Opinions Mixed On DOT Workshop
August 8, 1999
The second of the Department of Transportation truck safety workshops wrapped up last week, and participants offer mixed reports.
Some participants were upset that a DOT-sponsored truck safety bill was introduced Monday, the day before the second workshop. According to published reports, representatives from the National Industrial Transportation League, the National Private Truck Council and Parents Against Tired Truckers were among the participants who felt it was a waste of time. The proposed legislation is aimed at cutting truck-related highway deaths by 50% over the next 10 years — the same goal the workshop has.
Rita Bontz, president of the Independent Truckers and Drivers Assn., disagreed: "We went beyond what the DOT offered in its bill. The bill does say that it addresses the strategy for reducing crashes, but there's a lot more that can be done. The bill is just a beginning."
Todd Spencer, vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Assn., was also a participant. He had some misgivings about the effectiveness of the workshops, but not for the same reason as others. "While I think it's admirable that the secretary would propose a 50% reduction in truck-related fatalities, it's a laudable goal, but it ain't gonna happen by only focusing on trucks and truck drivers. The goal of the workshop was to exclusively focus on trucking."
Nevertheless, some of the recommendations made at the workshop did address passenger car vehicles, such as requiring passenger vehicle drivers to know about sharing the road with large trucks before getting a driver's license. Other suggestions included uniform national safety regulations, stronger enforcement action against unsafe carriers, truck driver training standards, better use of technology and tax incentives for safety equipment, among others.
Bontz says the main benefit of the workshops was allowing many nontrucking people, such as shippers, railroad representatives and safety advocates, to get a better perspective on trucking.