Truckers say next highway bill an opportunity to evaluate FMCSA effectiveness

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(July 29, 2014 - Grain Valley, Mo.) – The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, OOIDA, said today that the next highway bill is an opportunity to improve highway safety and to take a hard look at the effectiveness of the practices of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

“The FMCSA has directed its focus for too long on the wrong areas when it comes to highway safety,” said OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer. “The focus should instead be on causes of crashes rather than micromanaging policies that have a negative impact on safety.

OOIDA is concerned that the agency is currently overly reliant on measuring compliance with mathematical formulas, instead of true crash indicators, and often misses opportunities to address root causes behind safety problems.

The Association would like to see regulatory policies and enforcement efforts evaluated for their effectiveness in reducing crashes. And it would be preferable for any new initiatives to be based on independent and sound science that looks at the true impact on reducing crashes and on drivers.

One other recommended change would be for FMCSA to not just listen to, but actually adopt some of the proposals from the members of the industry it regulates.

OOIDA member Louis Esposito, Duanesburg, NY, shares his insight as a truck driving educator on the issue of new driver training. Congress directed the agency to create a mandate on training standards, but still has not proposed a rule to this date.

“Training should have minimum requirements and it should only be done by qualified trainers,” he said. “Too often I see newbies on the road with little training or having been taught by those with only a few months of training themselves.”

Esposito has had 45 years of accident-free driving.

“Instead of just filling seats and continuing the constant driver turnover, I think there should be more pride and more attention to doing the right thing in training.”

New driver training is not the only issue the Association would like to see more focus on in the future. OOIDA and professional drivers developed the Truckers for Safety Agenda,  This campaign looks at ways to improve highway safety without imposing burdensome regulations in a variety of areas.

“It’s not necessary to put small-business truckers out of business in order to hold public safety as the highest priority,” said Spencer.

“Insisting on continuing this approach will lead many of the safest to leave trucking altogether, and  this will create a void filled by inexperienced and unproven drivers, thus undermining public safety even more.”

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is the only national trade association exclusively representing the interests of small-business trucking professionals and professional truck drivers. OOIDA was established in 1973 and is headquartered in the greater Kansas City, Mo. area. The Association currently has more than 150,000 members from all 50 states and Canada.

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