One element of Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater's program for truck safety is a "stretch" goal for DOT staff: Reduce truck-related accident fatalities by 50% in the next 10 years.
It is a challenging target, particularly considering that DOT directly regulates only interstate carriers. Intrastate trucks, which account for almost half of the accidents, are mainly regulated by the states, with the assistance of the federal government through the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program.
What will it take for the Office of Motor Carrier and Highway Safety to meet Slater's goal? In an interview, OMCHS program manager Julie Cirillo spelled out a stringent enforcement regime.
She said drivers who have moving violations or citations for recklessness in their personal vehicles as well as in their trucks will have to be sidelined, as will drivers with a recent history of alcohol or drug abuse outside of the workplace. New drivers will have to be apprenticed to experienced, proven veterans.
Startup companies will have to prove they understand and are sensitive to their safety responsibilities. They will have to show they know how to hire and train drivers, and keep them up to speed on the rules.
Plus, the industry as a whole has to move quicker to embrace safety technology, Cirillo said. She wants to see collision avoidance systems and onboard recorders for logkeeping. She also is interested in using data transmission devices to communicate fleet safety information to roadside inspectors. And fatigue management will play an important role in achieving the goal, she said (see related story, "Hours-Of-Service Update," June 10).
There has been talk that Cirillo does not intend to stay in her job for very long. She acknowledges that she had been planning to retire before Federal Highway Administrator Kenneth Wykle offered her the post. But now her retirement plans are suspended. "For the people who say that [I'll be leaving soon], I'll be around longer than they will be around, probably."