their review. The
final report was released on July 15, 2014.\10\ Among its
recommendations to the FMCSA, the IRT urged that it make changes to the
Compliance, Safety, Accountability Program (CSA), improve the Safety
Measurement System (SMS), and move beyond a compliance-centric
enforcement model. The IRT report provided actionable information in
response to our recommendations, but it also provided insights and
perspectives on other ways the FMCSA can improve motor carrier safety.
\10\ Independent Review Team Appointed by the Secretary of
Transportation, Blueprint for Safety Leadership: Aligning Enforcement
and Risk (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Transportation, 2014).
The IRT report confirmed that the FMCSA needs to better align
compliance and enforcement processes with the safety risks that cause
crashes. We recognize that the CSA program is designed to do that, but
it has been only partially implemented. In some instances, compliance
reviews focus on issues quite different from those that may have
triggered the need for greater scrutiny. This disconnect affects the
FMCSA's everyday operations.
The FMCSA's safety fitness determination (SFD) rulemaking is
intended to remedy this disconnect. On January 21, 2016, the FMCSA
published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), ``Carrier Safety
Fitness Determination,'' proposing to amend the Federal Motor Carrier
Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) to revise the current methodology for
issuing SFDs for motor carriers and rely more on roadside inspection
and violation data in the SMS rather than on-site compliance
reviews.\11\ The proposed new methodologies would result in an SFD
based on the carrier's SMS data in five of the seven Behavior Analysis
and Safety Improvement Categories (BASIC) (unsafe driving, crash
indicator, hours of service compliance, vehicle maintenance, controlled
substances/alcohol, hazardous materials compliance, and driver
fitness), an investigation, or a combination of on-road safety data and
investigative information. In addition, the NPRM proposed to eliminate
the current three-tier rating system (i.e., satisfactory-conditional-
unsatisfactory) for determining safety fitness in favor of a single
determination of ``fit'' or ``unfit.'' SMS data for commercial truck
operations are an important risk-management tool, and, if made publicly
available, could provide the public with much-needed information about
the commercial truck operators that fail to meet safety requirements,
much like the FMCSA's ``SaferBus'' mobile application for bus
\11\ 81 Federal Register 3561.
The NTSB has long supported a risk-based intervention approach,
such as the proposed SFD rule, to identify those carriers that pose the
greatest risk to the motoring public. In 1999, we recommended that the
safety fitness rating methodology be changed so that adverse vehicle
and driver performance-based data alone are sufficient to result in an
overall unsatisfactory rating for the carrier.\12\ In 2012, following
the NTSB's investigation of a 15-fatality motorcoach crash in New York
City,\13\ we recommended that, as part of CSA, the FMCSA include SMS
rating scores in the methodology used to determine a carrier's fitness
to operate.\14\ The NTSB is very concerned that implementing the SFD
proposed rule could be delayed.
\12\ H-99-006, February 26, 1999.
\13\ National Transportation Safety Board, Motorcoach Run-Off-the-
Road and Collision With Vertical Highway Signpost on Interstate 95
Southbound in New York City, New York on March 12, 2011, Rpt. No. HAR-
12/01 (Washington, D.C.: National Transportation Safety Board, 2012).
\14\ H-12-017, July 12, 2012.
More than 17 years have passed since we first called attention to
problems with the FMCSA's compliance review process in 1999, and the
oversight program remains dysfunctional. The task facing the FMCSA is
enormous and its resources are limited; therefore, it is critical that
the FMCSA employ a data-driven approach to address the highest risk
motor carriers, drivers, and vehicles. Prolonged deferral of a SFD
final rule will allow many unsafe, high-risk carriers to operate on our
highways without intervention, posing a significant risk to the
Moving Beyond Compliance: Leveraging Technology
The NTSB believes that it is vitally important for the FMCSA to
move beyond its focus on conducting compliance reviews and embrace a
broader and more balanced portfolio of safety tools. Commercial
trucking is a diverse segment of the economy, and trucking companies
range from thousands of trucks to single-truck owner operators. The
FMCSA and NHTSA regulations establish minimum requirements, not the
gold standard. The NTSB has found that crashes happen even when an
operator is doing everything ``by the book.'' To manage their safety
risks, trucking companies must go beyond securing regulatory compliance
from all their employees, and proactively identify operational hazards
and potential solutions.
As required by the 2015 Fixing America's Surface Transportation
(FAST) Act,\15\ the FMCSA published a request for comments on April 20,
2016 on a proposed ``Beyond Compliance Program.'' \16\ The Beyond
Compliance Program would provide recognition, either through credit
recognized by a new Beyond Compliance BASIC or an improved SMS
percentile, for a motor carrier that: (1) installs advanced safety
equipment; (2) uses enhanced driver fitness measures; (3) adopts fleet
safety management tools, technologies, and programs; or (4) satisfies
other standards determined appropriate by the FMCSA. The Beyond
Compliance Program would incentivize a motor carrier to implement
programs or safety interventions that exceed the scope of regulatory
requirements and would improve the safety of commercial motor vehicles
and drivers operating on the Nation's highways.
\15\ Pub. L. 114-94, Section 5222.
\16\ 81 Federal Register 23351.
The NTSB commends the FMCSA for considering the development of a
program that looks beyond regulatory mandates to promote highway safety
and aims to speed the adoption of lifesaving technologies and safety
programs. Currently, many carriers voluntarily implement programs and
technologies to enhance the safety of their drivers and the traveling
public. A Beyond Compliance Program will reward such companies and
encourage others to adopt safer operating practices.
For decades, the NTSB has been investigating highway crashes and
making recommendations for technologies that, if implemented, would
save lives and prevent future crashes. These technologies include
forward collision avoidance systems, speed limiting devices, electronic
logging devices (ELDs), and event data recorders (EDRs). We believe
that forward collision avoidance systems and speed limiting devices
should be standard on all commercial trucks and have recommended that
NHTSA change the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) to
require them. In addition, we have called on the FMCSA to require motor
carriers to install ELDs and EDRs. These technologies are among many
that can improve commercial truck safety, and including them in a
Beyond Compliance Program would be a positive measure. However, the
NTSB expects that NHTSA and the FMCSA will continue their efforts to
mandate safety technologies so that ultimately those companies that are
unwilling to invest in safety voluntarily will be required to use these
proven technologies. While working toward requiring these technologies,
the FMCSA should also encourage their use through its Beyond Compliance
Forward Collision Avoidance Systems
``Increase Implementation of Collision Avoidance Technologies'' is
one of the safety improvement issues on our 2017-2018 Most Wanted List,
and was carried over from 2016.\17\ Broad deployment of forward
collision avoidance systems in commercial trucks is necessary to reduce
the severity of rear-end crashes. These technologies act as a fail-
safe, helping to compensate for driver error, inattention, fatigue or
just bad decision making. Forward collision avoidance systems typically
consist of (1) collision warning that alerts a driver of the impending
crash, and (2) autonomous emergency braking (AEB) that automatically
applies brakes. Collision avoidance technologies can reduce fatalities
and injuries over the long term. In 2012, NHTSA predicted that AEB
(meeting certain requirements) could prevent 13,000 to 28,000 minor
injuries and 500 to 700 serious injuries from rear-end crashes, and
could save as many as 65 lives each year.\18\
\17\ National Transportation Safety Board, Increase Implementation
of Collision Avoidance Technologies (Washington, D.C.: National
Transportation Safety Board, 2016).
\18\ National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Forward-
Looking Advanced Braking Technologies Research Report (Washington,
D.C.: U.S. Department of Transportation, 2014).
The NTSB has long encouraged technological countermeasures to
prevent or mitigate crashes. We made our first recommendation
pertaining to collision avoidance technologies in 1995 and asked the
DOT to begin testing collision warning systems within commercial motor
carrier fleets.\19\ Due to a lack of progress in addressing this issue,
this recommendation was classified ``Closed--Unacceptable Action'' in
1999. In 2001, we released a special investigative report (SIR) that
focused on how collision avoidance technologies could mitigate or
prevent passenger and commercial vehicle rear-end crashes.\20\ As a
result of the SIR's findings, we issued 10 recommendations pertaining
to collision avoidance technologies, including a recommendation that
NHTSA require that all new commercial vehicles be equipped with a
collision warning system after promulgating performance standards for
collision warning systems for commercial vehicles.\21\
\19\ H-95-044, December 13, 1995.
\20\ National Transportation Safety Board, Vehicle-and
Infrastructure-based Technology for the Prevention of Rear-End
Collisions, Rpt. No. SIR-01/01 (Washington, D.C.: National
Transportation Safety Board, 2001).
\21\ H-01-007, May 25, 2001.
We updated the SIR in 2015 due to a lack of progress in the
implementation of NTSB recommendations intended to mitigate or prevent
rear-end crashes, the recent technological advancements in collision
avoidance technologies, and the continued prevalence of rear-end
crashes.\22\ The 2015 report found that currently available forward
collision avoidance technologies for passenger and commercial vehicles
show clear benefits that could reduce rear-end crash fatalities.
However, more must be done to speed up deployment of these technologies
in all vehicle types. As a result of these findings, the NTSB made six
new recommendations, including calling upon NHTSA to expand or develop
protocols for the assessment of forward collision avoidance systems in
passenger and commercial vehicles, and calling upon manufacturers to
install forward collision avoidance systems as standard features on all
newly manufactured passenger and commercial motor vehicles.\23\ The
NTSB also issued a companion Safety Alert for consumers and commercial
fleet owners urging them to consider purchasing vehicles with collision
warning and autonomous emergency braking functions.\24\
\22\ National Transportation Safety Board, The Use of Forward
Collision Avoidance Systems to Prevent and Mitigate Rear-End Crashes,
Rpt. No. SIR-15/01 (Washington, D.C.: National Transportation Safety
\23\ H-15-005, H-15-008 and -009, June 8, 2015.
\24\ National Transportation Safety Board, Forward Collision
Avoidance Systems Can Save Lives, No. SA-046 (Washington, D.C.:
National Transportation Safety Board, 2015).
Commercial truck manufacturers and operators should not wait to be
required by regulators to equip and utilize heavy trucks with forward
collision avoidance systems. Rather, a Beyond Compliance Program could
provide incentive for operators to use such technologies in their
Speed Limiting Devices
On September 7, 2016, NHTSA and the FMCSA published a joint NPRM,
which proposed a new FMVSS requiring that each new multipurpose
passenger vehicle, truck, bus, or school bus with a gross vehicle
weight rating of more than 26,000 pounds be equipped with a speed
limiting device.\25\ The proposed FMVSS would also require each
vehicle, as manufactured and sold, to have its device set to a speed
not greater than a specified speed and to be equipped with means of
reading the vehicle's current speed setting and the two previous
settings through its On-Board Diagnostic connection. In addition, the
FMCSA is proposing a complementary FMCSR to require devices meeting the
requirements of the proposed FMVSS. Motor carriers operating such
vehicles in interstate commerce would be required to maintain the speed
limiting devices for the service life of the vehicle.
\25\ Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; Federal Motor Carrier
Safety Regulations; Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation;
Speed Limiting Devices, 81 Federal Register 61942.
Crashes, fatalities, and injuries involving heavy commercial
vehicles operating at high speed, are the leading driver-related factor
in large truck crashes. Between 2012 and 2014, speeding was identified
as a factor in 21 to 24 percent of fatal truck crashes in which a
driver-related factor was recorded.\26\ The NPRM estimates that
requiring heavy vehicles to be equipped with a speed limiting device
set at 65 mph, would save 63 to 214 lives annually.
\26\ Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Large Truck and
Bus Crash Facts 2014, No. FMCSA-RRA-16-001 (Washington, D.C.: Federal
Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 2016).
Beyond affecting crash severity, excessive speed can influence
driver performance. As vehicle speed increases, so does the distance
traveled while the driver's brain is processing roadway information.
Consequently, the rate at which a driver must process information about
the highway and its environment increases directly with increasing
travel speed. Once the information processing demands exceed the
processing capabilities of the driver, a crash is likely to occur.
Additionally, at higher speeds, large trucks and buses become more
difficult to maneuver--especially on corners, curves, or where evasive
action is required. Compared to passenger vehicles, commercial trucks
and buses have reduced maneuverability; greater propensity to roll, due
to higher centers of mass; and reduced braking efficiency. The NTSB has
investigated numerous large truck and bus crashes in which the
initiating event was a mechanical deficiency (for example, tire or
brake failure). In such cases, drivers are less likely to regain
control of a heavy vehicle after experiencing a mechanical failure when
operating at higher speeds.
Managing the top speed of heavy vehicles is also necessary to
ensure compatibility with the roadway environment and infrastructure.
In several investigations, the NTSB has found that roadside barriers,
such as median barriers, were unable to retain or redirect heavy
vehicles involved in run-off-road crashes. For example, in 2010, a
truck-tractor in combination with a 53-foot-long van semitrailer was
traveling south on Interstate 65 near Munfordville, Kentucky, when it
departed the left lane, traveled across the median, struck and overrode
the median barrier, and entered the northbound travel lanes. The truck
collided with a 15-passenger van, killing the truck driver, the van
driver, and nine van passengers.\27\ We found that the median barrier's
inability to retain the truck contributed to the severity of the
\27\ National Transportation Safety Board, Truck-Tractor
Semitrailer Median Crossover Collision with 15-Passenger Van in
Munfordville, Kentucky on March 26, 2010, Rpt. No. HAR-11/02
(Washington, D.C.: National Transportation Safety Board, 2011).
Although electronic engine control unit (ECU)-based speed limiters
prevent vehicles from exceeding a set maximum speed, they do not (1)
prevent speeding in locations where the speed limit is lower than the
governed speed, or (2) stop vehicles from exceeding the governed speed
when traveling downhill. Furthermore, because the majority of speeding-
related heavy vehicle crashes involve heavy vehicles traveling at
unsafe speeds for the conditions, such as speed-restricted areas,
traffic-congested areas, or poor weather conditions, rather high rates
of speed above 65 mph, the NTSB preference would be for NHTSA to
develop a rulemaking requiring that all newly manufactured heavy
vehicles be equipped with advanced speed limiting technology, such as
variable speed limiters and intelligent speed adaption devices. The
current NPRM clearly describes how the severity of a heavy vehicle
crash increases with travel speed and outlines the safety benefits of
ECU-based speed limiters.
The NTSB is pleased that NHTSA and the FMCSA are working together
to develop regulations to limit the speed of heavy vehicles as a means
of reducing the severity of crashes and the resulting fatalities and
injuries. The NTSB supports the proposed rulemaking as an interim step
toward an eventual requirement that all newly manufactured heavy
vehicles be equipped with advanced speed limiting technology.
Electronic Logging Devices
For more than 45 years, our investigations have identified fatigue
as a cause, contributing factor, or finding in crashes across all
transportation modes. Fatigue-related accidents can be avoided with a
combination of science-based regulations, comprehensive fatigue risk
management programs, and individual responsibility. For commercial
carriers, the NTSB has advocated the use of logging devices to allow
better monitoring of hours-of-service (HOS) and driver fatigue for over
25 years. Most recently, in 2007, the NTSB recommended that the FMCSA
require all interstate commercial vehicle carriers to use electronic
on-board devices that collect and maintain data concerning driver HOS
and, as an interim measure, prevent log tampering and submission of
false paper logs.\28\ Properly designed, used, and maintained ELDs
enable drivers, motor carriers, and authorized safety officials to
track on-duty driving hours more effectively and accurately, thus
preventing both inadvertent and deliberate HOS violations. Compliance
with the HOS regulations helps ensure that drivers have time to obtain
restorative rest, enabling them to operate their commercial motor
vehicles more safely.
\28\ H-07-041 and -042, December 17, 2007.
On December 16, 2015, the FMCSA published its final rule,
``Electronic Logging Devices and Hours of Service Supporting
Documents.'' \29\ Although this rule is not the universal mandate that
we recommended, we recognize that it represents significant progress
toward improving HOS compliance and safety by mandating ELDs for most
motor carrier operations. By extending the population of affected
drivers, establishing technical specifications for reliable ELD
performance and tamper-resistance, clarifying the supporting documents
requirement and making it applicable to all drivers currently required
to prepare HOS records of duty status, and adopting anti-harassment
provisions to protect drivers, this rule constitutes an acceptable
alternate method of satisfying the recommended actions. Accordingly, we
classified our Safety Recommendations H-07-41 and -42 ``Closed--
Acceptable Alternate Action.'' As we continue to link the cause of
fatigue-related crashes to HOS violations, we encourage the FMCSA to
consider further expansion of the mandate in the future to include the
remaining driver population that is currently exempt from the new ELD
requirements, and until then, to include ELD in a Beyond Compliance
\29\ 80 Federal Register 78292.
Event Data Recorders
Recorders--data, audio/voice, and video--capture and store critical
information that can help investigators determine the cause of a crash
and help companies and operators take proactive steps toward
prevention. Yet, most trucks and buses are still not equipped with
these critical technologies, even though recorders are readily
available, easily installed, and largely affordable. For this reason,
``Expand Recorder Use to Increase Safety'' is one of the safety
improvement issue areas on our 2017-2018 Most Wanted List; it was also
carried over from our 2016 Most Wanted List.\30\
\30\ National Transportation Safety Board, Expand Recorder Use to
Increase Safety (Washington, D.C.: National Transportation Safety
Various types of recorders can be useful. EDRs capture critical
vehicle information about the vehicle and occupants for a brief period
of time (seconds, not minutes) before, during, and after a crash. EDRs
may record a wide range of data elements, such as whether the brakes
were applied, vehicle speed at the time of impact, steering angle, and
whether seat belts were being used at the time of the crash. Image/
video event recorders--both inward- and forward-facing--show the driver
and environment immediately before, during, and after an event.
We routinely use recorder data after an accident to determine what
went wrong, how the vehicle occupants died or were injured, and the
safety devices and systems employed. We have seen many cases, however,
in which a lack of data hampered us from understanding the true cause
of the crash. The 2014 Orland, California crash involving a truck-
tractor in combination with two trailers, a motorcoach, and a passenger
motor vehicle is an example where inward-facing video and vehicle
information, such a brake and throttle input, could have given us the
information we needed; however, we were ultimately forced to conclude
that the crash occurred for reasons that could not be established from
Recorders not only help investigators determine the cause of a
crash, but, perhaps more importantly, they help companies and operators
establish effective safety management strategies. Data from recorders
can be used to adjust procedures and enhance crew training to prevent
crashes from happening in the first place. Although some operators have
implemented or are in the process of implementing recorder programs and
systems, many are slow to do so without regulatory requirements.
