The Honorable Deb Fischer, Chair
The Honorable Cory Booker, Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
Washington, D.C. 20510
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 drivers,
• Reduce both the number and severity of large truck accidents, and
• 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 measures.
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 US 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% 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 increased.
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 crashes.
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 goal.
Lane Chandler Kidd Managing Director
Alliance for Driver Safety & Security (The Trucking Alliance) Washington, D.C.