ATA Hails Transportation Bill as Step Forward for Safety, Efficiency
American Trucking Associations saluted members of the House and Senate conference committee for their work in passing a safety-conscious highway bill that lays a solid foundation for addressing America’s need for an efficient goods movement network.
“This legislation, while not all we could have hoped for as an industry and as users of the highway system, makes tremendous strides in the safety arena and puts down a marker for future improvements to our nation’s freight infrastructure,” ATA President and CEO Bill Graves said.
Graves said of particular importance was the committee’s inclusion of several initiatives advocated by ATA, including a requirement that commercial trucks use electronic logging devices to record drivers’ compliance with hours of service limits, the creation of a clearinghouse to track drug and alcohol test results, a study of crashworthiness standards for large trucks, the establishment of standards for systems to provide employers with timely notifications of drivers’ moving violations, and mandatory testing of new carriers entering the industry to verify their knowledge of safety requirements.
“Despite misinformation from a vocal minority, the conferees have set our industry on the path to even greater improvements in safety by requiring the Department of Transportation to mandate that truck drivers use electronic devices to record their compliance with the hours of service requirements,” Graves said. “This is a tremendous leap forward for trucking, which will bring our compliance systems into the 21st Century, leveling the playing field for our industry and lead to even fewer crashes on our nation’s highways.
The bill also lays a foundation for much needed improvements in freight transportation, albeit without the increases in funding necessary to address our growing needs.
“ATA has long supported increasing user fees, specifically the diesel tax, to fund overdue repair and expansion of our highway system,” said ATA Chairman Dan England, chairman of C.R. England Inc., Salt Lake City. “While this bill does not do that, it does make impressive reforms to the planning process which will reduce costs and speed construction projects, including making freight transportation a greater priority, along with providing certain enticements for states to fund freight projects. It is our sincere hope that as these reforms take effect, Congress quickly gets back to drafting legislation that provides the adequate funding we need to maintain and grow our infrastructure network and dedicates funds to the movement of freight.”