Truck safety reform legislation that would create a National Motor Carrier Administration is headed for a House vote later this month.
On the Senate side, hearings by the Commerce and Transportation Committee are expected late in September.
A key question still to be answered: Where will Rep. Frank Wolf, R-VA, come down? Wolf is the one who put the legislative process in gear with his insistence on moving truck safety out of the Federal Highway Administration and into the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Wolf controls the money spigot for FHWA, and has said he will not fund truck safety unless there are dramatic changes in the program.
He has yet to say how he feels about the proposals in the House and Senate, although he has indicated he is not necessarily opposed to moving truck safety into a new motor carrier administration.
In addition to creating the new modal administration, the bills would make it harder to get and keep a Commercial Drivers License and require new truckers to prove they know the safety rules. Other possible provisions: a rule mandating onboard recorders or other technology to monitor driver hours for some kinds of trucking operations, and penalties for shippers who knowingly push truckers to break the safety rules.
The National Private Truck Council is urging Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, to make CDL restrictions even tougher. The private carriers want CDL drivers who have been convicted of a serious traffic violation outside of work to lose their licenses.
Also, NPTC said, the bill should require all truck lines to periodically update the information on file with the Department of Transportation. The Form MCS-150 contains census and demographic information that can help DOT target unsafe carriers, said NPTC president John McQuaid in a letter to McCain.