Editorial: A Useful Discussion on Safety
This Editorial appears in the March 20 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.
Last week, we cheered the apparent demise of a federal regulatory provision regarding hours of service. Now we’d like to salute a positive development: a recent discussion on truck safety before a Senate subcommittee.
Business executives, academic researchers and state and federal civil servants told members of a Commerce, Science and Transportation panel about the practical steps they’d like to see taken to improve highway safety (story, p. 5).
Sen. Deb Fischer, who chairs the subcommittee, said her approach to the issue is for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration “to conduct a more transparent, inclusive and responsive regula- tory process with stronger cost-benefit analysis. Data and methodology transparency will lead to rules that actually benefit safety.”
We applaud this straight forward, direct guidance from the Nebraska Republican as a welcome antidote to the lust for complexity that has sometimes gripped FMCSA’s proceedings.
We found instructive the comments from Jerry Moyes, founder of truckload carrier Swift Transportation Co., who told about tracking the safety aspects of a switch from smaller pup trailers to 53-foot models. Moyes also described his company’s investment in active safety systems and other technologies.
Christopher Hart, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, also urged broader use of safety systems for trucks — technologies we have seen in person and find to be impressive and useful.
Hart said he would like to see better fatigue management programs. We think the liberalization of using the 34-hour restart provision will help with that.
Capping restart at once per week, as the now discredited provision did, will not lessen fatigue.
There was more talk of data-driven monitoring, and we can find room to agree with that.
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