SEC. 4001. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS. [Legislation]
This section would establish authorizations for various Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) expenses and programs. Administrative expenses would be codified as new subsection (i) of section 31104 of title 49, U.S.C.
SEC. 4002. MOTOR CARRIER SAFETY GRANTS. [Legislation]
Subsection (a) of this section would reauthorize the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP), with a number of changes. In addition to increases in authorized funding levels, the program would be amended to require States to include in their separate training manuals for the licensing examination to drive cars and trucks, information about best practices for safely sharing the road with trucks and cars, respectively. Also, States would now be required to enforce the registration requirements of 49 U.S.C. 13902 by placing out of service vehicles that are unregistered or operating beyond the scope of their registrations. States would also be authorized to use MCSAP funds to enforce traffic laws and regulations against non-CMVs when the behavior of drivers of smaller vehicles increases the risk of CMV accidents. This type of enforcement would not have to be combined with a CMV inspection, as is now required.
Currently, the Secretary may reimburse States, municipalities, and others for 100% of their "public education activities" related to high-priority and border activities. Under this proposal, funding at the 100% level would now be available for a wider variety of high-priority activities (research, development, demonstration, and public education) that are likely to address national safety concerns or be of general benefit. The Secretary could designate up to 10% of total MCSAP funding for these high-priority activities. The Secretary would also be authorized to designate up to 10% of MCSAP funds for a safety performance incentive program to reward States that showed improved vehicle safety. Although the Department has broad discretion to determine the details of the program, the Secretary would be required, at a minimum, to focus on reductions in the number and rate of fatal accidents involving CMVs. These grants would not require a matching contribution from State or local governments. Finally, the Secretary could designate up to $17,000,000 per year of MCSAP funds to conduct the new entrant motor carrier audits required by section 210 of the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999 (MCSIA). The funds would be allocated to States and local governments without a matching contribution. It is expected that these jurisdictions would normally use government employees, not contractors, to carry out the audits. Should they be unable to do so, the Secretary would be authorized, but not be required, to expend the funds directly to carry out new entrant audits in those jurisdictions.
Because of the size and comprehensiveness of the border grants program that would be created, there would no longer be a need for the border category of activities authorized under section 31102(f)(2)(B), and it therefore would be removed.
Subsection (b) would establish a grant program for State enforcement activities at the Canadian or Mexican borders. States would be authorized to use the grants for virtually anything related to CMV safety enforcement and compliance with State and Federal CMV requirements involving foreign motor carriers, including the purchase of land and buildings. However, grant recipients could not use Federal funds to replace State funds; they would be required to maintain the average level of border-related expenditures during fiscal years 2002-2003. In addition, and without complying with the requirements listed above, the Secretary would be authorized to make grants to States and other entities for a wide range of special activities relating to cross-border CMV operations.
Subsection (c) would authorize grants to enable States to improve the implementation of their commercial driver's license (CDL) programs. The Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act (MCSIA) and the USA PATRIOT Act imposed CDL requirements that demand additional expenditures by the States. These grants would ensure that States are able to keep pace with the responsibilities placed upon them. The Secretary would reimburse a State for no more than 80% of the cost of the improvements. The Secretary would have broad discretion to determine how best to distribute grant funds. Unlike border grants, however, CDL grants would not be used to purchase land or buildings. Each State would also required to maintain its previous level of CDL expenditures. In addition to the matching grants, the Secretary would be authorized to make grants to States and other parties for 100% of the cost of high-priority CDL activities. The Secretary could designate up to 10% of the funds available under this subsection for high-priority grants. The Secretary could also designate up to 25% of the CDL grant funds for discretionary allocations to State agencies, local governments, or other persons to deal with emerging problems. Funds requiring a matching contribution would be required to be allocated according to a formula to be developed by the Secretary. Up to 1.25% of the funds available for CDL grants could be deducted for administrative expenses. Finally, existing section 31107(c), which authorizes "Emergency CDL grants," would be removed because the CDL grant program created by this subsection serves the same purpose of ensuring that States can improve their CDL programs.
