As the new year begins, many challenges are awaiting the Department of Transportation (DOT).
To tackle some of the largest issues facing the nation’s roads, the Inspector General’s (IG) office within the DOT distributed a report that pinpoints the various challenges the agency faces in the new year.
Released by the IG in December, the “Continuing Actions To Strengthen Highway, Transit, and Pipeline Safety” portion of the report focuses on how the agency can enhance safety oversight for motor carriers, improve motor carrier data collection and implement more comprehensive motor coach safety rules.
“A safe and well-managed transportation system is key for the [United States] economy and the quality of life for the traveling public,” Inspector General Calvin Scovel III said in the report. “The DOT provides over $70 billion annually to fund a wide range of programs. Consequently, it is critical for the department to provide rigorous stewardship of taxpayer funds while carrying out its mission.”
Scovel went on to stress the importance of the need for heightened safety and the key initiatives surrounding the trucking industry.
“Safety remains the Department’s top priority, and DOT has a number of initiatives underway to enhance safety … on the ground,” Scovel said. “With regard to highways, transit, and pipelines, the Department must address our longstanding recommendations and new safety oversight requirements in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21).”
Heightened Safety Oversight
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is working to remove high-risk carriers from the road. To do so, the DOT must take further steps to implement MAP-21’s large truck and bus safety provisions, which include several rulemakings, programmatic changes, and reports to be completed in the next two years, the IG noted in its report.
Motor Coach Safety Rules
While the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has the lead on MAP-21 requirements to strengthen motor coach safety regulations for improved driver and passenger protection, passenger evacuation and crash avoidance, the FMCSA is still developing a rule the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommended to address apprehensions regarding passenger carrier leases. The FMCSA is also preparing to commence a mandatory rulemaking on safety inspections of passenger carrying vehicles.
Enhanced Motor Carrier Data Collection
Also included in the report was how the FMCSA published its Unified Registration System (URS) final rule last August, which should restructure and enhance the motor carrier registration process and enable the agency to maintain more accurate industry information. This initiative includes automatic deactivation of DOT numbers for carriers which fail to update company information every two years. The FMCSA also must make sure that the data quality in the measurement system it uses to evaluate motor carrier safety performance falls under the Compliance Safety Accountability (CSA) program and complete nationwide deployment of interventions, such as on- and off-site reviews, which are in the works to be done in 2014.