At DOT, our job is to help save lives by reducing serious crashes, injuries, and deaths in all modes of transportation.
For the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, that means focusing on the safety of America's buses and large trucks. The agency pursues this mission through research, education, regulation, and enforcement.
And its work has been effective. We have seen a 24 percent reduction in truck-related fatalities during the past 4 years, which is great progress that can be attributed to FMCSA, its safety partners, and the unsung heroes of the road--the nation's commercial motor vehicle drivers.
Last Friday, FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro was at the Mid-America Trucking Show, re-introducing drivers to the agency and its commitment to road safety. Her message was simple: FMCSA is working hard to improve safety on America's roads, but we also need America's commercial drivers to do their part.
America’s roads and highways are the safest they’ve ever been, but the folks at FMCSA know we cannot rest when it comes to safety. The path to reducing truck-related crashes is clear: raise the bar to enter the commercial motor vehicle industry; maintain high safety standards; and remove unsafe carriers, drivers, and trucks from operating.
I appreciate Administrator's Ferro candor in taking this analysis one step further by adding, "I strongly encourage you to make sure you use this time wisely."
A similar understanding applies to FMCSA's work to prevent distracted driving. Administrator Ferro outlined the research we've conducted and the rules we have put into place to prevent commercial drivers from texting and using handheld cell phones behind the wheel. But, as Administrator Ferro noted, "This is a message we must continue to spread far and wide because many drivers – including passenger car drivers – still need to be educated."
Through the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program (CSA), FMCSA have established an enforcement platform that has greatly strengthened the focus on at-risk, unsafe carriers. CSA is proving the concept that what gets measured gets done: carriers are using the safety measurement system or SMS to monitor and improve their scores.
In the past year, our SMS web site recorded 27 million visits, and we hear from carriers that drivers are paying more attention than ever to driving safely. In fact, in just a year, driver violation rates have decreased by 12 percent. This is a terrific development, and we applaud the drivers who are making changes to be safer.
Administrator Ferro also discussed how FMCSA continues to move forward with other key strategies to protect the safety of truck drivers and all motorists. The news of FMCSA research in one important area--wait times at loading and unloading facilities--should provide greater encouragement to our nation's commercial drivers:
"We believe that more can be done to reduce the impact of excessive wait times on hours of service. Later this year, FMCSA will begin a multi-year study to examine the nature of the problem of detention or waiting times. This study will help us understand what action, if any, is warranted."
In the end, of course, FMCSA can only be one part of the safety equation; America's drivers make the difference. We know it's not easy, and we appreciate their work.