A diverse mix of transportation interests met for two days last week at the federal Department of Transportation to begin hammering out DOT's strategic plan for improving truck and bus safety.
In this, the first of two such sessions, DOT was attempting to enlist the support of the trucking industry and others for achieving its goal of reducing fatalities from truck and bus accidents by 50% over the next decade.
Among the 70 invited attendees were truckers, trucking association executives and truck manufacturers, as well as stakeholders from labor, public interest groups and the safety enforcement community.
Under the guidance of professional facilitators, the group worked on forecasting the major economic and technological trends that will shape the future of the truck and bus industries. At the next session, scheduled for Aug. 3-4, the group is supposed to come up with the strategies that will lead to the 50% fatality reduction.
Early reaction to the process was mixed. Attendees contacted after the event generally were pleased that DOT is reaching out to the transportation community as part of its strategic planning process. Some were concerned, however, about the exclusive focus on commercial vehicles. They said that while trucks and buses can get safer, it will not be possible to achieve the 50% improvement in truck-related fatalities without changing the way automobile drivers behave.