Drivers

Safety, Reauthorization Funding Top Priorities For DOT in '10

November 23, 2009

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Cracking down on motor carrier and commercial driver safety and securing a funding framework for surface transportation reauthorization are top concerns for the Department of Transportation for 2010
As part of its plan for 2010, the DOT will assess the annual federal funding needed to keep up transportation infrastructure.
As part of its plan for 2010, the DOT will assess the annual federal funding needed to keep up transportation infrastructure.
, according to the department's report on Top Management Challenges.

"In fiscal year 2009, the federal government spent over $38 billion to help states preserve and enhance America's roadways," the report said. "Despite this spending, over one-half of the nation's roads are in less than good condition and more than one-quarter of the nation's bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Further, this spending is mostly directed at existing infrastructure not on new capacity."

The agency will make funding a priority for the next surface transportation reauthorization, including focusing on the short-term solvency of the Highway Trust Fund, which went through a severe decline.

The DOT will also assess the annual federal funding needed to keep up the transportation infrastructure. According to the report, the department believes an increase is needed, but no amount has been fixed yet. The department says it's committed to working with Congress and stakeholders to come to an appropriate amount for funding.

Another focus will be on developing a comprehensive funding framework for the future, especially with the steady decline of the Highway Trust Fund.

"Essentially, in response to unprecedented increases in fuel prices during fiscal year 2008, followed by the ongoing economic recession, motorists began cutting back on their driving and fuel purchases and purchases of new heavy trucks dropped dramatically, thereby generating fewer tax receipts for HTF," the DOT said.

Looking towards 2010, the agency also faces the challenge of reducing injuries and fatalities on the road, and this includes cracking down on motor carriers and commercial drivers, while enhancing the CDL program. "Approximately 4,500, or 1 in 8 overall fatalities in 2008 were related to crashes involving large trucks or buses," the report claimed.

The department plans to be stricter in its enforcement against carriers with repeat safety offenses, making sure to keep unsafe carriers out of service. This also involves stronger CDL standards and a more stringent motor carrier application vetting process.

Other DOT priorities for next year include helping states to improve resource and funding allocation and successfully implementing the new multi-billion dollar high-speed intercity passenger rail program.

To view the entire report, click here.


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