The NTSB has a long history of advocating technology to record
crash data in highway transportation, dating back to 1990. To date,
NHTSA has failed to develop standards or require the use of EDRs for
heavy vehicles, including truck-tractor units, despite NTSB safety
recommendations to do so.\31\ We firmly believe that, due to a lack of
standards and requirements for heavy vehicle EDRs, crash data essential
to better understanding collisions continue to go unrecorded, thus
impeding improvements in highway safety. The NTSB will continue to
recommend that NHTSA take action in this important area.
\31\ H-99-054, November 2, 2999; H-10-007, July 8, 2010; H-10-014
and H-10-015, October 21, 2010.
The NTSB has also called on the FMCSA to require motor carriers to
install video event recorders (VERs).\32\ Additionally, the FMCSA
should require all heavy commercial trucks to be equipped with VERs
that capture data in connection with the driver and the outside
environment, including the roadway, in the event of a crash or sudden
deceleration event. The device should create recordings that are easily
accessible for review when conducting efficiency testing and system-
wide performance monitoring programs. Motor carriers should be required
to review and use VER information in conjunction with other performance
data to verify that driver actions are in accordance with company and
regulatory safety rules and procedures.
\32\ H-10-010 and -011, October 21, 2010.
The NTSB believes video event recorders are often the best way to
determine what happened in a crash. For example, on March 3, 2015, the
NTSB released a safety report, ``Commercial Vehicle Onboard Video
Systems,'' that discussed two recent crashes where continuous video
systems were installed on commercial vehicles and proved to be
extremely useful in evaluating the circumstances leading to a crash and
providing critical vehicle dynamics and occupant kinematics data for
assessing crash survivability.\33\ The FMCSA should encourage the use
of VER technology in a Beyond Compliance Program.
\33\ National Transportation Safety Board, Commercial Vehicle
Onboard Video Systems, Rpt. No. SR-15/01 (Washington, D.C.: National
Transportation Safety Board, 2015).
We rely on commercial trucks to deliver food and goods to our local
grocery stores, medical supplies to our pharmacies and hospitals, and
packages to our loved ones. Trucks and truckers are integral to our
economy. But because of their sheer size, weight and physical
properties, commercial trucks introduce a disproportionate hazard to
passenger vehicle occupants in a crash. Improving the safety of
commercial truck operations will not only save lives, but improve the
public's confidence in this vital and visible industry. Commercial
truck safety is a multifaceted issue involving the vehicles, the
companies that operate them, the drivers, the oversight agencies, and
Congress. Any successful effort to strengthen commercial trucking
safety must be a collaborative effort.
The FMCSA has demonstrated enthusiasm to implement positive change.
Even while the IRT review was underway, the FMCSA proactively made
program changes based on the feedback it was receiving from the IRT.
The FMCSA has already fulfilled several IRT recommendations, including
enhancing training for its investigators and improving the use of data
to better assess motor carrier risk factors. The FMCSA is to be
commended for its responsiveness and willingness to learn from tragedy
to avoid future tragic accidents. But, much work remains to be
Thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today. I look
forward to responding to your questions.
The Chairman. Thank you, Chairman Hart.
Next we have Captain Chris Turner. He is the Commander of
Troop I of the Kansas Highway Patrol and Vice President of the
Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance. In his current role, he
oversees the inspection of commercial vehicles and drivers as
well as overseeing inspection resources, such as weigh station
personnel and mobile units.
STATEMENT OF CHRIS TURNER, CAPTAIN,
KANSAS CITY HIGHWAY PATROL, AND VICE PRESIDENT,
COMMERCIAL VEHICLE SAFETY ALLIANCE
Captain Turner. Good afternoon, Chairman Fischer, Ranking
Member Booker, and members of the Subcommittee. Thank you for
inviting me to participate in today's hearing.
My name is Chris Turner, and I am in charge of the Kansas
Highway Patrol's Commercial Motor Vehicle Enforcement, and I
serve as the Vice President of the Commercial Vehicle Safety
Alliance, representing state and provincial agencies who
enforce commercial motor carrier safety regulations in the
U.S., Canada, and Mexico.
Today's topic is particularly meaningful to us, charged
with keeping the Nation's roadways safe. We take that mission
seriously, and I appreciate the opportunity to share our
thoughts on how to continue to improve CMV safety.
I want to stress that the vast majority of motor carriers
and operators are safe and they're responsible. However, in
order to keep unsafe vehicles and drivers off the roads, we
have to focus on how best to combat the efforts of the less
In order to do that, states need stable, long-term,
reliable funding that is commensurate with the responsibilities
the states are tasked with under the Motor Carrier Safety
Assistance Program. We rely on Federal funds authorized in the
highway bill and appropriated each year to help implement our
states' CMV safety programs, and these programs include
educational outreach to adults and teen drivers, enforcement on
CMVs and individuals driving unsafely around CMVs, vehicle and
driver inspections, compliance reviews, and safety audits.
And, unfortunately, we are dealing with an issue directly
related to the current Continuing Resolution. Because of a
technical error in the CR, states stand to lose a total of $112
million in MCSAP funding this fiscal year, which is a third of
the program's funding. If the funding issue is left unresolved,
many states will be forced to severely scale back critical CMV
education, enforcement, and inspection activities.
We urge Members of this Committee to reach out to your
colleagues on Appropriations in support of a full
appropriations bill at FAST Act levels. If a Continuing
Resolution is necessary, it is imperative that the MCSAP
section be corrected. And my written statement provides
additional details on this issue.
We must find a way to provide states with reliable, long-
term funding; otherwise, state governments might decide that
their manpower and resources are better spent elsewhere and not
begin reducing--or, excuse me--and begin reducing or even
shutting down CMV units. With fatalities on the Nation's
highways on the rise, we need more education programs and
enforcement, not less.
We are also concerned about the growing number of
legislative exemptions. Generally, CVSA opposes exemptions in
legislation, as they complicate enforcement and have the
potential to undermine safety efforts. And we understand that
these exemptions are intended to provide relief to the
industry, and that industry understandably wants that relief as
soon as possible, but if the exemption cannot be enforced
correctly and consistently, then both industry and enforcement
CVSA asks that members receive exemption requests from
constituents to consider whether that exemption is truly
necessary and ensure that there will be no negative impact to
safety. When an exemption is included in legislation, CVSA asks
that members include an implementation window that allows the
Federal agencies enough time to provide guidance and the states
enough time to adopt the exemption and train inspectors and
And, finally, there remains work to be done on the issue of
motor carrier safety. While inspectors can stop a truck
carrying freight at any time, they are not permitted to stop
and inspect a loaded motorcoach unless they observe a visible
hazard or a violation of state law. Think about that. So
drivers, vehicles, and motor carriers that move people are
subject to less scrutiny than those that transport goods.
While the majority of the industry is committed to safety,
enforcement needs the authority to stop and inspect all
commercial motor vehicles on the roadways, particularly those
that move people.
To conclude, we ask that Congress give FMCSA and the states
robust and stable funding; clear, enforceable regulations; and
the authority to inspect and interact with all sectors of the
commercial motor vehicle community. And given those tools, I am
confident that we will succeed in reducing fatalities,
injuries, and crashes involving commercial motor vehicles.
Again, thank you for the opportunity to be here. I
[The prepared statement of Captain Turner follows:]
Prepared Statement of Chris Turner, Captain, Kansas Highway Patrol,
and Vice President, Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance
Chairman Fischer, Ranking Member Booker and Members of the
Subcommittee, thank you for holding this important hearing and for
inviting me here today to discuss the future of safety on our Nation's
My name is Chris Turner, I am a Captain with the Kansas Highway
Patrol, and I currently serve as Vice President of the Commercial
Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA). CVSA is a nonprofit association
comprised of local, state, provincial, territorial and Federal
commercial motor vehicle safety officials and industry representatives.
We represent the state agencies tasked with the responsibility for the
administration and enforcement of commercial motor carrier safety
regulations in the United States (U.S.), Canada and Mexico. We work to
improve commercial motor vehicle (CMV) safety and uniformity by
bringing truck and bus regulatory, safety and enforcement agencies
together with industry representatives to solve highway transportation
safety problems. Every state in the U.S., all Canadian provinces and
territories, the country of Mexico, and all U.S. territories and
possessions are CVSA members.
The topic of today's hearing, ``Continuing to Improve Safety on our
Nation's Highways.'' is a critical one. I would like to thank the
subcommittee for holding this hearing to discuss the future of safety
on our roadways. As the commander of commercial motor vehicle
inspectors in Kansas, my testimony will focus on how to improve safety
related to commercial motor vehicles.
As we work to implement the Fixing America's Surface Transportation
(FAST) Act of 2015 and begin to consider the next round of improvements
for CMV safety, it is critical that Congress and the administration
provide states with the resources necessary to effectively take unsafe
drivers and vehicles off the roads, shut down motor carriers that do
not comply with the safety requirements, and continue our education and
outreach programs. This testimony will focus on the challenges facing
the CMV enforcement community and our recommended solutions. Simply
put, CVSA is asking Congress to provide the states with the tools we
need to effectively run our programs and save lives. We need reliable
funding that is commensurate with the work load; clear, enforceable
regulations; and access to all sectors of the motor carrier industry.
Stable, Long-Term Funding
The Federal government entrusts the states with the responsibility
of enforcing the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) and
the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMRs). To meet that
responsibility, Congress provides funding to the states, through the
Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP). The states use these
funds to conduct inspection and enforcement activities, train
enforcement personnel, purchase necessary equipment, update software
and other technology, and conduct outreach and education campaigns to
raise awareness and improve CMV safety issues. The funds are used, in
part, to pay the salaries of more than 12,000 full and part time CMV
safety professionals. These people conduct more than 3.4 million CMV
roadside inspections, 34,000 new entrant safety audits and 6,000
compliance reviews each year.
The good news is the program works. Effective enforcement of the
FMCSRs and HMRs helps save lives every day, keeping dangerous vehicles,
and unqualified and unsafe drivers off the Nation's roads. The benefits
of MCSAP are well documented, and every dollar invested in the state
programs yields a big return for taxpayers. According to research and
figures from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA),
CVSA estimates that MCSAP has an estimated benefit to cost ratio of
20:1. Every roadside inspection conducted yields an estimated $3,281 in
Unfortunately, the program now faces a lack of reliable, long-term
funding, which could force states to scale back or even end their CMV
enforcement programs entirely. In the FAST Act, states were tasked with
a number of new safety initiatives under MCSAP. New and expanded
responsibilities mean improvements in safety, but only to the extent
the states have the resources to effectively implement those policies.
In recognition of this fact, the bill also included higher funding
levels for the MCSAP grants, ensuring that funding levels kept pace
with the growing workload. States, in turn, relied on that commitment
of more Federal funding to maintain current enforcement activities,
programs, staffing levels and purchase equipment necessary for the
performance of their CMV safety responsibilities. However, because
Congress is operating under a series of Continuing Resolutions for
fiscal 2017, states are receiving less in Federal funds to do more
work. This is not a sustainable model for the states.
The issue is further complicated because the current continuing
resolution was drafted using the pre-FAST Act funding model. The FAST
Act consolidated nine grant programs into four. This new grant
structure went into effect in 2017. Because the December continuing
resolution was not updated to reflect the new grant structure, it
inadvertently funds several grants that no longer exist while failing
to fully fund the MCSAP formula grant and the revamped High Priority
grant programs. This means, although Congress has already allocated the
money, if this issue is left unresolved FMCSA will not be able to
disburse nearly $112 million in fiscal 2017 funds to the states for
critical safety, enforcement activities and educational outreach. As a
result, not only are states not receiving the full funding level
authorized in the FAST Act for fiscal 2017, but they could, in fact,
receive less in fiscal 2017 than they did in fiscal 2016, severely
curtailing critical CMV enforcement and inspection activities funded by
MCSAP and potentially putting the future of some state programs at
risk. The table below shows the various funding scenarios for the MCSAP
formula and High Priority grants.
Fiscal 2017 Funding Level Scenarios--MCSAP Formula and High Priority
Current Continuing Resolution WITH Current Continuing Resolution WITHOUT
FAST Act 2017 Anomaly Anomaly
$334 million $285 million $171 million
In addition, certain CMV enforcement and inspection activities
critical to national security are also impacted. For example, because
the Border Enforcement Grants Program (BEG) was incorporated into the
new MCSAP grant structure in the FAST Act reorganization, the current
misalignment in the Fiscal 2017 Continuing Resolution means that
despite Congress having allocated the money for BEG, FMCSA will not be
able to disburse the funds to the states, severely limiting resources
used to ensure that foreign carriers coming into the United States are
compliant with the U.S. safety regulations.
When States realize a reduction in their MCSAP funding, their
programs are reduced and fewer inspections, compliance reviews, safety
audits and education programs are conducted, reducing the safety
benefits discussed above and undermining years of improvement in CMV
safety. Reductions in funding also mean lost jobs. According to a
report completed for FMCSA in 2007, the average ``cost'' (including
wages and benefits) of a state safety inspector was estimated at
$66,052.51.\1\ This means that for every $1 million invested in the
MCSAP, 15 jobs are created or maintained. Conversely, every $1 million
reduction in MCSAP funding results in lost jobs or positions eliminated
at the state level. And once those positions are eliminated, it can be
very difficult to bring them back.
\1\ Roadside Inspection Costs. Federal Motor Carrier Safety
Administration. October 2007. http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/facts-research/
It is imperative that states be able to rely on long-term funding
at levels that match their efforts. The consequences of not addressing
this funding issue are grave and extend well beyond this single fiscal
year. In the short-term, state agencies may be forced to drastically
cut programs and downsize their workforce in order to absorb the
funding reductions. However, uncertainly for states could also lead to
enforcement personnel being transferred out of CMV enforcement units,
endangering drivers and the general welfare of the motoring public when
important traffic enforcement activities are reduced or eliminated
altogether due to a lack of reliable resources and manpower. Even if
funding in fiscal 2018 returns to authorized FAST Act levels, it will
be difficult for states to rebuild these critical safety programs, as
it requires significantly more time to re-hire and re-train enforcement
and inspection personnel, and state governments may be unwilling to
recommit funds and manpower to a program with unreliable long-term
funding. Once those state resources are redirected to other activities
within the state, it will be incredibly difficult to bring them back to
CMV safety-focused activities. This means a reduction in enforcement on
the motor carrier industry while all reports indicate that the number
of trucks and buses on our nations roadways will only continue to grow
and recent crash and fatality numbers show an alarming trend upwards.
To address this issue, CVSA encourages Congress pass a full
appropriations bill realizing the FAST Act's promise of increased
funding levels for MCSAP. If Congress is unable to pass a
transportation appropriations bill and instead must pass a continuing
resolution through the end of the year, it is imperative that the
continuing resolution include an anomaly requested by the U.S.
Department of Transportation's FMCSA to correct the misalignment of
funds in the current continuing resolution, which expires April 28.
However, this is only a short-term patch. The larger issue of
relying on the appropriations cycle to determine funding levels on a
year-to-year basis does not allow the states to plan long-term. State
agencies will be reluctant to fill positions, continue enforcement
programs or engage in bold new initiatives if they cannot be confident
that Federal funds will come in a timely manner, at the approved
levels. Recognizing that future funding for the MCSAP is directly tied
to the long-term solvency of the Highway Trust Fund, CVSA supports
ongoing efforts to identify sustainable, long-term revenue sources to
address the Highway Trust Fund solvency, in order to ensure stability
for MCSAP. In addition, we look forward to working with the Members of
this Committee to find a way to provide states with steady, reliable
funding at the authorized levels.
Another challenge facing the enforcement community is inconsistency
in the regulations. The Federal safety regulations help reduce or
prevent truck and bus crashes, fatalities, and injuries by establishing
minimum credentialing and vehicle mechanical fitness requirements to
ensure interstate motor carriers and drivers operate safely. The
regulations are developed in consultation with enforcement, industry,
and subject matter experts, and are intended to establish a clear set
of rules by which all motor carriers must abide.
The states, in partnership with FMCSA, work to enforce those
regulations consistently and correctly. In order to become a CMV
inspector, an individual must go through rigorous training. Once
certified, an inspector must conduct a minimum level of inspections
each year to maintain their certification. Inspectors must also attend
annual refresher training and are trained after every regulatory update
or change. This is all geared towards ensuring that inspectors and
roadside enforcement officials fully understand and effectively
communicate the regulations they are enforcing.
Clarity, consistency, uniformity and enforceability are the
cornerstones of an effective regulatory framework. Confusion and
inconsistencies create more work for the enforcement community and
industry. Inconsistencies and exceptions within the regulations require
more training and create more opportunities for mistakes, which in turn
require additional resources to correct. These inconsistencies also
have a direct impact on data quality. Senator Fischer, Ranking Member
Booker and the Members of this Committee recognized these facts by
including provisions in the FAST Act to improve the regulatory process,
for which the enforcement community is grateful.
Unfortunately, however, the FAST Act also included a number of
legislative exemptions from the safety regulations. CVSA is generally
opposed to the inclusion of exemptions in legislation. We recognize
that there may be instances when exemptions are appropriate and do not
compromise safety; however, overall, CVSA believes that exemptions have
the potential to undermine safety and complicate enforcement. Every new
exemption is an opportunity for confusion and inconsistency in
enforcement, diverting scarce resources from other activities and
undermining the program's effectiveness. While CVSA has no specific
opposition to many of the exemptions on an individual basis,
complications have already surfaced regarding their implementation.
Problems begin with the adoption of exemptions. While the
exemptions were made effective at the Federal level upon enactment of
the bill, that is not necessarily the case at the state level. The
states cannot enforce Federal laws and regulations, and instead adopt
Federal regulatory policy into their own state law and code. Some
states adopt Federal rules by reference, allowing them to automatically
adopt Federal changes immediately. However, many states do not adopt by
reference and must go through either a legislative or regulatory
process to make the Federal regulatory changes effective at the state
level. This process takes time, especially in states where the
legislature does not meet annually.
Even in states where adoption is automatic by reference, there is
still a delay in the practical implementation of an exemption.
Jurisdictions must be made aware of the change and its impacts. In many
cases, interpretations and guidance from the Federal agency on the
parameters and definitions of the exemption are necessary. For example,
a number of the exemptions to CMV size and weight limits included in
the FAST Act required guidance from the Federal Highway Administration
(FHWA). FHWA worked quickly to provide the guidance to the states, but
even so, the document was not circulated until February of 2016, which
left industry and the enforcement community wondering how the
exemptions would work in the meantime and at times creating conflicts
during roadside inspections.