Subsection (d) would amend the penalty provisions of the CDL statute (49 U.S.C. 31114). Currently, the Secretary is required to withhold 5% of certain Federal-aid highway funds for the first year of State noncompliance with the requirements of the CDL program, and 10% for the second and subsequent years. Because these sanctions would have severe consequences for State highway programs, the Secretary may be reluctant to invoke them. Section 31144 would therefore be revised to direct the Secretary to withhold "up to" 5% or 10% of the target funds. This would give the Secretary greater flexibility, and thus greater leverage, to enforce compliance with the CDL requirements.
SEC. 4003. HOBBS ACT. [Legislation]
Subsection (a) would amend the Hobbs Act to make explicit the interpretation given to that act by a series of decisions of the U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal.
In 1966, when the Department of Transportation (DOT) was created, Congress transferred responsibility for regulating motor carrier safety and driver qualifications from the former Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) to the Department. See Department of Transportation Act, Pub. L. 89-670, Sec. 6(e)(6)(c), 80 Stat. 939, codified as revised at 49 U.S.C. 351(a). Those functions are now vested in FMCSA.
Sections 351(a) and 352 of title 49 provide for the same method of judicial appeal from actions based on these transferred functions as would have been required had the functions remained with the ICC. Prior to 1966, ICC orders were reviewed by three-judge District Courts, with a right of direct appeal to the Supreme Court. In 1975, Congress altered the path of review for ICC actions, substituting for the three-judge District Court, a right of direct appeal to the Court of Appeals for the relevant jurisdiction. This statute is known as the Hobbs Act (28 U.S.C. 2321, 2342).
The ICC was abolished in 1995 and most of its remaining functions were transferred to the newly created Surface Transportation Board (STB) or to FMCSA. The corresponding revisions to the Hobbs Act, however, created uncertainty. The right of the Circuit Courts to review FMCSA actions based on the ICC's commercial motor carrier statutes was assured by inserting a reference to "part B or C of subtitle IV of title 49" in section 2342(3)(A). In addition, section 2342(5) was amended by replacing its reference to appeals of "all rules, regulations, or orders of the Interstate Commerce Commission made reviewable by section 2321 of this title and all final orders of such Commission made reviewable under section 11901(j)(2) of title 49, United States Code," with a reference to "all rules, regulations, or final orders of the Surface Transportation Board made reviewable by section 2321 of this title."
That raised the question whether an action by FMCSA pursuant to the safety authority transferred in 1966 could still be reviewed by the Courts of Appeal, since section 2342(3)(A) applied to the commercial statutes, while section 2342(5) applied to actions of the STB. The D.C. Circuit has concluded that, absent an indication that Congress intended a contrary result, the abolition of the ICC did not alter the manner of judicial review of FMCSA actions carrying out the powers or duties transferred from the ICC in 1966, and that agency actions are thus reviewable under section 2342(5) to the same extent and in the same manner as actions of the STB (See Aulenback v. Federal Highway Administration, 103 F.3d 156, 165 (D.C. Cir. 1997)).
A further question is whether FMCSA actions based upon safety statutes enacted after the 1966 transfer of ICC functions to the Department are also reviewable exclusively by the Courts of Appeals. The D.C. Circuit, in affirming such review, noted that "one could argue that the FHWA [now FMCSA] is performing a transferred 'function' whenever it regulates motor carrier safety, even if the only authority actually invoked derives from a post-transfer statute." International Brotherhood of Teamsters v. Pena, 17 F.3d 1478, 1482 n. 1 (D.C. Cir. 1994).
