Mineta, the influential former chairman of the House Committee on Public Works and Transportation, has been tapped by Secretary of Transportation Rodney Slater and Federal Highway Administrator Kenneth Wykle to provide an independent analysis of the current state of truck and bus safety regulation.
Mineta is attempting to find consensus among numerous conflicting views on safety regulation. The conflict arises from deep concern on Capitol Hill about the efficiency of the main truck safety agency, the Office of Motor Carrier and Highway Safety. That concern has surfaced in a proposal by Rep. Frank Wolf, R-VA, to move OMCHS out of the Federal Highway Administration and into the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Slater and Wykle want Mineta's view on which aspects of the federal safety program are working, which are not and what needs to be done to reduce the number of crashes, fatalities and injuries.
Edick explained that the location of OMCHS in the DOT organization chart is not a primary concern for Mineta. If he finds that location is an issue, Mineta will make a recommendation, Edick said.
Also, Mineta is focusing on reducing the absolute number of fatal crashes, rather than the rate of fatal crashes per million vehicle miles — a number that has remained generally flat even as actual fatalities have risen in recent years.
The group of 13 advisers met for the first time April 9. It will have one additional general meeting, and Mineta plans to meet with each individually. He also is conferring with the General Accounting Office and the Transportation Department's Office of Inspector General, both of which have issued reports highly critical of OMCHS, and with the National Transportation Safety Board. And he has invited transportation panels on the Hill to participate, Edick said.
The Mineta advisers are:
· Jacqueline S. Gillan, vice president, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.
· Edward Wytkind, AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department.
· Dave Willis, president and CEO, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
· William Leasure, executive director, Truck Manufacturers Assn.
· Harry Eubanks, president, Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance.
· LaMont Byrd, director, Safety and Health Department, Teamsters union.
· Susan Coughlin, director and COO, ATA Foundation.
· Jack Burkert, senior vice president, Lance Insurance.
· Carman Daecher, representing bus interests.
· Jim Johnston, president, Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Assn.
· Russ Swift, co-chairperson, Parents Against Tired Truckers.
· John McQuaid, president and CEO, National Private Truck Council.
· Maury Hannigan, former commissioner, California Highway Patrol.
Mineta is vice president of Special Business Initiatives at Lockheed Martin Corp. Edick is retired from FHWA, where he served as director of the Federal Lands Highway Program.