Finally, once the exemption has been analyzed and guidance
provided, state enforcement personnel must be trained on the new
exemptions. Inspectors must be taken away from important enforcement
and education efforts and brought into the classroom to be trained on
the changes. Practically speaking, this takes time. This guidance and
the subsequent training is critical to ensuring the exemption is
interpreted and enforced uniformly.
Recognizing these challenges, FMCSA has a policy in place that
allows states three years to adopt changes to the FMCSRs. While states
work hard to adopt the changes as quickly as possible, the three-year
window allows enough time for the states to go through their process
and for inspectors to be properly trained. Moving forward, CVSA
encourages Congress to consider including an implementation window or
some other mechanism that allows other Federal agencies enough time to
provide any necessary guidance on the exemption and the states enough
time to adopt the changes and train inspectors and enforcement
personnel. We understand the exemptions are intended to relieve
industry of a certain burden, but if the exemption cannot be enforced
correctly and consistently, industry and the enforcement community both
suffer. CVSA looks forward to working with Congress and our partners in
the motor carrier industry to identify a solution to this issue that
meets the industry's needs while also allowing for clear, uniform
application and enforcement of the regulations.
Motorcoach safety is another issue the enforcement community sees
challenges with going forward. The issue of bus and motorcoach safety
has been thrust into the spotlight over the past several years due to a
series of high profile, fatal crashes. According to FMCSA data and
findings by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), from 2005
to 2010, 262 people died in motorcoach crashes, and another 9,062 were
injured. Meanwhile, travel by bus or motorcoach is growing. Since 2005,
annual growth rates for intercity motorcoach service ranged from 5.1 to
9.8 percent between 2006 and 2010.\2\
\2\ Report on Curbside Motorcoach Safety. Special Report NTSB/SR-
11/01. National Transportation Safety Board. 2011. http://www.ntsb.gov/
The passenger carrier industry is relatively small, with
approximately 12,000 companies, in comparison to approximately 525,000
property-carrying motor carriers in the United States. And, nationally,
there are fewer CVSA-certified North American Standard Passenger
Vehicle inspectors than there are CVSA-certified truck inspectors. Yet,
approximately 750 million passengers board a bus or motorcoach each
year. Enforcement agencies conducted nearly 122,000 inspections of
passenger-carrying CMVs in 2015; that's compared with 3.2 million
inspections of property-carrying CMVs in the same year.\3\ Part of this
is attributable to the fact that there simply are more trucks on the
road than buses. However, passenger vehicle certified inspectors are
currently restricted on when and where they can examine a passenger-
carrying CMV, which also contributes to the vastly lower inspection
numbers. Inspectors are only permitted to stop a loaded bus when they
observe a traffic law violation, such as speeding or unsafe driving, or
if the inspector can see a visible vehicle violation that creates an
\3\ Motor Carrier Safety Progress Report (as of 9/30/16). Federal
Motor Carrier Safety Administration. 2017. https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/
While the vast majority of motor carriers and drivers are committed
to safety, this restriction allows those seeking to avoid scrutiny and
circumvent safety requirements to plan around inspections. Furthermore,
because of the current restrictions, there is an entire segment of the
industry, known as curbside carriers that are largely out of the reach
of inspectors. These are generally intercity carriers operating under a
business model where they pick up and drop off at a curbside location,
rather than at a set facility. This model allows flexibility to meet
the changing needs of customers, but opens the opportunity for carriers
to choose to avoid the scheduled origin/destination inspections that
carriers using the conventional fixed facility service receive. While
curbside operations represent a smaller segment of the overall
passenger-carrying industry, according to the NTSB report, curbside
carriers have higher fatal accident and death rates and higher serious
driver violations rates than conventional carriers.\4\
\4\ Report on Curbside Motorcoach Safety. Special Report NTSB/SR-
11/01. National Transportation Safety Board. 2011. http://www.ntsb.gov/
The ability to inspect a passenger-carrying CMV en route is an
extremely important tool for effective enforcement. Much like random
drug testing, the possibility of an unscheduled inspection en route
helps ensure that carriers and drivers comply with safety regulations.
Under the current restrictions, inspectors do not have authority to
pull over a passenger-carrying CMV for an inspection unless the there
is a visible imminent hazard. But what if the imminent hazard present
is one associated with the driver that is not visible? Research shows
that most crashes are caused by driver-related factors. A driver could
be operating their passenger-carrying vehicle without being medically
qualified, without the proper class of license, without the proper
license endorsement(s), driving despite a suspended or revoked license,
and/or exceeding his or her allowable hours of service. However, unless
the unlicensed, fatigued or otherwise seriously impaired driver is
observed making an imminently hazardous traffic infraction, the first
indication to inspectors of an imminent hazard may be when the driver
falls asleep and crashes. As long as there is no visible problem, that
hazardous driver will not be detected.
Proponents of the restriction will argue that it was put in place
for the safety of the passengers, so they do not end up stranded on the
side of a busy highway. However, traffic enforcement officers (who may
or may not be passenger vehicle certified) may already stop a bus or
motorcoach for traffic violations--such as speeding or other dangerous
behavior. So, the potential for being delayed due to enforcement does
exist. However, this unnecessary restriction makes traffic enforcement
stops, sometimes on the roadway shoulder, the only viable option to
stop and check passenger-carrying vehicles and their drivers. But
waiting for unlawful behavior by the driver does not prevent the risk
to passengers, which is the purpose of the passenger-carrying CMV
inspection in the first place. Certified inspectors are trained to make
inspection stops in safe locations--preferably escorting the vehicle to
an exit and a safe inspection site. Once subject to inspection, the
inspector is responsible for the safety and security of the passengers,
including the driver.
Proponents of the restriction will also argue that the restriction
is necessary, so that carriers can maintain their tight schedules and
meet pick-up and drop-off commitments to their customers. However, the
trucking industry, which operates on the same tight timetables and
under similar conditions on the roadways, has been able to incorporate
roadside inspections into their business model effectively.
CVSA respects that the motorcoach industry operates on a tight time
schedule and that a stop en route has the potential to delay schedules,
inconveniencing passengers; and, certainly, the comfort of passengers
is a necessary consideration. We also recognize that the majority of
carriers and drivers operate safely. However, it is important that the
enforcement community be able to reach the entire industry to ensure
all motor carriers are operating in compliance with the Federal
requirements set by Congress. CVSA supports striking the en route
prohibition from the regulations entirely.
In addition, while the CMV size and weight discussion often focuses
on property-carrying CMVs, it is important to understand that all CMVs,
including passenger-carrying CMVs, are subject to the same weight laws
and regulations. As the bus and motorcoach industry has evolved, new
requirements have been issued mandating additional equipment--for
example, handicapped passenger accessories to satisfy Americans with
Disabilities Act requirements or diesel emissions equipment to satisfy
Environmental Protection Agency requirements--that have added to the
empty/tare weight of the vehicle, effectively reducing the passenger
weight capacity margin. In addition, the average weight of a passenger
today is likely higher than the decades-old design assumption of 150
lbs per passenger.\5\ Heavier passengers, the advent of high seating
capacity double decker buses and the weight of required additional
equipment result in the higher likelihood that a bus will be loaded
above its allowable weight. Safe carrying capacity of a bus or
motorcoach is determined by the manufacturer's design, in which all
component specifications play a part--frame/body, axles, steering
components, bearings, and wheels--and particularly brakes and tires.
Overloading a vehicle or any of its components increases the risk to
passengers and those operating around the vehicle. According to FMCSA,
an overloaded tire is more likely to overheat and fail, which could
result in a blowout and crash.\6\
\5\ Sec. 567.4--Requirements for manufacturers of motor vehicles.
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. http://cfr.regstoday.com/
\6\ Motorcoach Safety Advisory Bulletin: Exceeding Tire Load
Ratings. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. http://
To help ensure that passenger-carrying vehicles and components are
not being overloaded, inspectors need to be able to weigh the vehicle,
and have the capability to inspect the condition of the components, as
necessary. Enforcement personnel who have identified passenger-carrying
CMVs exceeding manufacturers' designs will take the necessary steps to
minimize the impact on the passengers and their trip. This could
include the states coordinating with the motorcoach industry to
establish uniform procedures providing for passenger needs, including
identifying alternative transportation options, ensuring that at the
end of the day everyone who travels on our highways arrives home
without incident. CVSA supports giving states the authority to require
that passenger carrying CMVs report to an open weigh station while en
route, specifically for weight enforcement purposes. Standard
procedures will need to be put into place to provide for passenger
needs when an overloaded vehicle is identified. We look forward to
working with Congress and our industry partners to identify a solution
to this issue.
The FAST Act includes a number of changes that will have a positive
impact on the Nation's roadway safety, but those positive results will
only be realized if the states are given the funding necessary to
implement comprehensive, robust safety programs, as envisioned in the
bill. And there remains work to be done. While the bill included a
number of provisions that will result in more clear, enforceable
regulations, the practice of including exemptions from the safety
regulations will continue to hamper enforcement and potentially impact
safety. In addition, the bill made little progress in the area of
motorcoach safety and enforcement. As the state agencies responsible
for CMV enforcement, we look forward to working with the Members of
this Committee, FMCSA, our industry partners and other stakeholders to
continue working towards our shared goal of preventing deaths, injuries
and crashes on the Nation's roadways. We are committed to meeting our
mission and ask only that we be given the tools we need to do it
The Chairman. Thank you very much, Captain.
Next we have Dr. Paul Jovanis. Is it ``Jo-VAN-is'' or ``Jo-
Dr. Jovanis. ``Jo-VAN-is.''
The Chairman. ``Jo-VAN-is.'' Dr. Jovanis is Professor
Emeritus at Pennsylvania State University and Chair of the
Transportation Research Board's Strengthening the FMCSA
Research and Technology Committee. He has done extensive work
testing road safety and traffic engineering programs. His
recent work has focused on the analysis of crash data in
relation to road safety management.
STATEMENT OF PAUL P. JOVANIS, Ph.D., PROFESSOR
EMERITUS, PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIVERSITY, AND CHAIR,
TRANSPORTATION RESEARCH BOARD MOTOR CARRIER SAFETY RESEARCH
Dr. Jovanis. Chairman Fischer, Ranking Member Booker, and
Subcommittee members, I'm honored to be here to testify about
this important topic.
This testimony summarizes the report of the first meeting
of the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
Motor Carrier Safety Research Analysis Committee. The
committee's primary charges are to assist the Federal Motor
Carrier Safety Administration to strengthen the research and
technology program to better meet the needs of the agency's
safety mission as well as to inform stakeholders. The committee
has expertise in truck safety, program management, technology,
labor, statistics, sleep research, and human factors. A
committee membership appears in my written testimony.
Initiated at the request of FMCSA to encourage independent
program review, the Committee expects to meet semiannually to
better understand the opportunities and constraints of the
research and technology program. I would like to emphasize that
our committee is clearly focused on the research and technology
program of FMCSA and the safety implications of that program.
During the open sessions of the meetings, two points were
made that focused our committee's thinking in the preparation
of this report. First, the committee was asked to consider
whether FMCSA is doing the right things in the right areas.
Second, we were asked to consider the recommendations
concerning data set forth in a prior 2016 National Academy
report on motor carrier operator fatigue and health. Our
committee developed consensus recommendations intended to
initiate a dialogue with FMCSA staff on suggestions for actions
taken consistent with our committee charge.
In responding to the question concerning whether FMCSA is,
``doing the right things,'' the committee identified at least
two FMCSA safety goals. The first is to strengthen their R&T
program with respect to the agency's policies and regulatory
authorities, such as improving hours of service regulation and
increasing the effectiveness of vehicle inspection policies.
The second is to conduct research to more generally reduce the
frequency and severity of large truck and bus crashes
consistent with FMCSA's primary mission.
The bulk of FMCSA's R&T program appears to address the
first goal. The second is broader and was the subject of
substantial committee discussion. The first two recommendations
in our report directly relate to data analysis activities
within the Research and Technology program.
The committee's five recommendations can be summarized as
One, the committee suggests the strategic assessment of
FMCSA's R&T program. In addition to addressing the needs of
internal customers and responding to congressional mandates for
specific projects, the agency should consider committee
recommendations to develop over time a broader program to
reduce large truck and bus crash frequency and associated
fatalities and injuries. The committee report contains several
detailed suggestions in this regard.
Two, the committee recommends that FMCSA consider a program
concerning the effect on large truck and bus crashes of
environment, traffic, vehicle technologies, and road design, in
design to their current recognized factors. The program should
include a sustainable, annually produced, national dataset of
large truck and bus crashes for safety analysis. The committee
believes much of these data can be derived from existing
sources. The benefits of such a program are described in our
Three, the Committee notes that FMCSA has made substantial
use of naturalistic driving study, NDS technique. This method
uses trucks instrumented with cameras, global positioning
systems, and vehicle sensing hardware. Our suggestion is that
we undertake a workshop, jointly if possible, with FHWA, NHTSA,
and TRB, that are possible partners, as part of this endeavor.
This is a specific technical recommendation, but one the
Committee felt would benefit FMCSA and possibly other DOT
Our Committee supports methodologies to evaluate the
effectiveness of programs designed to reduce crashes.
And, finally, the Committee discussed the influence of
driver compensation on driver behavior. The committee realizes
the complexity and contentiousness of this topic, desiring to
develop a deeper understanding of the issue before offering
Finally, I want to thank the Committee and express our
appreciation to the FMCSA staff, who gave generously of their
time during our meetings. They're to be commended for engaging
the Academies in this effort. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Dr. Jovanis follows:]
Prepared Statement of Paul P. Jovanis, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus,
Pennsylvania State University, and Chair, Transportation Research Board
Motor Carrier Safety Research Analysis Committee
Initial Review of Research and Technology Program
of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
Chairwoman Fischer, Ranking Member Booker and committee members, I
am honored to be asked to testify about this important topic.
This testimony summarizes the report of the first meeting of the
Motor Carrier Safety Research Analysis Committee (NASEM, 2017), held on
December 15-16, 2016, at the National Academy of Sciences building in
Washington, D.C. The committee's primary charges are to ``assist the
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to strengthen
FMCSA's research and technology (R&T) program to better meet the needs
of the Agency's safety mission as well as to inform commercial motor
vehicle carrier enforcement, the research community, safety advocates,
and industry of active and planned projects'' and ``(a) assist FMCSA in
refining its research methodologies; (b) assist in identifying and
utilizing current research in the transportation and related
communities; and (c) promote transparency of the FMCSA R&T
The committee is a group of individuals free of conflicts with
regard to FMCSA's R&T program and with expertise in truck safety (both
researchers and motor carrier operators), truck safety program
management, technology, labor, statistics, sleep, and human factors
(see attached committee membership). Initiated at the request of FMCSA
to encourage independent program review, the committee expects to meet
semi-annually as we seek to better understand the opportunities and
constraints of the R&T program.
During the open sessions of our meeting, two points were made that
focused the committee's thinking in the preparation of this report.
First, the committee was asked to consider whether FMCSA is doing the
right things in the right areas. Second, we were asked to consider the
recommendations concerning data set forth in the 2016 report of the
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine on motor
carrier operator fatigue and health (NASEM 2016). Discussion of these
two questions was the organizing principle for our letter report. The
committee developed consensus recommendations intended to initiate a
dialogue with FMCSA staff on suggestions for actions to be taken
consistent with our committee statement of task.
Strategic Planning for FMCSA's R&T Program
In responding to the question concerning whether FMCSA is ``doing
the right things,'' the committee identified at least two safety goals,
each with different implications concerning priorities for research and
data analysis. The first is to strengthen FMCSA's R&T with regard to
the agency's policies and regulatory authorities, such as by addressing
fatigue through improved hours of service (HOS) regulation or reducing
crashes through increased effectiveness of vehicle inspection policies.
The second is to conduct research and assist in technology development
to reduce the frequency and severity of large truck and bus crashes,
consistent with FMCSA's primary mission.\1\
Although these goals are clearly related, the second is broader,
and was the subject of additional committee discussion. The bulk of
FMCSA's R&T appears to address the first goal. As explained in the
paragraphs that follow, the committee raised a question concerning
whether the agency is missing an opportunity to ascertain more broadly
the factors contributing to large truck and bus crashes and to
identify, evaluate, and implement suitable countermeasures.
The committee learned from staff presentations that the R&T program
has focused over the past decade or so on serving internal FMCSA R&T
customers such as program managers in rulemaking and enforcement and
responding to congressional mandates for specific projects. This
implies that the R&T program is addressing the first safety goal
identified above. The resulting projects include important safety
concerns but appear to give less attention to the second goal. The
committee appreciates the need for FMCSA to study specific areas
related to driver behavior and fatigue, as recommended in the National
Academies' driver fatigue and health report.\2\ However, addressing
such priorities should not preclude modest investments in data
gathering and analysis to understand risks of large truck and bus
crashes more broadly (i.e., goal 2).
\2\ See Recommendation 12.
Studies based on available data can yield important insights into
risk and where safety agencies should target their efforts and can
thereby inform strategic planning for future research. For example, an
analysis by Medina-Flintsch et al., (2012), which was discussed during
the meeting, indicates that most fatal truck crashes in two states
occurred on state roads and highways rather than on Interstate
highways, where most truck inspection enforcement activity is focused.
Furthermore, the non-Interstate fatal crash rate per truck mile
traveled is roughly two and one-half times that of the Interstate crash
rate. If this experience is typical of national trends, a targeted
effort to identify and enforce appropriate countermeasures is needed to
reduce fatal truck crashes off the Interstate system. Even off the
Interstates, a substantial portion of truck-involved fatal crashes
involve interstate carriers, which implies that a substantial share of
this safety problem is within FMCSA's responsibility.
The committee appreciates that the authorities and policies
available to FMCSA are limited to drivers, vehicle maintenance, and
carrier safety performance, which understandably causes the agency to
focus its efforts in these areas. Nonetheless, the committee recommends
that FMCSA consider a program of study that includes consideration of
the effect of environmental factors, traffic levels, vehicle
technologies, and roadway design on large truck and bus crashes in
addition to their current set of contributing factors. Although these
additional areas are primarily the responsibility of other entities,\3\
follow-up research on the Medina-Flintsch et al., study mentioned above
could also have implications for FMCSA's inspection and enforcement
programs. The committee was pleased to learn in this regard that FMCSA,
NHTSA, and FHWA have a history of collaboration on motor carrier safety
\3\ NHTSA (for crash avoidance technologies), Federal Highway
Administration (FHWA) (for highway safety countermeasures), and
localities and states (for highway design, enforcement, traffic
control, and emergency response).
