With 2012 right around the corner, we're sharing some of the top accomplishments from each of DOT's agencies in this year. Today, we look at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
As its name indicates, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's primary mission is safety, and this team covers a lot of different territory to achieve their mission of preventing crashes related to commercial trucks and buses. FMCSA works to meet its safety goals by developing and enforcing safety regulations, targeting high-risk carriers and drivers, improving commercial motor vehicle safety technologies, and increasing safety awareness for commercial and non-commercial drivers.
In 2011 the folks at FMCSA had a lot to be proud of. Here is a brief sample of highlights:
- FMCSA strengthens motorcoach safety. FMCSA has moved aggressively this year to ensure that America's 750 million passengers on bus trips can be confident that every motorcoach they ride and every driver they meet is safe. The agency has stepped-up bus safety inspections nationwide. They've also provided new online tools like the Bus/Passenger Carrier website and the “Think Safety: Every Trip, Every Trip" safety checklist to help consumers choose a reliable carrier. FMCSA has also requested that Congress provide even stronger tools for putting unsafe bus companies out of business.
- Final rule bans hand-held cell phone use for interstate commercial truck and bus drivers: Research shows that using a hand-held cell phone while driving requires a commercial driver to take several risky steps beyond what is required for using a hands-free mobile phone, including searching and reaching for the phone. Because of the size of their vehicles and the weight of the loads they carry, when drivers of large trucks and buses lose their focus for even a few seconds, the outcome can be deadly. So in November FMCSA announced a final rule prohibiting interstate truck and bus drivers from using hand-held cell phones while operating their vehicles. The new rule will save lives and prevent injuries by helping commercial drivers stay laser-focused on safety at all times while behind the wheel.
- New U.S.-Mexico cross-border trucking program launched. The new program puts safety first and paves the way for Mexico to lift tariffs it imposed two years ago on more than $2 billion in American goods. By opening the door to long-haul trucking between the United States and our third largest trading partner--without compromising on safety--this program will create jobs and economic opportunities here at home. FMCSA met with lawmakers, safety advocates, industry representatives, and others to address a broad range of concerns, which they took into account to develop the new program. The final program also addressed recommendations from the more than 2,000 people who commented on the proposal.
The FMCSA team accomplished a lot in 2011, but I know that they won't rest in 2012. FMCSA will continue to push for the highest possible safety standards to protect bus passengers, and they will continue to work hard keeping commercial trucks operating safely on America's roadways.
My congratulations and thanks to Administrator Anne Ferro and everyone at FMCSA for a strong 2011.