Julie Cirillo, program manager of the Office of Motor Carrier and Highway Safety, said the agency will continue to encourage truckers to voluntarily obey the rules, and will promote safety technology, but its main emphasis will be on enforcement — which means more visits to fleets by federal investigators.
Cirillo, who was appointed to the helm at OMCHS late last year to help stem concerns about the agency's performance, said she aims to turn perceptions around "by producing results."
Results apparently also include movement on hours-of-service rules: Cirillo said that within two weeks the agency will decide whether or not to proceed with a negotiated rulemaking on hours of service reform. If the negotiated approach will not work, OMCHS will soon post a notice of proposed rulemaking, she said.
Cirillo offered this glimpse of her strategic plan for OMCHS at a National Transportation Safety Board hearing yesterday at Georgetown University in Washington, DC.
The hearing is bringing together many of the same voices heard this winter and spring on Capitol Hill as Congress aired its concerns about truck safety regulation. Yesterday, however, offered a new wrinkle: real-life truck drivers, and a trucking company executive.
Marilyn Cochrane, a driver for U.S. Xpress, and Woody Chambers, an owner-operator, told the story they see from behind the wheel. Both want more highway rest areas for trucks, better education for car drivers on sharing the road with trucks, a 24-hour restart on hours of service, uniform inspections standards from state to state and a tougher road test for CDL applicants.
Max Fuller, co-chairman of U.S. Xpress, said he believes federal oversight of truck safety is better today than it has ever been in the past. His comment straightened DOT representatives in their chairs — encouraging comments have been few and far between since the OMCHS reform process began late last year.
The NTSB hearings continue today and tomorrow. Meanwhile, Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, has scheduled an April 27 hearing on OMCHS before the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.