The Federal Highway Administration, under orders from Congress, has proposed changes to the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance program that will shift emphasis from activities to results.
MCSAP, first authorized in 1982, originally provided funds to the states for vehicle inspections. The program has since expanded to include other safety activities such as hazardous materials training, commercial driver license enforcement, traffic enforcement activities and the reporting of truck and bus crash data.
With last year’s Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century, Congress again expanded the scope of MCSAP by giving the states more responsibility for improved motor carrier safety. One key change is that states must adopt performance-based programs starting with fiscal year 2000.
According to FHWA, this is already being done, since annual funding requests must include safety plans and program evaluations. However, the agency did admit that success has been measured by the number of activities conducted (inspections performed, for instance) rather than the outcomes achieved (fewer truck accidents, fewer fatalities, etc.)
Performance-based planning gives the states more flexibility to design programs that address their own safety problems along with national objectives. To provide further incentive, a new funding distribution formula would favor states that demonstrate safety improvement.
The notice appeared in the March 9 Federal Register, pages 11,414-11,431. It can be accessed at http://www.access.gpo.gov.