Former congressman Norman Mineta presented his evaluation of the Office of Motor Carriers and Highway Safety to the House transportation subcommittee on May 26. The report, requested by U.S. DOT head Rodney Slater, came after 90 days of brainstorming with members of an appointed task force of safety experts from government, industry and the academic community.
On May 11, task force member Jim Johnston, OOIDA president, and Mineta discussed a number of critical subjects. Johnston told Mineta it is OOIDA's position that DOT's focus is misdirected. He cited the lack of entry-level truckdriver training. "If drivers were trained adequately in the first place, so much money wouldn't have to be spent catching offenders when they get out on the road," said Johnston. "The current focus is like bailing water out of the lake after the dam has broken. We started talking about this in 1991 and Congress has yet to follow through."
The OOIDA president also talked to Mineta about DOT's failure to place more emphasis on accident causation. "This ends up depriving us of information that really could help to focus on the real problem," he said.
Mineta's report recommended improving procedures to better determine crash causation; using a public rulemaking to incorporate out-of-service criteria, and establishing minimum training standards for truckdrivers. Also, he recommended extending enforcement to the "supply chain" to address loading/unloading, shipping and delivery scheduling practices. Mineta recommended the immediate improvement of the motor carrier safety hotline and better follow-up. The hotline concept was introduced several years ago by OOIDA and is now in operation, but the adequacy of its implementation has been questioned. Mineta also recommended OMCHS be left where it is and FHWA be renamed the Federal Highway and Motor Carrier Administration, with a new focus on trucking.
Mineta is now VP of special business initiatives at Lockheed Martin Corp.