Because the private bar appears to be confused, both by the method of review and by the statutes subject to such review, subsection (a) would be amended to incorporate in 18 U.S.C. 2342(3)(A) the D.C. Circuit's conclusions in the Aulenback and Teamsters decisions. Both of these issues would be covered by inserting in section 2342(3)(A) a reference to "subchapter III of chapter 311, chapter 313, and chapter 315 of Part B of subtitle VI of title 49." FMCSA's safety statutes are codified there, including statutes enacted after 1966. All safety statutes would thus be subject to exclusive review by the Courts of Appeal.
Subsections (b) and (c) would simply replace the term "Federal Highway Administration" with "Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration" in 49 U.S.C. 351(a) and 352. The ICC's motor carrier safety functions were exercised by FHWA until the fall of 1999 and were statutorily entrusted to FMCSA when it was created on January 1, 2000. Because FHWA retains no duties or powers transferred from the ICC, sections 351(a) and 352 should refer to FMCSA.
SEC. 4004. PENALTY FOR DENIAL OF ACCESS TO RECORDS. [Legislation]
FMCSA investigators have broad authority to inspect and copy motor carrier and shipper records (see 49 U.S.C. 504(c), 31133(a)). The majority of carriers and shippers readily grant access to requested records. Some, however, deliberately impede the investigative process by refusing to set an audit date, or, after setting a date, by ordering investigators off the premises - occasionally with a show of force. Others take a more subtle approach, feigning illness or declaring an "emergency" during the audit; pleading inability to produce records because of the absence of key personnel; or delivering documents at a pace designed to prolong the audit beyond the time available to the investigator.
While investigators can issue an administrative subpoena for documents, refusal to comply requires the agency to file an action in Federal court to enforce the subpoena. This process, though effective, is relatively slow and labor-intensive, and the cost to a carrier or shipper who does not seriously contest the action is minimal.
New section 521(b)(2)(E) would create a financial penalty to dissuade many uncooperative carriers and shippers from denying or impeding FMCSA's legitimate access to records.
SEC. 4005. MEDICAL REVIEW BOARD AND MEDICAL EXAMINERS. [Legislation]
A new Medical Review Board, as authorized by subsection (a), is proposed by the Department to serve as a source of up-to-date medical advice for the FMCSA on matters related to driver qualification rules, guidelines for medical examiners, and standards for medical exemptions under 49 U.S.C. 31315(b).
Subsection (b) would authorize the Secretary, through notice and comment rulemaking, to create standards that medical examiners would have to meet in order to perform physical examinations of commercial motor vehicle operators that would be valid to demonstrate compliance with 49 CFR 391.41. The Secretary would also be authorized to create a list of medical examiners who have received qualification training to perform the examinations. After the adoption of the list, only medical examiners on the list could examine a commercial driver and issue the medical certificate required by 49 CFR 391.43(h). The intent of this provision is to ensure that medical professionals are knowledgeable of driver qualification standards and guidelines, understand the physical and mental demands involved in driving a commercial vehicle, and perform physical examinations with full awareness of the conditions in which the examinee will be working. A parallel mechanism is in place for the medical qualifications of airline and other pilots.
SEC. 4006. ENFORCEMENT OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS REGULATIONS. [Legislation]
Subsection (a) of this section would require household goods carriers to offer shippers arbitration on all matters, including price disputes. The current statute is limited to disputes concerning loss and damage claims. Experience has shown that disagreements on matters other than loss and damage claims are numerous. Since there is no good reason to exclude those issues from possible arbitration, this subsection would require household goods carriers to offer shippers arbitration on all disagreements.
Subsection (b) would authorize State Attorneys General (AG) to enforce the Federal household goods statutes and regulations. This provision is based on similar authority in section 4 of the Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud Abuse Prevention Act of 1994. A State AG would be required to provide prior written notice to the Secretary or Surface Transportation Board before filing a civil action to enforce the household goods standards; the Secretary or Board could intervene and participate in the action. The volume of complaints against household goods carriers has risen steadily. Although shippers are authorized to take legal action on their own behalf, that process is time-consuming and may cost more than the amount in dispute. This paragraph would enable State AGs to provide additional protection, by acting independently to enforce Federal standards for household goods carriers.
