Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, will hold his promised hearing on truck safety tomorrow, April 27. Unless unscheduled panels follow, it will be the last of five congressional hearings on the effectiveness of the federal truck safety program run by the Office of Motor Carrier and Highway Safety.
Meanwhile, the House Ground Transportation Subcommittee, which has held three hearings in recent months, is considering plans to offer legislation by early July, according to a spokesman. He would not reveal details, other than to say the panel is weighing a variety of options, including a proposal to establish a separate Transportation Department administration for trucking.
Witnesses at McCain's Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing will include Kenneth Mead, the DOT inspector general who has been highly critical of the safety agency's performance. The agency has not been a strong enforcer of the rules, Mead told Congress in earlier hearings.
The agency has acknowledged those criticisms and is moving to get tough on enforcement by increasing the number of compliance reviews and raising the level of fines. (See "Cirillo to Truckers: Be Safe — Or Else," http://www.heavytruck.com/cgibin/rsnewsframe?990423.47.)
Also testifying before McCain will be Jim Hall, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, which held three days of hearings on truck safety earlier this month. Hall is likely to press for better data collection, reforms of the commercial driver license system and mandatory use of onboard recorders for accident investigations.
A third government witness will be Eugene Conti, assistant DOT secretary for transportation policy.
The other witnesses are: Walter McCormick, president of the American Trucking Assns.; Lamont Buird, director of safety and health for the Teamsters union; Steve Campbell, executive director of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance; Peter Worthington, safety committee chairman for the American Bus Assn.; and Joan Claybrook, president of Public Citizen.
Related web sites: http://www.senate.gov/~mccain/index.htm, http://commerce.senate.gov.