SPECIAL REPORT: Highway Bill creates safety advisory committee

| 8/12/2005

The Highway Bill signed into law by President Bush on Wednesday, Aug. 10 calls for the creation of a Motor Safety Carrier Advisory Committee whose goal will be to examine ways to improve highway safety.

The committee would be made up of representatives from the trucking industry, highway safety groups, representatives from states and other groups that have a vested interest in how highways are run.

Todd Spencer, executive vice president of OOIDA, said the idea is a good one, though not really a new one.

"These were first created back in the Reagan administration and (OOIDA president) Jim Johnston participated in the first ones," he said. "The idea is to get highway safety people together and get them to look at ways highways could work better. And then the committee would make recommendations to the secretary of transportation."

Spencer said committees such as this provide the trucking industry with a good forum in which to educate others about the importance of highway safety for all vehicles, not just for trucks.

"This has always been a forum where items like driver training for all drivers can be discussed," he said. "It creates an opportunity for some proper perspective to be put on issues and to involve more players."

Rick Craig, OOIDA's director of regulatory affairs, said this could also be a forum for discussion issues such as enforcement against shippers and receivers who force carriers and drivers to violate serious rules.

"And more importantly, what occurs most often is violation of hours of service rules to get that load there and get it delivered," he said. "So this is a forum where that issue can be addressed at further length."

- By Terry Scruton, senior writer