SEC. 4007. REGISTRATION OF COMMERCIAL MOTOR CARRIERS, FREIGHT FORWARDERS, AND BROKERS. [Legislation]
The statutes governing commercial motor carriers, brokers, and freight forwarders (49 U.S.C. subtitle IV, part B, chapters 131-149) sometimes apply to operators using vehicles too small to qualify as CMVs under 49 U.S.C. 31132(1), and thus they are not subject to the Federal safety statutes (49 U.S.C. chapter 311, subchapter III, chapter 313, and chapter 315). Because there is no discernible benefit to the public or the transportation community in registering motor carriers not covered by the safety requirements, subsection (a) of this section would limit the jurisdictional terms "foreign motor carrier," "foreign motor private carrier," "motor carrier," and "motor private carrier" in 49 U.S.C. 13102 to carriers that operate CMVs, as defined in section 31132(1). These terms are used throughout subtitle IV, part B; as amended, they would serve to harmonize the jurisdictional reach of the commercial and the safety statutes.
Subsection (b) amends 49 U.S.C. 13903 to require the registration of freight forwarders of household goods, while authorizing the Secretary to rescind the registration requirements for freight forwarders who handle other property. The need to protect shippers of household goods is clear, but commercial shippers and carriers may no longer derive a benefit from registration of other freight forwarders. This would be an issue for the Secretary to consider through notice and comment rulemaking.
Subsection (c) amends 49 U.S.C. 13904 in the same way, and for the same reason. Brokers of household goods must continue to be registered, but the Secretary would be authorized to eliminate registration of other types of brokers if that requirement is no longer needed to protect shippers.
SEC. 4008. FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR PRIVATE MOTOR CARRIERS. [Legislation]
Subsection (a) of this section would delete the phrase "for compensation" after "transportation of passengers" in section 31138(a), which would subject private carriers of passengers by motor vehicle to the financial responsibility requirements of section 31138. Similarly, subsection (a)(2) would authorize the Secretary to require private carriers of passengers to file the same evidence of financial responsibility that is required of for-hire passenger carriers under 49 U.S.C. 13906(a)(1).
Subsection (b)(1) would delete the phrase "for compensation" after "transportation of property" in section 31139(b)(1), thus subjecting private motor carriers of property to the financial responsibility requirement of section 31139. Subsection (b)(2) authorizes the Secretary to require private motor carriers to file the same evidence of financial responsibility that is required of for-hire motor carriers under 49 U.S.C. 13906(a)(1).
Current law exempts private motor carriers of property and private motor carriers of passengers from the requirement to have financial responsibility covering public liability, property damage, and environmental restoration resulting from crashes involving their vehicles. Although these carriers may be subject to State insurance requirements, it is important to establish uniform national requirements. This section therefore would require private passenger and property carriers to have financial responsibility in the same amounts as are currently required by sections 31138 and 31139. This section would also authorize the Secretary of Transportation to require private carriers to file evidence of financial responsibility with the Department, as for-hire carriers already do.
SEC. 4009. INCREASED PENALTIES FOR OUT-OF-SERVICE VIOLATIONS AND FALSE RECORDS. [Legislation]
The civil penalties for recordkeeping violations under 49 U.S.C. 521(b)(2)(B) are $500 for each day the offense continues, up to a maximum of $5,000, or $5,000 for each recordkeeping violation that can be shown to have misrepresented a fact constituting a non-recordkeeping violation. Subsection (a) would double these penalties to up to $1,000 for each day the offense continues, or up to $10,000 for an offense that misrepresents a non-recordkeeping violation. Recordkeeping violations frequently have no other purpose than to conceal a safety violation, and they often succeed. Higher penalties should reduce both the number of recordkeeping violations and, indirectly, the number of safety violations as well.
