The people who do the hands-on work of truck safety enforcement intend to assert themselves more in the national dialogue on highway safety.
The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, whose members represent federal, state and provincial safety agencies from the U.S., Canada and Mexico, as well as private industry, sees itself belonging at center stage as the debate about truck safety unfolds.
"We need to be seen as more visible participants and more visible leaders in the whole issue of commercial vehicle enforcement," said Steve Campbell, the new executive director of the organization.
Campbell, who took over the CVSA leadership post late last month, said in an interview that he intends to "kick it up about three notches."
"Our people are the best at what's being done in commercial vehicle enforcement throughout this country. We will be at the front of everything that's done impacting commercial vehicle safety in this country."
Campbell said CVSA's mission is to reduce fatalities and injuries. "The commercial airline industry is very proud of the fact that last year not a single person was killed in an airline accident. Is that ever going to be possible in the commercial vehicle world? Probably not, but we're going to try to make that happen with our partners in industry and the federal government."
The alliance, whose members conducted two million roadside truck inspections last year, issues inspection stickers, establishes out-of-service criteria, trains inspectors and sets uniform inspection procedures.
Campbell, a former Louisiana State Trooper who has served with the American Trucking Assns. and the Motor Freight Carriers Assn., believes the key to improving safety is to maintain and even increase the roadside inspection effort.
He takes issue with the contention that more compliance reviews will turn the truck safety situation around. "(Compliance reviews are) part of the program, but roadside enforcement is the heart and soul of that compliance review process."
Campbell gives high marks to Julie Cirillo, the new chief of the Office of Motor Carrier and Highway Safety. "Her management style, her abilities to get people gathered up and doing the right thing, and a take-charge attitude -- she has all that, and we have been very much impressed.
"It's good to have her no-nonsense direction again pushing the program in a direction which hopefully will make some difference in the numbers."