Compliance at the expense of safety? Lawmakers get it

By David Tanner, Land Line senior editor | 4/29/2015

Panelists appearing before a congressional subcommittee on Wednesday testified that certain FMCSA regulations aimed at restricting drivers and motor carriers have unintended consequences for highway safety. In many cases, members of the committee agreed.

OOIDA Senior Member Danny Schnautz was part of a five-member panel testifying before the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Highways and Transit on Wednesday, April 29.

In his testimony, Schnautz described how it was possible for a motor carrier to be safe but have a poor safety rating under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program.

“Under its current methodology, CSA inaccurately paints safe small carriers as unsafe, reducing access to business and opening them up to misguided enforcement activities,” Schnautz said in his testimony. “Meanwhile, truly unsafe carriers that crash frequently get ignored.”

Schnautz described how CSA has raised the bar of compliance to a “standard of perfection” that simply cannot be met.

“One of OOIDA’s greatest concerns is that the FMCSA’s approach will force many of the safest drivers and carriers out of the industry because it inhibits them from being successful small-business owners,” Schnautz said. “These are small-business truckers with every incentive to operate safely.”

The hearing, titled The Future of Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety: Technology, Safety Initiatives and the Role of Federal Regulation, was chaired by Subcommittee Chairman Sam Graves, R-Mo.

Lawmakers ran a gamut of trucking topics such as hours of service, CSA, enforcement, truck size and weight, cross-border trucking, detention time, entry-level driver training, motor carrier insurance requirements, electronic logs and technology.

Other panelists included Tom Kretsinger, president of American Central Transport on behalf of the American Trucking Associations; Captain Bill Reese of the Idaho State Police on behalf of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance; Brian Scott, president of Escot Bus Lines on behalf of the United Motorcoach Association and LaMont Byrd, director of safety and health for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

Editor’s note: Watch for more coverage of this hearing and the issues that were discussed.

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