The current penalties under 49 U.S.C. 31310(i)(2) for a driver who violates an out-of-service (OOS) order are, for a first offense, a 90-day disqualification from operating a CMV and a civil penalty of at least $1,000 and for a second offense, disqualification for one to five years and a civil penalty of at least $1,000. An employer who knowingly allows or requires a driver to violate an OOS order is subject to a civil penalty of up to $10,000. OOS orders can be issued for a variety of reasons: for failure to pay civil penalties on schedule, for having an unsatisfactory safety rating, for violating the agency's hours-of-service or equipment regulations, or because the motor carrier constitutes an imminent hazard. Enforcement officers cannot afford to spend hours monitoring a single OOS vehicle, and tracking possible movements of an entire OOS fleet is even more difficult. As a result, many OOS orders are violated. One effective deterrent to violating an OOS order is to raise the cost to violators. Subsection (b) would increase to a maximum of $25,000 the civil penalty for a motor carrier that knowingly orders a driver to proceed despite an OOS order. An employer that knowingly and willfully ignores OOS orders is liable to imprisonment for up to a year or a fine of up to $100,000 if the violation did not result in death, or up to $250,000 if it did result in death, or both. But drivers sometimes decide on their own to ignore an OOS order. Subsection (b) would increase a driver's penalty for a first offense to a 180-day disqualification and a civil penalty of at least $2,500, and, for a second offense, to a two to five year disqualification and a civil penalty of up to $5,000. These measures should have a significant deterrent effect.
SEC. 4010. ELIMINATION OF COMMODITY AND SERVICE EXEMPTIONS. [Legislation]
Section 13506(a) of title 49, U.S.C., exempts certain operations or commodities from the jurisdiction of the Secretary or the Surface Transportation Board under 49 U.S.C. chapters 131-149. Many of these exemptions are obsolete and unjustified.
Subsection (a) would delete the exemption for taxicab service in a vehicle with a capacity of not more than six passengers (section 13506(a)(2)). Section 4007 of this bill would limit the Secretary's registration authority to persons operating "commercial motor vehicles," as defined in 49 U.S.C. 31132(1). That definition includes a broader taxicab exemption, because a CMV is, among other things, a vehicle "designed or used to transport more than 8 passengers (including the driver) for compensation." Section 13506(a)(2) is therefore unnecessary and would be removed.
Subsection (a) would also delete the exemptions for transportation by motor vehicle of ordinary livestock, agricultural or horticultural commodities, commodities on a 1958 listed published by the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC), fish and shellfish, livestock and poultry feed, and agricultural seeds and plants. The current exemptions are described in more detail in section 13506(a)(6). Most of these exemptions were enacted at a time when ICC economic regulations protected existing motor carriers that specialized in transporting certain commodities and made it difficult, expensive, and time-consuming for potential competitors to enter the industry. That regulatory system has largely disappeared. FMCSA, which administers most of the remaining commercial statutes, is principally a safety agency. The repeal of these provisions would require for-hire carriers of the commodities listed in section 13506(a)(6) to register with the FMCSA, and may require some of them to file tariffs with and comply with the regulations of the Surface Transportation Board. In general, however, the effect of the repeal would simply be to give FMCSA jurisdiction over motor carriers under the commercial statutes comparable to the jurisdiction it already has over these carriers through the safety statutes.
This subsection would also delete the exemptions for used pallets and used empty shipping containers (section 13506(a)(11); natural, crushed or vesicular rock to be used for decorative purposes (section 13506(a)(12)); wood chips (section 13506(a)(13)); and broken, crushed or powdered glass (section 13506(a)(15)). Like the provisions discussed above, these exemptions were primarily intended to give carriers of certain commodities relief from the barriers to entry erected by the ICC's once-comprehensive regulations. Since those barriers no longer exist, the justification for exempting the carriers from the FMCSA's registration requirements have largely disappeared.
Subsection (b) would make corresponding amendments to section 13507 by removing the references to sections 13506(a)(6), (11), (12), and (13).