The committee encourages FMCSA to consider (a) setting priorities
through strategic analysis to identify possible problem areas, then (b)
analyzing data to refine problem descriptions and explore possible
countermeasures, and finally (c) carrying out pilot tests of
countermeasures with evaluations of effectiveness. FMCSA's R&T program
has used elements of this process in investigations of driver fatigue
and distraction. The committee encourages the agency to broaden its
view to consider risk more holistically rather than to focus on aspects
of drivers, vehicle maintenance, and carrier performance to identify
the highest areas of risk or the most cost-effective countermeasures.
To the extent that a cost-effective countermeasure is the
responsibility of other modal administrations, FMCSA could cooperate
with the appropriate agency. The next section addresses how risk might
be considered more broadly through the provision of enhanced data for
Enhanced Crash Data
FMCSA countermeasures focus on drivers, vehicles, and carriers.
FMCSA R&T appears to do so as well, but this focus leaves out the
interacting effects of the environment and the roadway. In view of
FMCSA's limited R&T budget for data (about $3 million annually), the
committee is suggesting not the collection of new data but the assembly
of relevant information concerning motorcoach and truck crashes from
existing data sets.
The concept is to continue to seek opportunities to develop and
provide researchers with access to a sustainable data set that can be
used to conduct a range of safety analyses requiring multiple
variables. A similar recommendation is contained in the National
Academies' driver health and fatigue report.\4\ In this regard, FMCSA's
plan to create a database repository for data collected by FMCSA \5\ is
appropriate and should be conducted in a manner consistent with Federal
data standards and protocols established through the data.gov
\4\ See pages 189-190.
In addition, the committee recommends that FMCSA consider the
assembly of a sustainable database of large truck and bus crashes and
their attributes. The data set should include as many crash location,
severity of outcome, contributing crash factors, and crash (number of
vehicles, time of day, weather), vehicle, roadway, driver, and carrier
attributes as can be obtained by full integration of available data
sources. Several data sets can serve as starting points for such a
sustainable data set; the details can be developed through the conduct
of the research. The point is to use such a data set to support the
conduct of motor carrier safety research throughout the United States.
As a secondary benefit to FMCSA, expansion and availability of data
sets over time could enlarge the community of researchers interested in
and knowledgeable about truck safety. These researchers would not
necessarily be under contract to FMCSA. For example, they might be
academic researchers, including doctoral students preparing
dissertations, whose work is made possible by the availability of data.
At present, the number of researchers knowledgeable about motor carrier
safety is limited, which restricts FMCSA's options when it seeks
contractors to compete for research proposals or for assistance in peer
Safety Research Methods
The committee appreciates FMCSA's methodological challenges in
studying driver and vehicle safety issues. For example, for studies in
the area of fatigue, FMCSA relied on data provided by cooperating
carriers, which may involve biases because they tend to be the largest,
most safety-conscious carriers.
Alternatively, FMCSA has relied on naturalistic driving studies
(NDS) to examine driver behavior. This method uses trucks instrumented
with cameras, global positioning systems and vehicle sensing hardware
to observe driver behavior and vehicle response continuously in real
time. While providing useful information about the actions of the
driver of the instrumented commercial vehicle, the method is costly and
results difficult to generalize because they are not random samples
(and often again rely on data from the most safety-conscious carriers)
and typically lack crashes or even large numbers of near crashes. The
committee will have more comments in this area in subsequent letter
reports as it learns more about FMCSA's safety priorities, data
constraints, and emerging concerns.
The committee report provides additional discussion of
methodological opportunities available to the agency including
naturalistic driving study methods already in use by the agency,
epidemiological methods, and other techniques. One specific suggestion
is to convene a workshop, which would bring together top safety
methodologists across several fields (e.g., statistics, epidemiology,
road safety, human factors) to provide focused advice on the use of
naturalistic driving methodologies. There is an emerging literature
that forms a foundation for discussion on this topic (e.g., Jonasson
and Rootzen 2014; Wu and Jovanis 2012; Tarko 2012; Guo et al., 2010;
Bargman et al., 2015). Further details about methodological
opportunities are contained in the committee report.
Prior convictions for moving traffic violations are a good
predictor of subsequent crash risk [Lueck and Murray (2011), IIHS
(1990)]. A long-term effort to collect data on moving violations could
build on the recently completed FMCSA R&T report concerning the
underreporting of commercial motor vehicle driver convictions by courts
and states.\7\ States receive incomplete reporting from their court
systems, and some judges are reluctant to penalize motor carrier
drivers through convictions that could take away their means of earning
a living. In addition, first-time offenders sometimes receive a
referral to training rather than a conviction, despite evidence that
this practice poses a risk to other drivers (Gebers 2007). However, all
states record convictions for moving violations on driver records, so
collection of data on moving violation convictions is feasible.
Committee discussions concerning advanced technology systems for
motor carriers included studies of Wireless Roadside Inspection (WRI),
automation and collision avoidance systems. The committee was pleased
to learn about FMCSA's large-scale research project addressing wireless
roadside inspections.\8\ If most fatal truck crashes occur off the
Interstates, as indicated by the Medina-Flintsch et al., (2012) results
described above, WRI capability would allow inspections to be conducted
where risks appear to be highest. In view of the potential safety gains
and issues associated with connected and autonomous vehicle
technologies, the committee is interested in knowing more about (a)
FMCSA and NHTSA efforts to track market penetration of different
technologies and (b) early evaluations of the safety efficacy of these
\8\ This multiyear, nearly $5 million effort is described at
The committee's 5 recommendations may be summarized as:
1. The committee suggests a strategic assessment of FMCSA's R&T
program. In addition to addressing the needs of internal
customers and responding to congressional mandates for specific
projects, the agency should consider committee recommendations
to develop, over time, a broader program to reduce large truck
and bus crash frequency and the associated fatalities and
2. The committee recommends that FMCSA consider a program concerning
the effect on large truck and bus crashes of environment,
traffic, vehicle technologies, and road design in addition to
the currently recognized factors. The program should include a
sustainable, annually produced national data set of large truck
and bus crashes for safety analysis.
3. The committee notes that FMCSA has made substantial use of the
naturalistic driving study (NDS) technique. The committee
suggests that FMCSA convene a workshop of safety experts,
epidemiologists, and statisticians to suggest improvements to
NDS analysis to improve their use as a safety methodology
(especially the use of proxy measures and crash surrogates).
The interest of FHWA, NHTSA, and TRB technical committees
indicates possible partners in such an endeavor.
4. The National Academies' driver fatigue and health report
recommended that evaluation of the effectiveness of a program
designed to reduce crashes can be more feasible and relevant
than an attempt to quantify the multiple causes of crashes.
5. The committee discussed the influence of driver compensation on
driver behavior. The committee realizes the complexity and
contentiousness of this topic, desiring to develop a deeper
understanding of the issue before offering advice.
Finally, on behalf of the entire committee, I express my
appreciation to the FMCSA staff, which gave generously of their time
during our meetings. They are to be commended for engaging the National
Academies for this purpose.
Bargman, J., V. Lisovskaja, T. Victor, C. Flannagan, and M. Dozza.
2015. How Does Glance Behavior Influence Crash and Injury Risk? A
``What-If'' Counterfactual Simulation Using Crashes and Near-Crashes
from SHRP2. Transportation Research Part F, Vol. 35, pp. 152-169.
Gebers, M. A. 2007. A Traffic Safety Evaluation of California's
Traffic Violator School Citation Dismissal Policy. RSS-07-223.
California Department of Motor Vehicles. https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/
Guo, F., S. G. Klauer, J. M. Hankey, and T. A. Dingus. 2010. Near
Crashes as Crash Surrogate for Naturalistic Driving Studies.
Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research
Board, No. 2147, pp. 66-74.
IIHS. 1990. Traffic Conviction Dismissals Distort Offenders'
Records; Hide Future Crash Risk. Advisory No. 7, Jan.
Jonasson, J. K., and H. Rootzen. 2014. Internal Validation of Near-
Crashes in Naturalistic Driving Studies: A Continuous and Multivariate
Approach. Accident Analysis and Prevention, Vol. 62, pp. 102-109.
Lueck, M., and D. Murray. 2011. Predicting Truck Crash Involvement:
2011 Update. American Transportation Research Institute, Arlington, Va.
Medina-Flintsch, A., T. E. Trimble, R. G. Hughes, J. Scott, and R.
M. Clarke. 2012. Linking Carrier Descriptive Attributes to Crash
Patterns. International Forum on Traffic Records. http://www.atsip.org/
NASEM. 2016. Commercial Motor Vehicle Driver Fatigue, Long-Term
Health, and Highway Safety: Research Needs. National Academies Press,
NASEM.2017. Letter Report 1, Motor Carrier Safety Research Analysis
Committee, Transportation Research Board, March, 2017.
Tarko, A. P. 2012. Use of Crash Surrogates and Exceedance
Statistics to Estimate Road Safety. Accident Analysis and Prevention,
Vol. 45, pp. 230-240.
Wu, K.-F., and P. P. Jovanis. 2012. Crashes and Crash-Surrogate
Events: Exploratory Modeling with Naturalistic Driving Data. Accident
Analysis and Prevention, Vol. 45, pp. 507-516.
Committee Members in Attendance*
\*\*Unable to attend: Dan Blower, University of Michigan
Transportation Institute, and Linda Boyle, University of Washington
Axdahl, Lee, South Dakota Department of Public Safety
Bishop, Richard, Bishop Consulting
Byrd, LaMont, International Brotherhood of Teamsters
Campbell, John, Battelle Memorial Institute
Clarke, Robert, R.M. Clarke Consulting
Ferro, Anne, American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators
Garber, Nicholas, University of Virginia
Jovanis, Paul, Committee Chair, Pennsylvania State University
McCartt, Anne, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (retired)
Collin Mooney, Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance**
\**\ Mr. Mooney resigned from the committee in January 2017.
Stern, Hal, University of California, Irvine
Thiese, Matthew, University of Utah
Van Dongen, Hans, Washington State University
Woodruff, Greer, J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc.
The Chairman. Thank you, Doctor.
Next I would like to welcome Dr. Jerry Moyes, retired as
Chairman and CEO and President of Swift Transportation in 2016.
He has extensive ties to the trucking industry, serving as Vice
President of ATA, President of the Arizona Trucking
Association, and as a board member of the Truckload Carriers
STATEMENT OF JERRY MOYES, CHAIRMAN EMERITUS,
SWIFT TRANSPORTATION COMPANY
Mr. Moyes. Thank you, Chairman Fischer, Ranking Member
Booker, and other distinguished members of this subcommittee. I
want to thank you for inviting me to testify here this
morning--or this afternoon.
My name is Jerry Moyes. I am the Founder of Swift
Transportation. I started the company over 50 years ago with
one beat-up old truck. I grew it into the largest truckload
carrier in the United States and probably the world today. It
was very difficult early on with regulations, the Interstate
Commerce Commission, and a few things we don't have to deal
with today, but a lot of financial challenges early on.
But in 1990, we took the company public, and that was kind
of the shot in the arm, and we told the Street that we felt
that we could grow the company 10, 15, 20 percent a year
through internal growth and through acquisitions. And over the
next 15 years, we made--we grew it 25 percent both top line and
bottom line per year, a very successful operation.
But part of our growth was through acquisitions, and we
made 12 acquisitions, but we probably looked at another 40 or
50. And as we looked at these companies, we looked at, ``How do
we improve them? What are we going to do differently to improve
them?'' And one of the main lines that we always looked at was
their insurance and claims, their safety. And in numerous of
these 12 acquisitions that we made, almost all of them we felt
that that was an area that we could come in and improve on that
company. And that was one of the vital statistics that made us
go into these acquisitions.
So they were very successful. From 1966 to 1990, we grew
about $150 million in revenue. From 1990 to 2005, the next 15
years, we grew it to about $3.5 billion in revenue.
And I can tell you from day one to today, safety has always
been the number one criteria at this company, and it's largely
the number one reason for the success that we have had. It's
everyone's job at Swift to be very safety-minded, and that is
always number one.
Why is safety number one? We feel that we have an
obligation to the driving community out there, to our drivers,
and to our fellow employees to put not only the safest driver
out there, but the safest equipment. Teach the driver the
modern--how to be as safe as we can, but give him the best
tools that we can do to do that.
And at Swift, we have always been a pioneer in safety, and
we're proud that we're always ahead of a lot of our
competition, that it allowed us to grow the way we did. But
just some of things that even back in 1980, we brought in
what's called a trip recorder where we were starting to record
the drivers and their activity and everything. And I was a
driver back in them days, and the guys would give me a bad time
about, ``What are we doing this for?'' and they would lose
their little cassettes and all that stuff, but we started back
We developed safety lanes to where we can--when we fuel a
truck, we bring it in, we put a mechanic underneath to look at,
what can be wrong underneath that system that we don't identify
from a walk-around? So we put a creeper--or put a mechanic
under every one of them. We feel that's very important. We've
done that for a long time.
Back in 1990, before that, we were about 50 doubles,
pulling the 28-foot doubles, a truckload carrier, but when they
went to the 53-foot trailers, we were able to switch to the 53,
were permitted, as they become in all 48 states. And we learned
very rapidly that the 53 was a much safer trailer than the
doubles that we had been pulling.
We had done a number of things, risk analysis, the lane,
the stabilizing controls, but in 2010, 2010, we started
electronic logs. And this was 7 years before they were
mandated. So we've always tried to be ahead of the game.
In 2013, we were very proud that we started with what's
called a ``smart truck,'' the collision avoidance system, the
lane departure systems. We went to the automatic transmission
where the drivers could pay more attention to driving the
truck, and it made it become a much safer truck. Today, we have
almost 50 percent of our trucks that have that equipment on
them. And I can tell you, over the next 2 years, we'll be at
100 percent, with we call it the smart truck.
In 2015, we went to the dash cameras, where it's picturing,
in the case of a critical event, both the outside forward as
well as looking at the driver. And we have seen tremendous
success in that.
So we've made a lot of improvements to safety, not because
we're required by the government, but it is good business, and
both from an obligation to the motoring public, but to our
shareholders. It works both ways.
So I'm very proud with our safe and our courteous drivers.
And I really want to thank you for inviting me to this hearing.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Moyes follows:]
Prepared Statement of Jerry Moyes, Chairman Emeritus,
Swift Transportation Company
Chairman Fischer, Ranking Member Booker and distinguished members
of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to testify about
``Continuing to Improve Safety on our Nation's Highways.'' My name is
Jerry Moyes and I am the founder of Swift Transportation. Today I serve
on its board of directors and as Chairman Emeritus.
I started Swift 50 years ago driving a single truck. From the
beginning safety has been critical to our success and growth. Just one
accident is one too many. Today we are the largest truckload carrier in
North America. This achievement was possible because of our culture of
Safety First. Headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, Swift operates in 48
states, Mexico and Canada. Safety is the key to our success and a top
priority in our operations.
We operate about 18,000 trucks and generate over $4 billion in
annual revenue. The fore-hire and private carriage truckload sector
accounts for approximately 75 percent of all U.S. freight, measured by
revenue. The next largest share is rail at about 8.5 percent followed
by the less than truckload, or LTL, share at about 6.3 percent.\1\
Truckload carriers are by far the most common trucks you see on the
road. We mostly operate tractors pulling single 53-foot-trailers.
\1\ American Trucking Associations, U.S. Freight Forecast to 2027,
At Swift we believe safety is the responsibility of every level of
management, from the Chief Executive Officer to every driver who gets
behind the wheel. It is the responsibility of all managers to maintain
high standards in employee selection and to provide a safe working
environment, including continuous safety training, adhering to Company
safety policies and procedures, and complying with federal, state, and
local safety, health and environmental laws and regulations.
Safety at Swift is no accident. Simply put, safety makes good
business sense. We don't wait for the government to pass laws requiring
safety improvements. Swift has a long track record of going above and
beyond to provide our drivers with the safest equipment available. Here
are just a few examples of how we have pioneered safety practices:
In the late 1980s we installed trip recorders to monitor
speed compliance at 57 mph.
We established in-house safety lanes where complete safety
inspections are performed while a truck is fueled. Think of it
like a NASCAR pit stop.
We shortened our stopping distances by improving our brakes
and using ABS braking systems.
We stopped using double 28-foot-trailers, which were less
safe than singles, once single 53-foot-trailers were permitted
nationwide. Once again, our experience is double 28s are less
safe than single 53 foot trailers which is consistent with
\2\ The 2000 U.S. DOT Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Study
found that multi-trailer trucks, primarily double trailer trucks,
experienced an 11 percent higher overall fatal crash rate than single
trailer combinations (vol. 3, pg. VIII -5).
We put reflective markings on our trailers long before they
In the 1990s the advent of electronic engines gave us the
ability to govern the speed of our trucks at 62 mph.
We pioneered using satellite communications in our trucks to
improve safety and efficiency.
In 2006 we developed a driver risk analysis system that
identifies safe drivers.
At the same time we deployed driver simulators to improve
driving skills and reinforce safe behavior.
In 2007 we added vehicle stability control to all of our new
trucks. We coupled this technology with our Qualcomm on board
communication system, which allows us to receive critical event
messages in real time. This allows us to quickly review with
drivers the behaviors that trigger critical events. Once again,
we led the industry in this safety practice.
We deployed electronic logs in 2010, a full 7 years ahead of
the government mandate.
In 2013 we began ordering all new trucks--known as Smart
Trucks--with sophisticated collision avoidance and lane
Less than two years ago we installed windshield-mounted
cameras that activate and record when a critical event occurs.
I will repeat, we made these changes to improve safety for our
drivers and the public because it made business sense and it was the
right thing to do, not because we were required by the government.
The trucking industry, led by groups like the Truckload Carriers
Association and the American Trucking Associations, is committed to
continually improving safety. For the record, the trucking industry
annually invests at least $9.5 billion in safety. These investments
include technologies, training, driver safety incentives, and
compliance with safety regulations.\3\ Success in trucking is the
ability to deliver freight from point A to point B and to do so safely.
