Fuel Smarts

Feds Give States More Slack on Safety Programs

March 21, 2000

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Acting on orders from Congress, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has finalized new rules governing the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program that give the states greater flexibility to design truck and bus safety programs that address both state and federal goals.

MCSAP is a federal grant-in-aid program first authorized in 1982 which makes money available to the states for programs to promote commercial vehicle safety. In the past, the funding mechanism was set up mainly to encourage uniformity. The emphasis was on measuring activity, such as the number of vehicles inspected. In the 1998 Transpotration Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) Congress authorized $580 million in MCSAP funding through 2003. TEA-21 also directed the Department of Transportation to revamp the way funds are administered, giving the states more flexibilty to address their own safety issues as well as federal concerns and shifting the emphasis from measurement to outcome (accident reduction, for instance).
The new procedures for obtaining basic funding require states to submit plans identifying their safety or performance programs with proposed outcome and possible outcome. They also need to address some federal truck safety issues such as enforcement of controlled substance and alcohol regulations, safety inspections, and compliance reviews, and controlled substance. Additional money is available to states that reduce accidents involving commercial motor vehicles and other activities such as programs to improve border safety and compliance.
Final rules appeared in the March 21, 2000, Federal Register, which can be accessed at www.nara.gov/fedreg.

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