SEC. 4011. INTRASTATE OPERATIONS OF INTERSTATE MOTOR CARRIERS. [Legislation]
As defined in 49 U.S.C. 31132(1), a vehicle is not a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) unless it operates in interstate commerce. One of the implications of the definition is that the Secretary's authority to determine the safety fitness of CMV owners and operators encompasses the accident and safety inspection record of such companies or individuals on interstate trips, but not on intrastate trips. Most interstate motor carriers also have substantial intrastate operations.
For purposes of safety, it is artificial and counterproductive to create two classes of accidents and safety inspection data - one subject to Federal jurisdiction, the other not - when both (typically) involve the same vehicles, drivers, dispatchers, mechanics, and safety management controls, and may cause the same kind of death, injury, or physical damage. In examining a motor carrier's accident and inspection data, it is often difficult, and sometimes impossible, to determine whether the vehicle involved was making an interstate or intrastate trip. This has produced significant variation and potential for inaccuracy in the accident rates and Motor Carrier Safety Status Measurement System (SAFESTAT) scores calculated for motor carriers, and thus in the Department's ability to hold all carriers to the same standard.
In order to simplify and rationalize the analysis of accident data and provide a more complete picture of the safety of motor carrier operations, subsection (a) would require the Secretary, in the course of determining the safety fitness of CMV (i.e., interstate) owners and operators, to consider the accident and inspection record of such owners and operators both on interstate and intrastate trips.
In addition, owners and operators of CMVs who are determined to be unfit and prohibited from operating in interstate commerce, would also prohibited by subsection (b) from operating CMVs in intrastate commerce until they are able to demonstrate their fitness. There is no good reason to allow an unfit interstate carrier to narrow its operations to a single State, and thus visit its safety deficiencies upon the residents of that State alone.
Finally, subsection (c) would direct the Secretary to place all interstate operations of a motor carrier out of service if a State, using the Federal safety fitness standards prescribed under 49 U.S.C. 31144(b), has placed out of service the intrastate operations of a carrier that has its principal place of business in that State.
A Federal safety determination that an interstate motor carrier is unfit would thus halt both its interstate and intrastate operations, while a State safety determination that an intrastate carrier is unfit will halt both its intrastate and any interstate operations. An unfit carrier should not be allowed to operate anywhere.
SEC. 4012. AUTHORITY TO STOP COMMERCIAL MOTOR VEHICLES. [Legislation]
Under current law, FMCSA officials may inspect trucks, and driver and motor carrier records, but they have no authority to order trucks on the road to stop for inspection. MCSAP has shifted the primary burden for roadside enforcement to State agencies, whose officers do have the authority to stop vehicles. With the opening of the Mexican border, however, Federal inspectors will play an expanded role in roadside enforcement. In addition, there is no guarantee that State or local police officers will always be available at border facilities or at other vehicle inspection facilities throughout the Nation to order trucks to stop for an FMCSA inspection. FMCSA officials need independent authority to order trucks to stop for inspection in all U.S. jurisdictions.
Section 4012 would provide that authority. Subsection (a) would make it a misdemeanor for the driver of a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) to refuse to stop for an inspection when directed to do so by a uniformed special agent of the FMCSA. The penalty for violating proposed new section 38 of title 18, U.S.C., would imprisonment for not more than one year (a Class A misdemeanor) (cf. 18 U.S.C. 3581(b)(6)), a fine of not more than $100,000 (cf. 18 U.S.C. 3571(b)(5)), or both. Subsection (b) would authorize FMCSA's uniformed special agents to order CMV drivers to stop for inspections. This authority would extend to all FMCSA safety investigators.
SEC. 4013. PATTERN OF SAFETY VIOLATIONS BY MOTOR CARRIER MANAGEMENT. [Legislation]
Some motor carrier managers order, encourage, or tolerate widespread regulatory violations and, when caught, declare bankruptcy, rename the motor carrier and reshuffle the managers' titles, sell its assets to a pre-existing shell corporation owned and managed by the same people, or otherwise attempt to evade the payment of civil penalties, obscure the identity of the motor carrier and thus its safety record, and perpetuate a casual indifference to public safety. Although the total number of such managers is small, their actions create a risk disproportionate to their numbers.