\3\ ATA's Safety Investment Study 2016, http://www.trucking.org/
There is no place for drug or alcohol use in trucking. Swift
supports the use of hair follicle testing, which is the most effective
test for identifying a broad spectrum of drugs. The industry's alcohol
use violation rate for 2014 was just .08 percent (i.e., eight-hundredth
of one percent).\4\ The rate for drugs in 2014 was 0.9 percent (i.e.,
less than 1 percent).\5\ In 2015 only 2 percent of large-truck drivers
involved in fatal crashes had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of
.08 grams per deciliter (g/dl).\6\ These results are attributable to
the industry's commitment to put safety first, with no tolerance for
drugs or alcohol in the cabs of our trucks. Results such as these have
placed Swift and like-minded carriers at the forefront of the industry.
\4\ Results from the 2014 Drug and Alcohol Testing Survey, Federal
Motor Carrier Safety Administration, October 2016, https://ntl.bts.gov/
\6\ Quick Facts 2015, National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration, December 2016, https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/
Several weeks ago Chris Lofgren from Schneider National appeared
before this subcommittee. He did an excellent job describing key safety
initiatives and successful results. Swift supports their testimony 100
percent. While preparing for this meeting I reviewed the Insurance
Institute for Highway Safety's website and discovered that Swift is
perfectly aligned with their safety initiatives. In fact, some of our
fleet of 60,000 trailers are testing bumpers for rear under ride guards
that meet the standards specified by the IIHS's Tough Guard Award.
Friends, motorists and public officials often compliment me on our
drivers' behavior. Swift trucks stand out because our drivers stay in
the slow lane, observe speed limits and are courteous.
At Swift we are always looking for ways to improve highway safety
for our drivers and the public. The last thing we want to do is make
our operation less safe. I have heard Double 33 foot trailers described
as the key to improved productivity, but we are not willing to trade
safety for productivity. Based on our experience we have learned that
single trailers are safer than doubles. I'm all for improving
productivity and, if the committee is interested, I am happy to share
my ideas on ways our industry can be more productive without
compromising safety or causing further damage to the highway
Chairman Fischer, Ranking Member Booker and other distinguished
members of the subcommittee, thank you again for the opportunity to
testify and provide Swift Transportation's perspective on increasing
The Chairman. Thank you, sir.
Next we have Dr. Adrian Lund. Dr. Lund is President of the
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Highway Loss
Data Institute. Trained as a psychologist, Dr. Lund has been
involved in health-related research since 1974. He has studied
youth drivers, substance abuse among drivers, and occupant
STATEMENT OF ADRIAN K. LUND, Ph.D., PRESIDENT, INSURANCE
INSTITUTE FOR HIGHWAY SAFETY
Dr. Lund. Good afternoon, Chairman Fischer, Ranking Member
Booker, and distinguished members of the Subcommittee. On
behalf of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, I would
like to thank you for this opportunity to talk about large
The Insurance Institute is a nonprofit research and
communications organization dedicated to reducing the deaths,
the injuries, and the property damage from motor vehicle
crashes. We were established in 1959 and are wholly supported
by auto insurers to provide objective information to help guide
safe choices in transportation.
IIHS has been studying large truck crashes for decades, and
the results of that research can be seen on our website. But
today my comments focus on our most recent truck research and
some of the ways we might make trucks safer. These comments are
detailed in my written testimony, but I'll try to summarize
First, as Ranking Member Booker pointed out, after several
years of much lower death rates on our highways due to the
recession, we are now seeing deaths increase in 2015 and 2016
as the economy picks up steam. This is well known. The less
well known is that this increase began in 2010 for fatal
crashes of large trucks. In fact, since the depths of the
recession in 2009, fatalities in large truck crashes have
increased 22 percent versus only 4 percent for fatalities and
all kinds of crashes. And it's important to remember that most
of these deaths are occupants of passenger vehicles, whose
smaller size and weight put them at a huge disadvantage in
But this size and weight disadvantage does not mean that
crashes and deaths are inevitable. Our recent research from
North Carolina shows that the risk of large truck crashes
varies greatly. Among the factors increasing crash risk were
defective equipment, such as faulty brakes and lighting
systems. Also, drivers who reported driving more than 12 hours
since an extended sleep were almost twice as likely to crash as
those awake for less than 8. Carriers with higher crash rates
also were more likely to be involved in crashes.
Our study also showed that there were factors that can
reduce crash risk. Anti-lock braking systems, which have been
required on new trucks since the 1990s, reduce the risk of
crashing by 65 percent. Benefits were found for stability
control systems, electronic logging devices, and speed
limiters. These findings show the promise of technology in
preventing truck crashes.
Although not prevalent enough to be analyzed in this study,
IIHS research has also noted that advanced driver assistance
technologies, like forward-collision warning and automatic
emergency braking, blind spot detection, and lane departure
prevention could mitigate as much as 28 percent of all crashes
involving large trucks.
One of the things we could not study in the North Carolina
research was the effect of speed. However, physics dictates
that faster speeds result in more crashes and more severe ones
no matter what the size of the vehicle, but for trucks, their
greater weight compounds this issue. Even a lightly loaded
40,000-pound truck has 13 times the kinetic energy of a 3,000
pound car traveling at the same speed. And this proposal for
speed limiters on large truck speeds is a welcomed attempt to
mitigate this problem.
Another key aspect of large truck crashes is that occupants
of other smaller vehicles are often injured when they underride
the truck. IIHS has shown that improved guards can prevent
these underrides from the rear. We welcome NHTSA's proposal to
strengthen the rear underride guard standard, but we also note
that the proposed requirements already fall short of what
trailer manufacturers can and are providing on new trailers.
Chairman Fischer and other members of the Subcommittee,
this concludes my oral remarks. And I would be happy to answer
any questions the Committee might have.
[The prepared statement of Dr. Lund follows:]
Prepared Statement of Adrian K. Lund, Ph.D., President,
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
What can be done to improve large truck safety?
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit
research and communications organization that identifies ways to reduce
deaths, injuries, and property damage on our highways. We are supported
by auto insurers. Thank you for the opportunity to testify on the
safety of large trucks in the United States.
Motor vehicle crash deaths have increased in recent years to the
highest level since 2008, with 35,092 deaths in 2015.\1\ Of these, a
total of 3,852 deaths involved crashes with large trucks. As the U.S.
economy rebounded from recession, deaths in large truck crashes started
to climb in 2009. What is especially concerning is that truck-related
crash deaths are increasing faster than overall motor vehicle crash
deaths. The number of people who died in large truck crashes was 22
percent higher in 2015 than in 2009, while crash deaths overall rose
less than 4 percent. The vast majority of people who die in crashes
between large trucks and passenger vehicles are people in passenger
vehicles. Preliminary data for 2016 indicate that the highway death
toll is still on the rise, and we expect that trucks are contributing
to this disturbing trend. A variety of countermeasures, both old and
new, could address the problem.
Recent IIHS research--large truck crash factors
IIHS has been studying serious crashes involving large trucks for
decades, and, although some aspects have improved, unsafe trucks and
tired truckers persist. A recent IIHS study examined the risk factors
for large truck crashes, such as defective equipment, safety
technology, and carriers' crash history.\2\
Researchers compared large trucks involved in serious crashes in
North Carolina during 2010-12 with a sample of similar trucks that
weren't involved in crashes to estimate the relative prevalence of
various factors and determine which ones are associated with increased
Nearly three-quarters of the crash-involved trucks had vehicle
defects identified during a post-crash inspection. Trucks with
violations for any type of defect were more than 3 times as likely to
be in a crash as trucks without such violations. Violations for brake,
tire, and lighting system defects also were associated with increased
crash risk. Risk was greater for violations severe enough to place the
Carriers with higher past crash rates were associated with an
elevated current crash risk. Companies with at least 100 reported
crashes per 1,000 power units (tractors or single-unit trucks) within
the preceding 24 months had a 72 percent higher risk of crashing than
carriers with fewer than 100 reported crashes per 1,000 power units.
Looking at driver-specific factors, researchers found that truckers
age 60 and older had a higher crash risk than drivers ages 30-59, who
made up 72 percent of the crash-involved drivers in the study. Truckers
who reported driving after at least 12 hours since an extended sleep
period were 86 percent more likely to crash than drivers who had been
awake for less than eight hours. Truckers who reported driving more
than five hours without stopping were more than twice as likely to
crash as those who drove 1-5 hours.
Several safety features showed promise in reducing crash risk among
the large trucks in the study. Antilock braking systems, which have
been required since the late 1990s, reduced the risk of crashing by 65
percent. Benefits were also found for electronic stability control
(ESC) and roll-stability control, electronic logging devices and speed
Vehicle stability control systems are designed to intervene when a
truck's motion becomes unstable, possibly resulting in rollover,
jackknife or other loss of control. ESC and roll-stability control are
among the crash avoidance technologies that have been developed for
large trucks. Others include forward collision warning/mitigation,
blind spot detection, and lane departure warning/prevention. Based on
an analysis of crashes during 2004-08, IIHS estimates that a
combination of all four technologies could prevent or mitigate as many
as 107,000 police-reported crashes each year, representing 28 percent
of all crashes involving large trucks.\3\ The technology could prevent
or mitigate as many as 12,000 nonfatal injury large truck crashes and
835 fatal large truck crashes each year.
Few things carry more potential risk than a semitrailer barreling
down the highway at 80 mph. Extreme speeds have become commonplace as
states have set higher and higher limits. These higher speeds are even
more dangerous for heavier vehicles. Large trucks have longer stopping
distances than other vehicles, making it more difficult for them to
avoid a crash. When a crash does occur, it is likely to be more severe.
Even a lightly loaded 40,000-pound truck has 13 times the kinetic
energy of a 3,000-pound car traveling the same speed, and this energy
increases with the square of the vehicle speed.
Despite the deadly consequences of extreme speeds, the idea of
lowering limits for all vehicles hasn't gained traction in state
legislatures. Given this reality, we welcome the proposal by the
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to at least put a cap on
the speeds of the biggest vehicles. Some critics of the proposed rule
have raised concerns about different vehicles on the same road
traveling at different speeds. But most trucks already travel at lower
speeds on average than passenger vehicles. That is in part because many
companies voluntarily use speed limiters to improve safety and fuel
economy. In addition, seven states have lower maximum speed limits for
trucks than for passenger vehicles.\4\
However, a small number of trucks do travel at very high speeds,
putting their drivers and the people in vehicles around them at grave
risk. We recently studied the effect of raising speed limits from 75 to
80 mph for all vehicles on certain road segments in Utah. We found that
the proportion of large trucks exceeding 80 mph rose from 0.1 percent
to 2.3 percent.\5\ While still a small number, every truck traveling
that fast represents a big risk because it has 50 percent more energy
to manage in an emergency than if it were traveling at 65 mph. Speed
limiters that physically prevent trucks from traveling that fast are
one way to make roads safer for everyone.
Rear underride guards are important truck safety gear that is long
overdue for an upgrade. An underride guard is the metal bumper that
hangs from the back of a semitrailer. The idea is to stop a smaller
vehicle from sliding beneath a high-riding trailer in a rear-impact
crash. All underride guards must meet Federal safety standards, but
IIHS research and crash tests have shown that many underride guards can
buckle or break off in a crash. When guards fail, the resulting
underride crashes often result in death or serious injury to people in
In 2015, 427 of the 2,646 passenger vehicle occupants killed in
large truck crashes died when the fronts of their vehicles struck the
back of trucks.\6\ Gaps in Federal crash data make it difficult to
pinpoint exactly how many of these crashes involve underride. An IIHS
analysis of a smaller sample of fatal crashes involving the rear of a
trailer equipped with an underride guard found that 94 percent produced
NHTSA has proposed a rule that would upgrade the rear underride
guard regulations for tractor-trailers, but the proposal does not go
far enough to ensure the guards withstand vehicle impacts, especially
in offset crashes.\8\ The proposal would align U.S. regulations with
stricter ones in place in Canada since 2007. NHTSA estimates that 93
percent of new semitrailers sold in the U.S. already comply with the
Canadian rules, based on information from the Truck Trailer
Manufacturers Association. The agency estimates the rule would save one
life and prevent three serious injuries a year. Ahead of an updated
U.S. standard, IIHS has been evaluating underride guard designs. Our
crash tests show that compliance with the Canadian standard does not
mean the guards will prevent underride when cars run into the outer
ends of a trailer, where the underride guards are weakest.
Trailer manufacturers have paid attention to our tests and have
made significant improvements. To recognize their efforts, we created a
new award for rear guards that successfully prevent underride in three
progressively tougher test modes.\9\ We presented the IIHS TOUGHGUARD
award in March to five North American semitrailer manufacturers. All
the changes these manufacturers have made to improve performance in our
tests exceed current rules in place in the U.S. and Canada, as well as
NHTSA's proposed new requirements. Highway safety would be better
served by regulations that require underride guards to withstand even
the most extreme offset crashes, which NHTSA's proposal does not
Summary and conclusions
Highway deaths have been on the rise as the economy has improved,
but truck-related crash deaths are increasing faster than overall motor
vehicle crash deaths. Vehicle defects, tired truckers and high travel
speeds are factors that can influence the incidence and outcome of
large truck crashes. Making sure that equipment is in good working
order, drivers are properly rested, and truck speeds are reduced are
important steps that would improve the safety of all road users. Strong
rear underride guards are another lifesaving measure that should not be
1. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. 2017. Fatality facts:
yearly snapshot, 2015. Arlington, VA. Available: http://www.iihs.org/
2. Teoh, Eric R.; Carter, Daniel L.; Smith, Sarah; McCartt, Anne T.
Crash risk factors for interstate large trucks in North Carolina.
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. September 2016.
3. Jermakian, J. S. 2012. Crash avoidance potential of four large
truck technologies. Accident Analysis and Prevention 49:338-46.
4. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. 2017. State laws: speed
limits. Arlington, VA. Available: http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/laws/
5. Wen, Hu. Raising the speed limit from 75 to 80 mph on Utah rural
interstates: effects on vehicle speeds and speed variance. Insurance
Institute for Highway Safety. May 2016.
6. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. 2017. Fatality facts:
yearly snapshot, 2015. Arlington, VA. Available: http://www.iihs.org/
7. Brumbelow, M.L. and Blanar, L. 2010. Evaluation of U.S. rear
underride guard regulation for large trucks using real-world crashes.
Report no. SAE 2010-22-0007. Proceedings of the 54th Stapp Car Crash
Conference, 119-31. Warrendale, PA: Society of Automotive Engineers.
8. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. 2016. ``U.S. can do
better than simply adopt Canada's rear underride guard standard.''
Status Report 51:2. Available: http://www.iihs.org/iihs/sr/
9. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. 2017. ``IIHS recognizes
trailers with good underride guards.'' Available: http://www.iihs.org/
[GRAPHICS NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]
The Chairman. Thank you, Doctor.
Before we begin our questions, I would ask unanimous
consent to insert a couple letters for the record from various
industry and safety stakeholders. One is from Advocates for
Highway and Auto Safety, and the other is Property Casualty
Insurers Association of America.
Without objection, so ordered.
[The information referred to follows:]
Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety
March 13, 2017
Hon. Deb Fischer, Chair,
Hon. Cory Booker, Ranking Member,
Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine
Infrastructure, Safety, and Security,
Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation,
Dear Chairwoman Fischer and Ranking Member Booker:
Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates) commends the
Subcommittee for convening tomorrow's hearing, ``Continuing to Improve
Truck Safety on our Nation's Highways.'' We respectfully request that
this letter be included in the hearing record.
Current trends show that truck crashes are too frequent and too
often are fatal and that there is an urgent need for overdue and
important motor carrier safety improvements. In 2015, 4,067 people were
killed in crashes involving large trucks. According to U.S. Department
of Transportation (U.S. DOT) data, this is an increase of more than 4
percent from the previous year and a 20 percent increase from 2009.
Furthermore, this is the highest fatality number, and the first time
truck crash deaths have exceeded 4,000, since 2008. Truck crash
injuries are also rising significantly. In 2015, 116,000 people were
injured in crashes involving large trucks. This is the highest number
of injuries since 2004, and over the past five years (since 2009) there
has been a 57 percent increase in the number of people injured in large
truck crashes. Additionally, truck crashes have severe economic
consequences. The cost to society from crashes involving commercial
motor vehicles has been estimated to be $112 billion in 2014.
The U.S. Department of Labor has consistently ranked driving a
truck as one of the most dangerous jobs in America. However, the safety
of large trucks affects all Americans, not just those who work in the
industry. In fatal two-vehicle crashes between a large truck and a
passenger motor vehicle, 97 percent of the fatalities were occupants of
the passenger vehicle.
Needed Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Improvements
Prevent Further Rollbacks, Repeals and Raids of Existing Motor
Carrier Safety Laws, Programs & Regulations: As part of the Fixing
America's Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act, Pub. Law 114-94),
safety scores in the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program
for trucks were removed from public view. Real-time safety data on
trucking companies should be made available to consumers and not hidden
from the public. Secrecy only serves to protect unsafe carriers and
will perpetuate unsafe practices.
Bigger trucks are bigger safety problems on our streets and roads.
Advocates strongly opposes special interest exemptions to Federal truck
size and weight limits. For this reason, we strongly oppose any
exemptions for specific state roads or industries that further erode
Federal limits. Overweight and oversized trucks are extremely dangerous
to motorists and cause excessive damage to our badly deteriorated roads
and bridges. According to the 2017 Infrastructure Report Card just
released by the American Society of Civil Engineers, one out of every
five miles of highway pavement is in poor condition and 23 percent of
our bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.
Furthermore, Advocates objects to any Federal mandate that allows
for double 33 foot trailer trucks in every state. A ``Double 33'' is a
truck pulling two trailers with a total length of at least 84 feet--the
height of an 8-story building. A Federal mandate will preempt laws in
states that currently do not want Double 33s. In countless public
opinion polls, there is consistent and substantial opposition to
bigger, heavier and longer trucks no matter the state, political
affiliation, age or race of poll respondents.
Additionally, truck driver fatigue has been a well-known, well-
studied and well-documented safety problem for decades. In a 2006
driver survey prepared for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety
Administration (FMCSA), 65 percent of drivers reported that they often
or sometimes felt drowsy while driving and almost half said they had
fallen asleep while driving in the previous year. The recent FMCSA
study on the HOS safety reforms instituted by the Obama Administration
was fatally flawed from the start. Special trucking interests opposed
to this commonsense proposal to give truck drivers two nights off after
exceedingly long weekly working and driving hours stacked the deck with
requirements for unreasonable, unrealistic and unattainable parameters.
