THE Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has been very busy over the past two and a half year, and the pace isn't slowing, FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro said in her state-of-the-agency address to National Tank Truck Carriers during the association's 63rd annual conference May 22-24 in Baltimore, Maryland.
Ferro pointed out that many of the regulations and programs that are taking effect now were initiated by the Bush Administration. The agency is following three core principles as it implements a new strategic plan: Raising the Bar.
First, FMCSA will raise the bar for entry to the motor carrier industry. “The learner's permit for new drivers is one example,” she said. “We're requiring tougher state testing standards. We've also put into place stronger fraud prevention measures that include a vetting program to identify carriers that change names to hide safety violations.”
Second, FMCSA's objective is to establish and maintain higher safety standards to remain in the industry. “There is no better example than the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program,” Ferro said. “We're helping carriers identify safety problems, and we are using enforcement to make sure problems are addressed. We're continuing to improve and refine the CSA processes.”
Electronic on-board recorders (EOBRs) also provide a tool to help carriers and drivers. Ferro said 95% of the trucking industry would be covered by the EOBR mandate, and a final rule should be published in spring 2012. Carriers probably would have about 2 ½ years to comply.
The third and final core principle is to identify and remove the high-risk carriers, drivers, and service providers. “CSA certainly is part of that, because it gives us a good indication of the companies that pose the greatest risk to the public,” Ferro said.
A national registry of certified medical examiners will help. Physicians would be tested and certified, and they would be required to upload Department of Transportation physicals. “We believe this rule will enable us to close medical loopholes and address doctor-shopping issues,” she said.
Ferro said FMCSA realizes tank truck carriers already set the safety bar higher. “In fact, nine out of 10 operators are doing just fine,” she said. “However, the bad actors undercut every other company in this industry.”
Ferro added that FMCSA wants to continue partnering with industry on safety improvement efforts. “The tanker rollover program is a phenomenal example of what we can do together,” she said. “The Cargo Tank Workshops are another example. FMCSA and NTTC have conducted more than 2,000 of those workshops.”
FMCSA is reaching out to shippers, as well as carriers. “They need to know what we are trying to achieve with regard to transportation safety, and they need to be part of the effort,” Ferro said. ♦
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