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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, Office of the Secretary, Office of Public Affairs, Washington, DC 20590

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, June 8, 2000
Contact: Jim Pinkelman
Tel.: 202-366-0660
FHWA 40-00

New Transportation Department Report Shows How European Practices Could Improve Commercial Vehicle Safety in U.S.

Federal Highway Administrator Kenneth R. Wykle and the Acting Deputy Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Administration, Clyde J. Hart Jr., today announced a new report that shows how the United States could adopt some practices and policies in Europe to enhance commercial vehicle safety.

"The United States and Europe share common commercial vehicle safety issues, and this report provides descriptions of many of the best practices and policies in Europe that could be adapted for use in the United States as we continue working to improve commercial vehicle safety," Wykle said.

The FHWA's Office of International Programs produced the report, "Commercial Vehicle Safety Technology and Practice in Europe." The FHWA developed the report with the former Office of Motor Carriers, now the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The report identifies emerging safety systems, technologies and issues and offers recommendations for enhancing commercial vehicle safety in the United States in the areas of human factors, equipment, infrastructure, and organizational structures.

The report grew out of a panel convened by the FHWA's International Technology Exchange Program to explore ways in which European practices and policies in commercial vehicle safety could be applied in the United States. The panel focused its research on France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden. Panel members represented FHWA, state Departments of Transportation, truck owners and operators, and private sector consultants.

Driver management in Europe begins with mandatory and extensive training. In the United States, areas for advancement include:

  • Driver education, specifically by developing a well-rounded, standard curriculum.

  • Performance-based driver assessment, using performance data to better understand the needs of drivers and carriers and to develop public policy.

Truck manufacturers in Europe have developed and are deploying new vehicle safety systems, ranging from air bags to collision-avoidance systems. Areas for advancement in the United States include:

  • Development of systems standards, notably crashworthiness of cabs, human-machine interface, and other relevant standards.

  • Use of crash investigation for vehicle design.

  • Focus on user acceptance of safety systems to ensure maximum use.

Within the European Union, the European Commission creates safety regulations that apply throughout the member nations. The report notes several models of safety compliance approaches, such as the recent Dutch innovation that combines roadside and in-company inspections. Areas for advancement in the United States include:

  • Alternative and complementary inspection activities that focus on understanding how to augment motor carrier safety programs to allow for possible self-certification of motor carrier safety systems.

  • Improved use of in-company inspections and third-party advisors to improve motor carrier regulatory compliance and allow government resources to be focused on high-risk carriers.

The report is available at http://www.international.fhwa.dot.gov. Copies also are available by contacting international@fhwa.dot.gov.

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