Support falters for nationwide version of ride-along program

| 9/18/2006

Despite a successful trial in Washington state, the Government Accountability Office is not confident in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s ability to manage a nationwide program that would put enforcement officers into the jumpseats of trucks.

According to a GAO press release, officials were thrilled with the results of “Ticketing Aggressive Cars and Trucks,” or TACT. The pilot program – funded by more than $800,000 from state and federal funds, more than a half of which came from FMCSA – enabled Washington State Patrol officers to ride along with commercial drivers to nab four-wheelers who drove irresponsibly around trucks.

However, the accountability office said it was unsure of whether FMCSA had the know-how to pull off the program on a nationwide scale.

“While FMCSA designated a liaison to learn about TACT-like initiatives, GAO continues to have concerns about FMCSA’s limited experience with these initiatives,” the press release stated.

Additionally, the office called into question the financial resources FMCSA has dedicated to Share the Road Safely, a larger FMCSA program under which the TACT pilot program was funded.

“FMCSA plans to spend the majority of its fiscal year 2006 STRS funds on initiatives that do not have evaluations showing their impacts,” the report said.

Instead, GAO is advising FMCSA and NHTSA to continue encouraging individual states to develop similar programs on their own.

Although the pilot program in Washington began receiving federal funding in 2005, it had actually been in existence – albeit on a smaller scale - since July 2003. The program – known originally as “Step Up and Ride” – was started after a trooper noticed that a large number of fatal accidents involving commercial vehicles were caused by four-wheelers.