Moreover, the U.S. DOT Inspector General made no conclusions whatsoever
regarding the safety benefits of the Obama HOS reforms but merely
rubberstamped the process that produced the defective study. Suspension
of the Obama HOS safety reforms will perpetuate driver fatigue and will
lead to more deaths on our Nation's roads. Advocates opposes all
exemptions to critical aspects of HOS rules which prevent driver
Direct NHTSA to Issue Standards for Automatic Emergency Breaking
(AEB), Lane Departure Warnings Systems and Other Crash Avoidance
Technologies for Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMVs): Equipping commercial
motor vehicles (CMVs) with crash avoidance technologies such as
Automatic Emergency Breaking (AEB) will undoubtedly save lives and
prevent crashes. Based on NHTSA data from 2003 through 2008, large
trucks are the striking vehicles in approximately 32,000 rear-end
crashes resulting in 300 fatalities and injuring over 15,000 people
annually. NHTSA estimates that, in the future, more advanced AEB
systems could save 166 lives per year, a reduction of 57 percent from
current annual fatalities, and prevent 8,361 injuries per year, a
reduction of 56 percent, in certain types of crashes. In 2015, NHTSA
granted a petition for rulemaking filed by Advocates and other safety
organizations, but the agency has not yet initiated rulemaking. NHTSA
should issue a safety standard requiring AEB technology on CMVs. In
addition, research has also shown that lane departure warning systems
have the potential to substantially reduce crashes. These systems,
along with other crash avoidance technologies that are proven to
improve safety, should be standard equipment in all CMVs.
Require Speed Limiting Devices on All Large CMVs: Currently, speed
limiting technology is already installed on many large CMVs that limit
the speed the truck or bus can travel. Speed limiting devices have been
required to be installed on trucks throughout the world. The European
Union, Australia, and Japan all require speed limiters on large trucks.
A 2012 study commissioned by FMCSA showed ``strong positive benefits
for speed-limited trucks.'' In fact, the study found that trucks not
equipped with a speed limiting device had a speed-limited-relevant
crash rate that was nearly two times higher than those trucks equipped
with the device. However, FMCSA and NHTSA have proposed a weak
regulation to require only new CMVs with a gross vehicle weight rating
(GVWR) of more than 26,000 pounds to be equipped with a speed limiting
device. The proposed rule is needlessly narrow and should apply to all
large CMVs on the road and not just new trucks.
Upgrade the Rear Underride Guard Standard and Require Side Guards
for Large Trucks: According to NHTSA, annually there are 72 light
vehicle occupant fatalities in crashes into the rear of trailers with
rear impact guards with passenger compartment intrusion. NHTSA has
proposed to update the current standard for underride guards that went
into effect 20 years ago to match the Canadian standard that went into
effect in 2007. However, test results show that rear underride guards
that exceed the Canadian standard are already available and currently
in use. It doesn't make safety sense for the agency to require an
inadequate and ineffective rear underride guard. Also, NHTSA has yet to
issue a rule requiring side underride guards although they are used by
industry and in other countries throughout Europe.
Oppose Teen Truck Drivers: We strongly object to any expansion of
the pilot program established by the FAST Act that permits veterans of
the armed forces or members of reserve units who are ages 18-20 and are
trained in a Military Occupational Specialty to operate a CMV or
similar vehicle in interstate commerce. FMCSA should be directed to
conduct a study of the safety performance of CMV drivers age 18-20 that
currently operate in intrastate commerce. The minimum age for obtaining
a commercial driver license (CDL) should not be reduced without a
thorough study and evaluation of the safety performance of intrastate
truck drivers under the age of 21.
Address Persistent Backlog of Overdue Motorcoach Safety Rules
Required by Congress: During the early morning hours of March 2, 2007,
on Interstate 75 in Atlanta, Georgia, a motorcoach carrying members of
the Bluffton University baseball team crashed killing five players and
two other occupants. This horrific event, as well as other similar
tragedies, spurred Congress to finally act to improve motorcoach
safety. The safety deficiencies of motorcoaches identified in countless
recommendations and crash investigations by the National Transportation
Safety Board (NTSB) languished for years, even decades, until deadlines
for agency action were enacted in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the
21st Century Act (MAP-21, Pub. Law 112-141). Yet, as evidenced by the
recent motorcoach crash in Biloxi, Mississippi, which killed 4
individuals and injured dozens more, riding a bus is still too
dangerous and it is unacceptable to continue to put motorcoach
occupants at risk. Although the ten year anniversary of the Bluffton
University recently passed, NHTSA has yet to complete several of the
lifesaving rulemakings required by MAP-21 despite a Congressional
deadline of October 2014. The agency must finish these actions without
Before today is over at least 10 people will needlessly die in a
truck crash. Annual truck crash fatalities are equivalent to a major
airplane crash every other week of the year. There are cost-effective
solutions at hand to improve the dismal truck safety record but
congressional leadership is needed to stop special interest attacks on
safety rules, to monitor the agency's programs and priorities as well
as to mandate overdue and critical regulatory advances.
Jacqueline S. Gillan
Former Administrator, NHTSA
cc: Members of the Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant
Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security
Property Casualty Insurers
Washington, DC, March 13, 2017
Hon. Deb Fischer,
Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine
Infrastructure, Safety, and Security,
Hon. Cory Booker,
Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine
Infrastructure, Safety, and Security,
Dear Chairman Fischer and Ranking Member Booker:
The Surface Transportation Subcommittee has scheduled a hearing on
truck safety advancements resulting from the Fixing America's Surface
Transportation (FAST) Act and potential reforms moving forward. As
insurers of both the trucks that move everything Americans buy and the
cars that share our roads with them, the Property Casualty Insurers
Association of America thanks the Committee for holding this hearing
and offers some thoughts on improving highway safety.
Over the last few years, both the frequency and economic severity
of highway accidents have increased. Several trends appear to be
combining and magnifying their individual impacts. Among the most
disturbing is the increasing frequency of distracted driving,
especially related to smart phone use. Drivers must realize that no
text is worth risking lives to answer while driving, yet the problem
continues to worsen.
Other trends with compounding safety impacts include increased road
congestion as more vehicles share limited and deteriorating highway
infrastructure. Decriminalization of marijuana has led to more
incidents of driving under the influence of that drug. Even distracted
walking has become significant, with people literally walking into
moving vehicles because they are so engaged in their smart devices.
At the same time, several trends are increasing the cost severity
of highway accidents. Medical inflation increases the cost of treating
accident injuries just as it increases the cost of treating diseases.
New safety systems help save lives but make cars and trucks much more
expensive to repair following accidents. Lawsuits target truck owners,
even though most car-truck accidents are caused by car drivers, putting
upward pressure on the cost of running these businesses, which pushes
up the consumer cost of the goods these trucks carry.
One action the Committee can take immediately is to follow up on
the FAST Act provisions to improve the Compliance, Safety
Accountability (GSA) Program and make sure that all phases of the
study, report and improvements are completed as soon as possible. Those
improvements should include increased access to GSA information for
insurers to accurately evaluate the safety of motor carriers and their
PCI supports highway safety improvements, many of which are simply
common-sense. All vehicle occupants should wear safety belts to let the
vehicle's safety technology protect them. Another example, that also
highlights the power of the free market, is the Insurance Institute for
Highway Safety's work with trailer manufacturers to improve trailer
underride guards, to prevent cars from sliding under trailers during
rear-end collisions. A third example would be creating the same kind of
stigma against texting while driving that exists against drunk driving.
These and other safety improvements can do a lot to improve safety
on our Nation's roads. This hearing will provide important support for
those safety efforts.
Senior Vice President,
Federal Government Relations.
Alliance for Driver Safety & Security (Trucking Alliance)
Washington, DC, March 14, 2017
Hon. Deb Fischer, Chair,
Hon. Cory Booker, Ranking Member,
Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine
Infrastructure, Safety, and Security,
Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation,
Dear Chairwoman Fischer and Ranking Member Booker:
You and your fellow committee members are to be commended for
convening today's hearing, entitled ``Continuing to Improve Truck
Safety on our Nation's Highways.'' Many Senators attended the hearing
and we are particularly proud of the testimony given by Mr. Jerry
Moyes, Chairman Emeritus of Swift Transportation, as his company
recently became a member of the Trucking Alliance. We respectfully
request that this letter be included in the hearing record.
About the Trucking Alliance: The Alliance for Driver Safety &
Security, also known as The Trucking Alliance, is a leading proponent
of safety reforms in the freight transportation industry, which
supports policies to:
Increase the safety and security of commercial truck
Reduce both the number and severity of large truck
Improve highway safety for the general public, who share the
road with the freight transportation industry.
To achieve these objectives, all Trucking Alliance companies adopt
core principles of operation within their businesses, all of which
exceed minimum Federal requirements to operate as a motor carrier.
These Trucking Alliance core principles are:
1. Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs)--Have certified ELDs installed
in all interstate trucks to verify hour-of-service compliance.
2. Truck Speed Limiters--Regulate trucks with speed limiters at a
maximum speed of no more than 65 mph.
3. Hair Testing--Recognize hair testing as an alternative to a urine
exam, in conforming to federal commercial driver pre-employment
drug testing processes.
4. Public Liability Insurance--Support for increased insurance
levels for motor carriers, in order to adequately cover the
medical expenses incurred by victims of large truck accidents,
while also supporting reasonable state-based tort reform
5. Onboard Truck Safety Technologies--Install collision mitigation
systems on all new interstate trucks purchased.
6. Driver Hiring and Training Programs--Utilize extensive pre-
employment screening and conduct continuing driver training
that exceed Federal standards.
Trucking Alliance companies collectively employ 68,000 professional
drivers, management and logistics personnel in 49 states, who utilize
52,000 trucks and 175,000 semitrailers and containers, to safely and
efficiently deliver products throughout North America.
Importance of Continuing Truck Safety Reforms: The Federal Motor
Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates the commercial trucking
industry. The FMCSA's primary mission is to reduce crashes, injuries
and fatalities involving large trucks and buses.
The FMCSA's mission is critical to public safety and Congress must
support the agency's efforts to continue achieving its mission.
Consider that the commercial trucking industry delivers more than 13
billion tons of freight across America's highways each year. Yet, as
essential as the industry is to the standard of living we enjoy, large
trucks are involved in too many accidents, injuries and fatalities.
For example, in 2015, according to U.S. Department of
Transportation (USDOT) data, there were 414,598 large truck accidents
on U.S. roadways, in which 116,000 people were injured and 4,067 people
lost their lives. Of these fatalities, 594 were commercial truck
drivers. Our industry cannot tolerate such tragic numbers each year.
That's why the Trucking Alliance urges Congress to support the
following FMCSA proposed rules and regulations, all of which can help
reduce large truck crashes:
Implement the Electronic Logging Device Mandate: In 2012, Congress
mandated that all commercial trucks install electronic logging devices
(ELDs) to verify a commercial driver's hours-of-service rules. The
FMCSA has promulgated regulations to implement this congressional
mandate by December 17, 2017. Truck driver fatigue is a major factor in
large truck accidents and ELDs will help ensure that drivers comply
with the law and don't exceed their hours behind the wheel. Congress
must make sure that any effort by industry groups to stop, reverse, or
delay the ELD mandate are denied.
Grant a ``Petition for Exemption'' to Recognize Hair Tests for Pre-
Employment Commercial Driver Drug Test Requirements: Section 5402 of
the ``Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act,'' (FAST Act)
contained a provision that directed the Department of Health and Human
Services (HHS) to issue scientific and technical guidelines for hair
testing, as a method to detect controlled substance abuse. After these
HHS guidelines are adopted, FMCSA should initiate a rulemaking to
permit hair testing as an acceptable alternative to urine testing for
commercial driver drug testing requirements.
But before FMCSA completes this rulemaking, the FMCSA Administrator
should grant a Petition for Exemption recently filed by several
carriers that currently utilize hair testing for pre-employment
purposes. Hair testing is a more reliable (albeit twice as expensive)
method for identifying lifestyle drug users, rather than the less
expensive and less reliable urine exam. If granted, these petitioners
may use a hair analysis, rather than spending unnecessarily on a second
urine exam, to meet Federal drug test requirements for commercial
driver job applicants, while FMCSA completes its rulemaking.
Require Speed Limiters on Commercial Trucks: FMCSA has proposed
that large commercial trucks be equipped with a speed limiting device.
The Trucking Alliance supports a Federal regulation to require that all
commercial trucks of the specifications proposed, whether engaged in
interstate or intrastate commerce and whether new or old, be equipped
with a truck speed limiter device. Further, the Trucking Alliance
supports a truck speed limiter rule in which the maximum speed setting
is no more than 65 mph.
Reduce the Price of the Federal Pre-Employment Screening Program
(PSP): The FMCSA created the PSP to help carriers make more informed
hiring decisions, by providing secure, electronic access to the FMCSA's
commercial driver's five-year crash and three-year inspection history.
However, less than 1 percent of the industry utilizes these
reports. This is because the third party contractor that implements the
program charges $10 per report, a fee that is cost-prohibitive to many
motor carriers and more than twice the price that the contractor
originally promised, once its start-up costs were recovered. The FMCSA
should renegotiate the PSP fee to encourage more industry participation
and help carriers make more informed hiring decisions.
Increase Minimum Financial Requirements for Motor Carriers: In
2012, the ``Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act'' or MAP-
21, authorized the Secretary of Transportation to evaluate whether the
minimum financial requirements for motor carriers, set at $750,000 in
1980, should be increased. Further, Section 32104 of MAP-21, also
directed the Secretary to issue a report on the appropriateness of
these requirements, every 4 years, starting April 1, 2013, meaning that
the Secretary should issue an updated report this year.
The Trucking Alliance maintains that a motor carrier should be
sufficiently insured to compensate the victims of truck accidents, as
Congress set forth when it set the minimum insurance requirements more
than 35 years ago. These minimum insurance limits have not been
increased since, and are inadequate to meet the purposes for which
Congress intended. These minimum insurance requirements should be
In Conclusion: The Trucking Alliance carriers embrace the ``Road to
Zero'' national initiative. Sponsored by the National Highway Traffic
Safety Administration, FMCSA, and the National Safety Council, this
campaign will utilize private and public sectors to design plans to
fully eliminate all highway accident fatalities, including large truck
More safety reforms should be adopted, not only to ensure the
greater safety and security of commercial drivers but the general
public. The commercial trucking industry has a moral and ethical
responsibility to fully eliminate fatalities and injuries caused by
large truck crashes and to achieve a safety performance record equal to
the commercial airline industry.
Madame Chairperson and Ranking Member Booker, your committee has a
critically important role to help this industry achieve that worthy
Lane Chandler Kidd,
Alliance for Driver Safety & Security (The Trucking Alliance).
The Chairman. Thank you. And with that, I will turn to our
Dr. Jovanis, yesterday, the TRB released a report of the
Motor Carriers Safety Research Analysis Committee, and the TRB
recommended that FMCSA aggregate and integrate enhanced crash
data, such as time of day or crash location. Can you please
explain the benefits of enhanced data to how FMCSA allocates
its resources and targets its safety initiatives, please?
Dr. Jovanis. Well, speaking in general, the location in
which crashes occur have historically been an important
contributing factor in the event occurring at all. So not
having detailed information about the characteristics of the
site in which crashes occur allows us to only get a partial
view of what factors may be contributing, and that biases us in
terms of considering potentially effective countermeasures to
improve safety at those locations. So location and time of day
are really kind of essential building blocks for any road
The Chairman. Is that used now?
Dr. Jovanis. It's used on the highway side extensively, but
inconsistently in the datasets that are provided from a variety
of sources that FMCSA uses. And I would say we probably had
four or five committee members from different perspectives and
different technical backgrounds all strongly support the idea
of developing this annualized consistent provision of a
database that would provide useful information about heavy
vehicle truck and bus crashes.
And we understand the difficulties of doing it, but we have
some very specific recommendations in the report that kind of
provide some leading indicators to areas where we might begin
the discussion. And we look forward to meeting with FMCSA and
talking in more detail about how this could be eventuated.
But the idea of FMCSA does not currently have an annual
inventory of data available on large truck and bus crashes in
detail that can be used by outside agencies, researchers from
universities, and other kinds of organizations. And our
committee feels pretty strongly that that would be a benefit.
The Chairman. Thank you.
And, Captain Turner, in your written testimony, you discuss
the importance of fully funding the streamlined Motor Carrier
Safety Assistance Program grants at the FAST Act levels. Can
you provide an example for the Subcommittee on the challenges
that local law enforcement officers will face if the matter is
not corrected if it's not funded?
Captain Turner. And I'll speak on behalf of the Kansas
Highway Patrol in answering your question. We had one division,
our Breath Alcohol Unit, in part moved out from underneath our
command because it was no longer tenable to be able to support
that group with the funding, and that was about eight
Additionally, we had another three positions that we've
been unable to fill. So, number one, to answer your question,
we experienced some jobs lost and the inability to refill those
positions. And I can tell you that it's not a one year issue.
It's not if the money comes back next year that we'll
immediately be able to fill those positions.
Traditionally, state agencies will reallocate those
resources to other enforcement endeavors, and it takes years to
build that program back up and make sure those state agencies
have the confidence that that money will be there and that
we'll have the stability to be able to fund those positions and
put people in those positions and either provide that education
and outreach or the enforcement.
So we'll lose two things, one is jobs lost, and then
ultimately we're also going to lose the program outcomes,
whether it's educational programs or the enforcement. And in
speaking to my colleagues throughout the Nation, they're
experiencing those same difficulties and challenges.
We formulate our budgets a year in advance, and we already
have the outcomes that are expected of us, and now we have the
outcomes expected without the resources to be able to complete
The Chairman. So in your outcomes that you expect and that
you've published, how does that jive with what's happened?
You've lost jobs, you've seen limits in the education services
that you can provide. So have you reached your outcomes? Do you
have the data for that right now?
Captain Turner. Not yet. We haven't been able to complete
the year yet, but I can tell you that we've had to divert
resources. And just as an example, the jobs lost is obviously
one of the most striking things for us because those are
difficult to refill, but some of the very first programs you
lose are your educational programs. So what we lose is the
positive interaction with drivers and the trucking industry,
whether it's through our associations or through their truck
driving championships and those things where we bring them
together in a positive environment, and you end up with just an
inspection-related situation where there's always tension.
I mean, obviously, it tries to go well, but you have a
driver and carrier trying to get somewhere and affecting their
bottom line, and you have an inspector or enforcement officer
trying to determine whether or not there are any violations.
And that, even in the best case scenario, is still tenuous. So
we lose that positive outcome as well.
The Chairman. Thank you.
And, Mr. Moyes, can you discuss how Swift is investing in
new and advanced technologies to advance safety? And in
particular, can you tell us more about the smart trucks that
you mentioned in your testimony and the advanced technology
equipped on those trucks?