Section 4013 would address these problems. It would amend 49 U.S.C. 31135 to authorize the Secretary to suspend, amend, or revoke the registration of a for-hire motor carrier if any of its officers has engaged in a pattern or practice of avoiding compliance, or concealing non-compliance, with Federal motor carrier safety standards. The Secretary could also deny an application to register as a for-hire motor carrier if any of the proposed officers of the carrier has engaged in a pattern of non-compliance. In this context, "officer" means owner, chief executive officer, chief operating officer, chief financial officer, safety director, vehicle maintenance supervisor, and driver supervisor.
This provision would not apply to all motor carrier officers whose companies are found to be in violation of the Federal safety rules. Rather, it is intended to authorize the Secretary to force out of the industry those few motor carrier officers who have shown unusual and repeated disregard for safety compliance. It is expected that the Secretary would use this authority only in the most serious cases.
SEC. 4014. MOTOR CARRIER RESEARCH AND TECHNOLOGY PROGRAM. [Legislation]
This section would authorize a comprehensive FMCSA research and technology program. The goal is to support - through contracts, cooperative agreements, and grants - research designed to produce innovative advances in motor carrier, driver, and passenger safety. Equally critical, however, would be the transfer of promising results - whether technical or operational - to potential users and rapid deployment of the fruits of research and development. Improvements in safety require more than good will and good intentions. This section would invest in the intellectual resources that can find solutions to perennial problems and new challenges.
SEC. 4015. INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION. [Legislation]
This section would authorize the Secretary, and thus the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), to engage in international activities. The FMCSA needs this kind of authority to aid in implementing the North American Free Trade Agreement and to carry on discussions with U.S. trading partners concerning a variety of safety issues.
SEC. 4016. PERFORMANCE AND REGISTRATION INFORMATION SYSTEM MANAGEMENT (PRISM). [Legislation]
PRISM is an effective enforcement tool that enables the States to deny, suspend, or revoke a motor carrier's commercial motor vehicle registrations when FMCSA determines that the carrier has become unfit to operate CMVs safely. By itself, an out-of-service (OOS) order from FMCSA sometimes has little effect. However, when the State simultaneously confiscates the motor carrier's CMV license plates, the carrier's ability to continue operating without detection is greatly reduced. In order to participate in the program, States are required to comply with uniform standards set by the Secretary and to have or seek the legal authority to deny, suspend, or revoke CMV registrations when the Secretary issues an operations OOS order. The Secretary would be authorized to make grants available to States to help them implement the PRISM program.
SEC. 4017. INFORMATION SYSTEMS AND DATA ANALYSIS. [Legislation]
This section would require the Secretary to carry out a program to improve the collection and analysis of data on the causes of crashes involving CMVs. The absence of crash data detailed enough to allow statistical analysis that could lead to breakthrough insights has long been a problem. This program would address that deficiency.
SEC. 4018. OUTREACH AND EDUCATION. [Legislation]
Driver error is responsible for the majority of accidents involving CMVs and private automobiles or light trucks - but most of the mistakes are made by the drivers of those smaller vehicles, not by CMV drivers. Subsection (a) would authorize expanded funding for the "Share the Road Safely" program, which addresses this serious, though not widely recognized, problem. One of its goals is to make non-professional drivers aware of the design and handling limits of CMVs, and to publicize a range of simple but effective steps they can take to avoid collisions with big trucks. Subsection (a) would also authorize expansion of the "Safety is Good Business" program, which identifies best safety and business practices and shows how they contribute to motor carriers' financial health.
Subsection (b) would authorize a similar program directed toward improving the situational awareness and defensive driving behaviors of CMV drivers.