Mr. Moyes. Well, as I stated, Chairman, in 2013, as I
stated, in 2013, we started bringing these new trucks in. We're
on a 4-year trade cycle, so it's kind of hard to replace 18,000
trucks any sooner than that. And we're seeing tremendous
improvement in our safety.
And also they're improving on their technology. The
collision avoidance systems, the first 2 years would not detect
anything but metal, a deer or something like that it wouldn't
detect. Well, the new ones do. So not only are we trying to
keep up on technology, they're helping us with better
In 2015, we went to the dash camera, and we've seen great
improvement on that, but here we are just 2 years later, and
we're already--we've got better technology. We're behind the
system on just something we just got a year ago. So we agreed
to keep it on the edge of technology because it's good for the
public and it's good for our shareholders.
The Chairman. Thank you, sir.
Senator Booker. Chairman Fischer, if it's OK with you, I
would like to yield my time to Senator Blumenthal, and I'll
jump to the end of the line.
The Chairman. Senator Blumenthal.
STATEMENT OF HON. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL,
U.S. SENATOR FROM CONNECTICUT
Senator Blumenthal. Thank you very much, Madam Chairwoman.
I want to begin by thanking you for being here today and
thank my colleague, Senator Wicker, for his work in trying to
protect our roads and drivers and passengers from double 33s,
which pose a clear danger to not only safety, but the well-
being of our infrastructure. At a time when we are debating how
to safeguard and enhance our infrastructure, these double 33s
in fact would exact a toll of $1.1 billion, according to the
United States Department of Transportation in a 2015 study.
Let me ask you, Mr. Moyes, you have stated that your
priority is safety and that's why your company no longer drives
doubles, even double 28s. Are you concerned about the deadly
toll that double 33s would take if they were instituted?
Mr. Moyes. Yes. In my testimony, I state that approximately
78 percent of the trucks on the road today are what we call the
truckload industry, and almost all of them are pulling the 53-
foot trailer. If the 33 was allowed, that would make it 66. So
as we compare a 53 to a 66, it would force our industry to go
at least 50 percent to the 33-foot trailers. Number one, we've
very concerned about the safety, the work comp, the work comp
was considerable higher. The drivers don't like to pull them.
So there are a lot of disadvantages to it.
But also the capital investment in this thing. If we had to
change--you know, we run 60,000 trailers, and if we had to
change half the fleet to the twin3s, we would have a huge
capital change, and that's money that we couldn't be using in
other sources of improving technology also. So thank you. I
hope that answered.
Senator Blumenthal. Exactly. A number of you have talked
about driver fatigue as a potential safety threat. Any of us
who have been on this committee have heard that kind of remark
again and again and again, and yet what we have found across
the country, and including Connecticut, where a lot of our rest
stops are along our interstates, is that there is pressure, in
fact, to reduce the size and sometimes eliminate those rest
Mr. Moyes, let me ask you, and then perhaps others on the
panel, has lack of available safe truck parking, particularly
overnight parking, impacted Swift's drivers? And during your
years as a driver, did you ever experience a situation where
you had to park somewhere that you felt was unsafe simply to be
properly rested to safely drive?
Mr. Moyes. Well, back when I used to drive I don't think we
had rest areas, but that's a different story.
Mr. Moyes. So, yes, the need for rest areas is considerable
out there today. A lot of states, when they went through the
slow economy, have shut down rest areas, and it is extremely
critical that they become more--we get more of them out there.
A lot of this has fallen to the truck stops now. They have
expanded. You can call and get reserved places for parking, but
that's kind of a Band-aid to the problem, but there is
certainly a huge need for additional rest areas.
Senator Blumenthal. The availability of those rest areas is
critical to the safety of the driver, but even more so, the
motoring public because if they are unrested, they pose a
threat to everybody.
Mr. Moyes. Not only that, they park in areas that might not
be the most safest area, you know, along the roadsides, at
exits, and stuff, that might not be the safest place to be
Senator Blumenthal. So you would urge states to make them
more available, would you not?
Mr. Moyes. Correct.
Senator Blumenthal. Any other members of the panel have
comments on this issue?
Senator Blumenthal. Thank you, Madam Chairwoman.
The Chairman. Thank you, Senator.
STATEMENT OF HON. ROGER F. WICKER,
U.S. SENATOR FROM MISSISSIPPI
Senator Wicker. Thank you. And thank you to members of the
panel. Let me follow up then on Senator Blumenthal's question
with regard to the twin3 trailers. For those who weren't able
to follow the debate we had 2 years ago in the Senate, a twin3,
it is a truck tractor pulling two 33-foot trailers, for a total
truck trailer combination length of at least 84 feet and the
height of an 8-story building.
Now, there are some people who have proposed a Federal
mandate for double 33s as opposed to the current system we
have, where states get to choose. A Federal mandate would
preempt laws of states that do not want them on the road,
overriding state legislative decisions to protect public
What we do know is this, double-trailer trucks have an 11
percent higher fatal crash rate than single-trailer trucks. We
also know, from information provided to us by the Committee,
that recent data show that in 2015, the number of large trucks
involved in fatal crashes increased by 8 percent, large trucks.
And then we learned from testimony today from Dr. Lund that the
number of people who have died in large truck crashes was 22
percent higher in 2015. So this has been a helpful hearing in
Now, Mr. Moyes, it's not just your company--and remind us
again about the size of your company and the number of trucks
that Swift employs.
Mr. Moyes. We run about 18,000 trucks driving five to six
million miles every day.
Senator Wicker. And you started off driving your own truck
and built it to that.
Mr. Moyes. Yes.
Senator Wicker. It's not just you, though, it's 14 other
trucking firms that have submitted a letter to the Senate
opposing the use of double 33s and citing issues of safety and
damage to infrastructure. Is that correct?
Mr. Moyes. Yes.
Senator Wicker. Now, I think you've adequately explained
the industry concerns. And let me make sure I understand, your
personal history in terms of your company, you were driving the
twin 28s in your company, and you decided to go to the 53-foot
single trailers. Is that correct?
Mr. Moyes. Yes, that is correct.
Senator Wicker. And, of course, that involved quite an
investment no doubt. But you also concluded that it was safer,
that these 53-foot trailer, tractor trailer rigs were safer. Is
Mr. Moyes. Yes, that was the number one issue.
Senator Wicker. And can you talk about the operation of the
doubles in traffic with merging and passing and intersections
and dealing with other traffic?
Mr. Moyes. Well, it is considerably more at risk or
complicated, especially, you know, if you're trying to pass a
trailer that, you know, that's 84-foot long, or longer than a
53 with a tractor, you know, it's just considerable more risk
in the passing. The intersections would be, you know, kind of
the same situation.
Senator Wicker. And your testimony is that if the Federal
Government goes in and tells states they can't make their own
decisions here, that people like your company will be forced
economically to massively go to these twin 33s, and so there
would be a massive amount of new twin 33s on American roads. Is
that your testimony?
Mr. Moyes. Yes, that is correct. These are my numbers, but
there would be 50 percent of the truckload industry probably
would have to go to them, and they're 70, 78 percent.
Senator Wicker. Let me ask Dr. Lund this question. Could
you define for the Committee what an out-of-service vehicle
Dr. Lund. Yes. An out-of-service vehicle violation is one
that's serious enough that the truck is taken off the road. So
if the brakes are out of adjustment enough or there are
steering problems or lighting problems, that the truck is
unsafe on the road, it's put out of service.
Senator Wicker. And there is an Insurance Institute for
Highway Safety study that concluded that a truck with an out-
of-service violation is 362 percent more likely to be involved
in a crash. Would you support that figure?
Dr. Lund. That is correct. Those are the data from our most
recent research in North Carolina.
Senator Wicker. And one of the key findings of the U.S.
Department of Transportation in a recent truck size and weight
study was that double-trailer trucks had the highest percentage
of out-of-service violations of any other truck--of any of all
of the truck configurations used on our highways. Would you say
that is accurate also?
Dr. Lund. I don't know that study, but that would be a
problem. I trust the statistics from the Federal Government.
And the higher rate of out-of-service would indicate a higher
risk of crashing on the highway.
Senator Wicker. Thank you very much.
And thank you, Madam Chair.
The Chairman. Thank you, Senator Wicker.
STATEMENT OF HON. MAGGIE HASSAN,
U.S. SENATOR FROM NEW HAMPSHIRE
Senator Hassan. Thank you, Madam Chair and Ranking Member
Booker. And thank you to all of the panelists for being here
The trucking industry plays a critical role in our national
economy, clearly, and also in my home state of New Hampshire.
As technology evolves, we will need to make important
decisions, as we're all talking about right now, that will
impact the safety and well-being of this industry and our home
At the end of the Obama administration, the Department of
Transportation announced a multistakeholder working group on
automation that consisted of various public and private sector
stakeholders as well as innovators, labor, and academia.
As Governor of New Hampshire, I saw firsthand the value in
bringing people together to face challenges head-on and have
the kind of discussions that can lead to really meaningful
So the question for all of you is really, do you believe
this kind of voluntary working group can be an effective tool
to shed light on how we can go about modernizing our freight
systems and exploring autonomous technology? And do you hope to
see the working group continued under the current
Any one of you can start. Any takers?
Mr. Hart. I would like to answer that question, a very good
question. Automation is very challenging. The good news is
there is more automation; the bad news is there is more
automation. Because of the complexity of it, I think it's going
to be essential to have a collaborative solution, and I
encourage the collaboration of all of the players who have a
dog in the fight, and that's quite a few players. So, yes, it
can't be done without extensive collaboration, so I certainly
Senator Hassan. Thank you. Anyone else want to chime in?
Dr. Lund. If I may.
Senator Hassan. Yes.
Dr. Lund. Certainly, automation offers great potential for
reducing crashes, making everybody safer. We saw that in our
research in North Carolina with less advanced technology. The
new technology coming has great potential. But we do need to
work together to get that on the road in ways that people will
trust it, especially automated vehicles. If we're going to have
trust in it, then people have to talk to one another and
understand what it is that we're putting on the highway.
Senator Hassan. Thank you.
Mr. Moyes. I would just like to add to that that one of the
biggest problems is the infrastructure, and it has a direct
relation with safety.
Senator Hassan. Yes.
Mr. Moyes. So we can have all the technology and keep up
with technology, but, you know, the administration is looking
at huge numbers for infrastructure that is deeply needed out
there, and it does have a direct effect on safety.
Senator Hassan. Well, thank you. And actually I was going
to get to infrastructure in my next question, so I think you've
answered it nicely and clearly. You know, it's something that I
think every member of the panel agrees and all the Governors I
talk to agree we really need, and it's critical for our economy
and for our safety.
The rest of my questions really had to do with questions
that Senators Blumenthal and Wicker have already addressed.
I'll just add my name to the list of people who think that the
double 33s are a really bad idea. You know, in New Hampshire,
we've got a variety of kinds of roads, we've got mountainous
terrain, and I would be very, very concerned about the impact
of double 33s on our roads. And I also share the concerns that
some of you indicated about the economic pressures of having to
go to double 33s.
So I thank you all for being here. And if anybody would
like to make any other comments on either stakeholder process
or double 33s or infrastructure, we have a little time left,
but I'm really done with my questions. Thank you.
Dr. Jovanis. On the question of automation, I think some of
the studies that I've seen show that the real impact of
automated vehicles and potentially automated trucks is going to
be out in the future. And in the interim, you have to deal with
a mixed vehicle fleet of not automated or not autonomous and
driver-driven vehicles. So while there is no question that they
offer tremendous potential payoff, they're a ways down the
And I just would like to come back to Chairwoman Fischer's
comment about data and analysis. Sometimes I think in the
field, the whiz-bang and the technology gets all the press, but
the hard work is digging around in the data to try to figure
out what the problems are today.
Senator Hassan. Yes.
Dr. Jovanis. And so I guess I would feel like I wasn't
doing my job if I didn't try to remind people of that point and
emphasize the importance of improvements in data, improvements
in data analysis, and particularly in crash data on heavy
Senator Hassan. Thank you very much.
The Chairman. Senator Klobuchar.
STATEMENT OF HON. AMY KLOBUCHAR,
U.S. SENATOR FROM MINNESOTA
Senator Klobuchar. Thank you very much, Chair Fischer and
Ranking Member Booker for holding this important hearing today.
I think we all know the trucking industry plays a critical role
in getting goods to market, and trucks carry approximately 75
percent of domestic cargo by value, and there are over 539,000
interstate motor carriers and intrastate hazardous materials
motor carriers operating in our country.
I appreciated that Senator Fischer raised the issue of the
state commercial motor vehicle safety program and some of the
loss of funds and what we should be doing to change that.
I wanted to focus on a specific issue with you, Mr. Moyes,
and that is the human trafficking. Last year, the FAA Extension
Act included a provision that I championed with Senator Warner
for training flight attendants on spotting human trafficking.
It actually came from the flight attendants, was supported by
Like flight attendants, truck drivers are on the front
lines. I know that human trafficking prevention is also a
priority at Swift Transportation. Could you talk a little bit
about your efforts as we work with the Truckers Against
Trafficking group? Thank you.
Mr. Moyes. Thank you. And we are involved with the Truckers
Against Trafficking, we're very involved with that. We have a
program that we run all our drivers through of what they can do
and what they can be recognized out there in the system. We are
very supportive of the other organization that Demi Moore is
involved in, I can't tell you what it is, but----
Senator Klobuchar. Right.
Mr. Moyes. But we're very involved and recognize it's a
huge problem, and we're trying to do what we can, you know,
from our company and our industry also. Our industry is very
involved in it.
Senator Klobuchar. OK. Very good. Thank you. You're also an
industry leader in terms of safety. Could you give me some
ideas about how you can increase productivity without
compromising safety? I think that's always the tradeoff we
Mr. Moyes. Well, it's not a tradeoff because safety is
always number one and you've got to recognize that. There are a
lot of things that we can do to increase our productivity. Our
drivers, even though they're allowed to work 10, 11 hours a
day, we're not utilizing that much. So there are a lot of
things we've got to do as an industry, work with our shippers
and our consignees to better utilize the equipment and the
drivers that we have today, and that's an area that we need to
As I stated earlier, we lose a lot of productivity because
of the infrastructure, and I think that could be an
improvement. But I just want to come back, you can never debate
safety versus productivity. I mean, safety is always number
Senator Klobuchar. OK. Thank you.
Mr. Hart, I included a provision in the FAST Act on
distracted driving with Senator Hoeven to make it easier to get
the grants. The NTSB recently found that the percentage of
drivers who admitted to surfing the Web while driving rose from
13 percent in 2009 to 30 percent in 2015. Data from 2015 showed
that 116,000 people were injured in crashes involving trucks,
which was a 57 percent increase.
Mr. Hart, eliminating distractions was included in the
NTSB's Most Wanted List of transportation safety improvements
this year. What more can be done to reduce distracted driving?
Mr. Hart. Thank you for the question. This is going to be
quite a complicated endeavor. I analogize it to drinking and
Senator Klobuchar. Right.
Mr. Hart. Back when I was a kid, I remember it used to be
funny to see someone who was drunk, and they had TV shows where
they had comedy, you know, comedians, who were drunk, and you
laughed at that, and that was funny. Now it's not funny, it's
not cool to be drunk. That was a whole change of culture that
MADD started and that was a grassroots change in culture.
I think we're going to have to have a similar grassroots
change in culture because so many people--we have now fatal
accidents in every mode of transportation due to distraction,
mostly personal electronic devices. So a lot of people say
they're so good at it, ``I can do this.'' NHTSA statistics show
that you are 23 times more likely to have a crash if you're
texting, not 23 percent, but 23 times. It's a huge--and it's
going to take a cultural change for people to stop thinking,
``Yes, I can multitask.''
Senator Klobuchar. What ideas do you have on how we get
Mr. Hart. Well, that's the challenge, is, how can we--it's
going to take more--again, grassroots campaign, people who lose
loved ones because somebody is texting, and they're going to
start going after it like MADD did because of the same kind of
reasons. It's going to take a very intensive effort at all
levels, but it's going to have to be a grassroots campaign.
Senator Klobuchar. And some of it state by state I think as
far as what we can do.
Mr. Hart. Right.
Senator Klobuchar. Any other comments on this? Dr. Lund?
Dr. Lund. Yes. I would like to use that to jump off to the
fact that distracted driving is more than the electronic
devices that are coming into our vehicles. Drivers get
distracted by lots of things. And what's important is the new
technology that's coming. I want to give that a plug. The front
crash prevention systems, forward-collision warning, autonomous
emergency braking, things like that, which can take action,
bring drivers' attention back to the road when it's needed, or
potentially mitigate the crash on its own.
So I think one of the things we need to keep in mind about
distracted driving is it's more than the electronic devices. We
need to help prevent these crashes no matter why people are
Senator Klobuchar. Well, there is also technology that
we've been--the University of Minnesota has been studying to
try to--with kids especially, if you can shut off the devices
when they're driving, not the devices you're talking about, of
course, but the personal devices, and other things you could be
doing to use technology to warn them not to use them. So, OK,
The Chairman. Thank you.
Senator Booker. Mr. Moyes, I just love your story, and what
a great American story of starting a company, building it out,
creating jobs, economic activity. You should be obviously very
proud of what you've accomplished, and I appreciate you taking
the time to be here.
I'm curious. I want to really pin what my friend Roger,
Senator Wicker, was pushing at, which is this idea for you to
stay competitive, you're basically testifying that if the twin
33s come about and other companies are using them, you will
feel, just to be competitive, and other companies like you,
will be forced to try to compete to take up the same kind of
more dangerous vehicles.
Mr. Moyes. Yes, that is correct. We would be forced to
change up to 50 percent of our fleet to the twin 33s if that
was the case just to stay competitive, yes.
Senator Booker. So you favor the Federal Government not
allowing these vehicles to be on the road.
Mr. Moyes. That is correct. Yes, sir.
Senator Booker. So in some cases, and help me understand
this, because I've seen industry, for lots of different
industries, come to us asking to roll back regulations, and
some industries come in and ask for regulations, in other
words, to create a Federal standard, so you don't have a
patchwork in different states.
And you're a person, clearly your company has made a
tremendous investment above your competitors, in other elements
of safety in your vehicles. Would you say that's correct?
Mr. Moyes. Yes.
Senator Booker. Does that give someone who is trying to cut
costs and compete with you on cost, an unfair advantage, you're
putting all this safety and reducing risks, but some of these
other safety measures that are not being mandated that you're
doing voluntarily and making the roads more safe, does your
competitor who is not making these investments have sort of an
unfair advantage even though they're rolling at a greater risk
to the overall public?
Mr. Moyes. I hope I'm answering your question. These
investments in safety have to have a payoff. I mean, it's not
only the safety to the motoring public, but it's to our
shareholders. And we have an extremely high self-insurance
premium. So by bringing on more and more of this technology,
reducing our accidents, yes, number one, it's for the motoring
community, but, number two, it's for our shareholders. And so
we have to watch that very closely. I mean, but that has never
interfered with us in technology today. We've always looked at
the safety first.
Senator Booker. And I just want to ask Dr. Lund, because he
sort of gave this amen chorus, he was shaking his head and
smiling. Sir, do you agree with what he was saying? In other
words, that he is making a good business decision here by
making investments in other companies or not?
Dr. Lund. Absolutely. One of the things that can put trucks
out of service is getting into a crash and the damage.
Senator Booker. Yes.
Dr. Lund. So that's lost productivity when that happens. So
there is an economic benefit as well as the safety benefit.
Senator Booker. Maybe I can ask the two of you then,
because a lot of the crashes that we have, a trucking company
isn't necessarily covering the full cost of that crash. A lot
of it falls on the taxpayers. So if you put in safety equipment
and you reduce the number of crashes, clearly, I trust Mr.
Moyes, he's built a great American company, that he's doing a
cost-benefit analysis, it's better to be safer.
But what is happening in a free market right now is that
taxpayers, they're externalizing the cost of crashes because
according to the data that I have in front of me, a multi-
vehicle truck accident can cost over $20 million to compensate
families and pay for the impact on our infrastructure. However,
the requirement to carry at least $750,000 of minimum insurance
has not been increased for 30 years, even to account for
inflation, which has led to taxpayers having to foot the bill
in the aftermath of these truck accidents.
That to me, I'm actually a really big free market guy, but
I don't like it when corporations sort of foist their cost,
externalize their expenses, and I see that in all kind of
industries. I mean, the Passaic River in New Jersey is a
testimony to companies in the past externalizing their costs
onto future generations who now can't fish or swim or recreate
in that river.
So is this a case--I ask Mr. Moyes and Dr. Lund both
together, a business person and an independent sort of watchdog
group, is that truly a problem? Because I know in my state when
these trucks, I mean, explosive impact for--they might not have
the safety provisions there. My taxpayers in New Jersey end up
picking up the costs of that damage.
Mr. Moyes. Yes. We would certainly support an increase in
the minimum on truck liability insurance. I think the number is
$750,000 today is the minimum. Our company carries I think it's
almost $250 million. And that's an expense, but, I mean, you
know, we have to----
Senator Booker. So you insure your trucks for above the
Mr. Moyes. Dramatically, yes. I think it's $250 million we
insure for. But, you know, you have an accident, and, you know,
$750,000 don't go very far today, you know, if you've got some
multiple injuries and a horrible example of some deaths.
Senator Booker. OK. I'm over my time, so I'll wait.
The Chairman. Thank you, Senator Booker.
STATEMENT OF HON. SHELLEY MOORE CAPITO,
U.S. SENATOR FROM WEST VIRGINIA
Senator Capito. Thank you, Madam Chair. And thank you all
for being here. So I wasn't here for the testimony, but we've
been listening down in our office, and this is an issue I think
of great importance to many, many people.
I would like to talk about an issue that I've gotten
involved in, and that's removing drivers from the roads who are
under the influence of drugs or alcohol because of how key it
is to reducing highway fatalities and crashes. In last year's
THUD bill, I supported language that brings greater attention
to this issue. And I've worked with Senator Udall on
legislation authorizing Federal research critical to
eliminating drunk driving, and in the FAST Act, a number of
safety provisions were included to enable states to eliminate
some of those--to implement some of those.
But as we know, driving under the influence is a
preventable crime, and we must do everything we can to
eliminate this. And I was wondering what kind of initiatives
you've seen either at the State level or within your companies
or at the NTSB that has worked successfully and where you think
the next level we need to go to try to get a better handle on
this issue. Anybody have a--I'm not asking specifically. Does
anybody want to jump into that?
Mr. Hart. Thank you for question. It's a multifaceted
issue, and we've been pushing it on several facets. So, for
example, there's the technology, there's the DADSS, that would
not let you drive if you're----
Senator Capito. Right.
Mr. Hart. There is education. There is enforcement. We're
also pushing--we've got our--we made ourselves very unpopular
with a lot of people by pushing to move the BAC limit from .08
to .05, and now it appears that Utah may be the first state in
the country to do that. So it's a multifaceted issue, and we're
pursuing all of those facets.
Senator Capito. Anybody else? Comment? Dr. Lund?
Dr. Lund. Yes. I think one of the things the research has
shown clearly is that if you want to reduce this kind of
behavior, you've got to increase the certainty that people get
caught and that they are convicted if they are caught. So that
would be one of the first things, is to look at states. They're
not always popular, but sobriety checkpoints we know increase
the likelihood that people are detected for driving under the
influence, and once they're detected, then they can come into
the system. The truck driver--trucking companies can know that
their drivers have the problem. So the first thing is to
increase the certainty.
Other things that we can do for drivers who have been
caught, first offender alcohol interlock laws are being shown
to be effective, and that gets people into the system. So again
you know about them. I think that's good.
I support all the things that Chairman Hart said as well,
but I would just add those.
Senator Capito. Anybody else have a comment? Yes, Mr.
Mr. Moyes. I've just got some statistics, that .08 percent
of our industry that had accidents were involved in alcohol,
and .09 percent was involved with drugs, which is that's too
many, but it's a very, very small number. But one of the things
that hasn't come up here is testing for hair follicles, and I
think that's something you'll be hearing furthermore on, and we
strongly support that. We're----
Senator Capito. Do you random test at your company? I'm
sure you do.
Mr. Moyes. Say again?
Senator Capito. Do you random test, drug test, at your----
Mr. Moyes. Oh, yes.
Senator Capito. Yes.
Mr. Moyes. But the hair follicle is much more accurate----
Senator Capito. Accurate?
Mr. Moyes.--than the other testing methods.
Senator Capito. Captain Turner?
Captain Turner. Yes, ma'am. One of the most critical and
important things any traffic enforcement or law enforcement
agency does is traffic enforcement on drug or alcohol-impaired
drivers. And this issue, specifically coming back to us,
requires a couple things. It requires a well-trained officer
and it requires an officer looking for the driving cues that
are published by NHTSA, and the ability to be able to enforce
in that manner.
So for us, and this goes back to the funding issue that we
talked about earlier, now we're losing the ability to
effectively train our officers because we don't have enough
funds coming in to be able to sponsor those programs. And,
again, the anomaly where those are used for high-priority
programs where we have our officers have the ability to go out
and target the vehicles committing violations around large
trucks, whether that's another truck or it's a passenger car,
that typically those violations are moving hazardous
violations. And now your violations are moving hazardous
violations, are an indicator of someone who is impaired and/or
distracted or any other issue that may cause that crash. So for
us, that funding issue is very critical to be able to support
those programs and the specific question that you asked.
Senator Capito. All right. Thank you. I think that does it
for me because I'm down to 8 seconds. Thank you so much.
The Chairman. Thank you, Senator. We've been joined by the
Chair of the Committee, Chairman Thune.
STATEMENT OF HON. JOHN THUNE,
U.S. SENATOR FROM SOUTH DAKOTA
Senator Thune. Thank you, Senator Fischer. Thanks to you
and Senator Booker for holding this important hearing. These
transportation safety issues have been and will continue to be
a major focus of this committee, and after more than 30 short-
term extensions, this committee and others provided much needed
certainty with the passage of the FAST Act in 2015, and the
Commerce Committee's work accounted for almost half of the 500
or so pages in that final bill and really did, I think, help
improve safety not just for motor carriers, but across the
various modes of transportation while promoting the efficiency
of our transportation network and helping with project
Many of the Members of this Committee worked across the
aisle to contribute to the improvements achieved in the FAST
Act. Senator Fischer was key to the reforms in the Federal
Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Senators Wicker and Booker
formed a team to reauthorize rail safety programs, and many
more made contributions to ensure greater safety throughout our
transportation system. I even think Senator Inhofe, who is now
on our Committee, may have helped there when he was over as
Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee. But
despite that progress, there is always more that we can do, and
recent trends suggest that casualties on our Nation's highways
Trucking is a vital part of our economy. It's a Federal
responsibility to ensure the safety of the citizens and goods
that move across our highways, and in the FAST Act, our safety
improvements included boosting funding for truck safety
enforcement, providing reforms to help states make a
significant impact with their infrastructure enforcement funds,
and ensuring more stringent drug testing for truck drivers.
Although the FAST Act was a step in the right direction,
this committee will continue to look for opportunities for
potential reforms and improvements to truck safety, and today
is a part of that process, providing a good occasion to hear
from a range of witnesses with various approaches and ideas on
how we can best improve safety as it relates to motor carriers.
So I want to thank all of our witnesses for being here
And, Mr. Moyes, nice to see you again. It was great
visiting your facility out in Arizona a few months back. And I
appreciate your contributions to this hearing. And thanks to
the entire panel.
I do want to ask Captain Turner, you mentioned in your
testimony the important reforms and funding allocations
achieved in the FAST Act particularly as it relates to the
Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program, or MCSAP.
Unfortunately, those changes have yet to be realized as we
operate under Continuing Resolution. So could you speak in more
detail to how the lack of certainty at the Federal funding
level is impacting states like yours and others?
Captain Turner. Directly to Kansas, the number one issue
for us is going to be jobs lost. And Chairman Fischer asked
that question earlier, or a similar question, and that is
without question the number one problem that we are going to
So as we lose people through attrition and directly
related, I have had three people retire as an example. And I
have their positions allocated, but now I don't have the funds
to fill those positions. And I have to hold off filling those
positions and the job and then the outcome and the work product
that they would normally perform, because I don't have any
certainty on whether or not those funds are going to be there.
We build our grants, we submit our grants and our budgets,
which are expected outcomes, and the money we expect to receive
based on any highway funding authorization, and when we submit
those, we expect that those funds will be there and plan both
our activities and the jobs that we'll have over the course of
the next year, and then when they're not there, we have to play
So when we lose people, we have to endure that shrinkage
until such time as the money is there, but often even if the
money comes in the next year, we have already lost the people.
And trying to get a new FTE through a state or bring a person
back into that problem to be able to fulfill that takes years.
It's not just a one-year fix, it takes years to get that
position back, if ever, and it takes years to get that
productivity back, if ever.
Senator Thune. And just very quickly, if I could, just have
each of the members of the panel, as this committee looks at
transportation issues in the 115th Congress and where we can
make safety improvements, maybe could you each provide your top
suggestion of where we can best direct time and resources to
increase truck safety? We'll start on the left. Mr. Hart.
Mr. Hart. We have what's called a Most Wanted List that has
several areas that would affect trucking safety. The three I
talked about already were fatigue, distraction, and impairment.
We're also looking at collision avoidance systems. We're
looking at medical fitness for duty. There are a number of
issues that we are looking at. I'm not sure we're in a position
to prioritize them because there are quite a few that we
suggested on our Most Wanted List.
Captain Turner. CVSA would need reliable and consistent
funding. We need consistent regulations that allow us to have
enforcement be consistent throughout the Nation. And then we
need the ability to inspect en-route motorcoaches to keep the
Dr. Jovanis. I'll speak personally as a researcher in the
field for the last 35 years. I think the most important aspect
is to develop high-quality data on truck crashes and their
occurrence and their characteristics and to provide follow-up
capability to analyze those data to get a much better picture
nationally of where truck crashes are occurring and the causes
and contributing factors of those crashes.
Mr. Moyes. Senator, I think, as mentioned earlier, the
infrastructure is probably the biggest area that we feel that
could really help the safety and help the productivity of our
industry. It just costs us a tremendous amount of money from
the equipment and maintenance side as well as productivity.
One of the other areas that has not been brought up--and I
talked to Dr. Lund here before--is rear-end crashes, where we
are rear-ended. We have seen a huge increase. I don't have the
statistic, but we have like one or one and a half a day of
vehicles running into the rear end of us. And we're doing some
things with better rear end equipment to help that, but it's
just texting and driving on the phone, and it's a huge issue.
And even though we're not at fault, our vehicle is down for a
day or two, and it creates huge problems.
Dr. Lund. Thank you. And I want to thank Dr. Moyes for that
reference to rear underride guards. I certainly support that.
We've recently come up with our own tests and are identifying
trailers that meet what we call a TOUGHGUARD standard. And
thanks to companies like this, more trailer manufacturers are
doing a good job there.
But you asked for what would be the number one thing we
could do. Probably the first thing that we could do that would
make a big difference is to reduce the speeds on our highways.
We have states where the speed limit is 80 miles an hour, and
that's the speed limit for trucks. So we would think--you know,
trucks weigh a lot, and that plus the speed means their kinetic
energy is huge, and that's what has to be managed within
crashes. So that would be the number one thing.
But I would like to put in again a plug for the new
technology that's out there that can help us all: forward-
collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure
prevention, things like that.
The Chairman. Senator Duckworth.
STATEMENT OF HON. TAMMY DUCKWORTH,
U.S. SENATOR FROM ILLINOIS
Senator Duckworth. I want to thank the Chair and Ranking
Member for convening this important hearing on improving
highway safety. In Illinois and across the Nation--you know,
when I travel across Illinois, I hear a call for Congress to
finally come together and work to modernize our country's
infrastructure, including fixing our highways and bridges.
A critical component of this effort must be enhancing
transportation safety systems across all modes of transit.
Three years ago, we were tragically reminded of consequences of
lax safety systems when a truck driver who had slept less than
5 hours in the 37 previous hours leading up to the crash plowed
into emergency vehicles on Interstate 88 near Naperville in
Illinois. This driver, who was operating his truck in violation
of safety regulations, killed Mr. Vincent Petrella, an Illinois
tollway employee, and severely injured Illinois State Trooper
Douglas Balder, who then spent 6 weeks in a medically-induced
After the deadly accident, we learned that the truck driver
was employed by a company that was classified by regulators as
high risk due to a lengthy record of failing to follow the
rules. In fact, even after this crash, this high-risk company
was able to reverse an effort by the Federal Motor Carrier
Safety Administration to shut it down, and it shut down as a
company only after the firm's private insurance company
canceled coverage, that the carrier was finally forced to shut
its operations. Clearly, significant work remains to be done
when it comes to improving trucking safety in my state and
throughout the country.
Chairman Hart, I would like to examine an important issue
your testimony raised, modernizing our safety system to move
beyond static compliance to active prevention. If I understand
your testimony correctly, studies by NTSB and National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration have found that universal
adoption of existing collision avoidance technologies, such as
autonomous emergency braking, reduced the number of crashes and
saved lives. Is this correct?
Mr. Hart. Yes, we have quite a bit, quite extensive, and
solid evidence that there is lifesaving promise in new
Senator Duckworth. Thank you. As we look to promote
adoption of a beyond compliance program that emphasizes
achieving real-world safety improvements, what would be your
top three recommendations for Congress, whether it's through
oversight or legislation, to achieve this important national
Mr. Hart. We know that improving safety by improving
regulations is slow and cumbersome. We are trying to--we're
encouraging voluntary use of things like forward-collision
warning systems, forward-collision avoidance systems, so that
we can do things that--because even the best driver, even the
driver who is not impaired, who's not incapacitated, who's not
distracted, even on their best day, they may can still make
mistakes and still have accidents. So that's why we're looking
for new technologies that would help prevent collisions.
Senator Duckworth. What is it that we in Congress can do to
help move that forward though?
Mr. Hart. Incentivize the voluntary use of new
Senator Duckworth. Through grant programs? Through what?
Mr. Hart. Well, it's hard for us to be that prescriptive
because that's not really our bailiwick, but we would just say
in general anything that can help incentivize the voluntary
improvement of safety technologies would be a plus.
Senator Duckworth. OK. Thank you.
I did want to talk to one other thing. This is a priority
of mine and families across the Nation, making sure that every
child uses lap and shoulder safety belts when traveling to
school, whether by car or by bus.
I recently had a large commercial motor carrier
manufacturer visit my office, and I was very pleased to hear
that industry is making progress in implementing safety
upgrades that recent Congresses have mandated over the past few
years. It appears that American companies are proud to put our
constituents back to work, creating an even better product that
is more reliable and far safer.
So, Chairman Hart, my question is pretty straightforward.
What makes a large school bus so different from a commercial
truck or a motor carrier? In my home state, we are home to IC
Bus, a school bus manufacturer that proudly features a three-
point safety belt system on new models.
So, clearly, new technology exists to make lap belts and
shoulder belts a reality on all new school buses rolling off
assembly lines. The question is, do we have the will? From your
perspective, as Chairman, what should Congress be aware of as
we consider this question? How do we make usage of seat belts
in school buses universal?
Mr. Hart. We have spent extensive energy on that issue. One
of the areas of resistance is the fact that school bus
transportation is by far the safest means of transportation to
and from school, safer than driving with your parents, safer
than walking, safer than any other way to get to and from
school. That's part of the reason for the resistance to the
additional expenditures for belts.
Our accident investigation experience has shown that belts
are important in two instances where we're seeing serious
problems: one is rollovers and two is side-impact crashes. The
compartmentalization that's put into the buses today deals with
longitudinal crashes. The belts are needed for side impact and
rollover. So lap belts are great; lap and shoulder belts are
far, far better.
We encourage any jurisdiction that's going to look at any
belts at all to look not only at lap belts, but to look at lap
and shoulder belts to be able to handle not only the
longitudinal ones, which are already taken care of largely by
compartmentalization, but also to handle side-impact and
Senator Duckworth. Thank you. And I'm out of time. Thank
The Chairman. Thank you, Senator Duckworth.
I would like to thank all of our panelists today. This has
been a very interesting and informative committee hearing.
Senator Wicker. Can I ask one follow-up question?
The Chairman. Can you submit it for the record, please?
Senator Wicker. OK.
The Chairman. OK. Thank you.
Senator Wicker. Dr. Lund and Dr. Jovanis stay after class.
The Chairman. Mr. Wicker would like to visit with you
The hearing record will remain open for 2 weeks, and during
this time Senators are asked to submit any questions for the
record. Upon receipt, the witnesses are requested to submit
their written answers to the Committee as soon as possible.
Once again, I thank you all for being here. We are
[Whereupon, at 4 p.m., the hearing was adjourned.]