My friends at the Truck Safety Coalition are reporting a victory for truck safety advocates in yesterday's deal between the House and Senate for transportation reauthorization. The Senate bill, called MAP-21, included a number of truck safety initiatives, and those have survived in the final deal. A number of the new provisions will have implications for truck driver whistleblowers. Most famously, the bill requires that commercial trucks start carrying Electronic On-board Recorders (EOBRs). Employer and other economic pressures to cheat on the log books should become a thing of the past as each trucker's actual hours of driving will be recorded automatically with GPS devices. One can imagine ways in which cheating might still occur, but with the higher standards, safety whistleblowers should have more evidence on their side. Disputes over hours of operation have been a bane for truck drivers for too long. Tired drivers have killed too many. Thankfully, today is a day on which safety has prevailed.
The bill also increases the standards for truck driver medical qualifications, training and drug and alcohol testing. I am pleased with the heightened standards for broker financial responsibility and insurance. Hopefully, we will not see so many shady operators who fold up shop at any sign of trouble and then reopen under a new name. This should make it easier for whistleblowers to collect when they win their cases. Trucker drivers should know that the time limit to file a whistleblower retaliation complaint under the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA) is 180 days from the date of each adverse action. The Truck Safety Coalition's announcement is in the continuation of this blog post.
Great Safety News!
Yesterday, the House and Senate struck a deal and finalized language on the surface transportation bill and today, both houses passed it. The transportation bill will run through September 2014 and contains numerous truck safety provisions that were originally included in the Senate's transportation reauthorization bill, MAP-21.
The transportation bill is a major victory for truck safety!
These provisions will advance safety for all who drive on America's roadways and include:
- A mandate for a requirement of Electronic On-board Recorders (EOBRs) in all commercial vehicles;
- A 2 year study on the safety and infrastructure effects of truck size and weight in place of increases to truck weight and size limits;
- Provisions to address commercial driver safety: including driver medical qualifications, operator training, a driver's license program, driver's requirements and driver information systems;
- Provisions to establish a drug and alcohol clearinghouse for commercial motor vehicle drivers;
- Provisions to strengthen motor carrier oversight and enforcement, particularly to prevent reincarnated carriers;
- A provision to review and report on the appropriateness of minimum financial responsibility requirements (insurance);
- Provisions addressing the financial responsibility of freight-forwarders and brokers by directing rulemakings to establish minimum financial solvency and bonding requirements for these entities, and;
- Provisions to increase penalties for hazmat transportation violations, to strengthen enforcement of hazmat transportation and to develop criteria for oversight of hazmat transportation.
There are numerous truck safety champions who made these life-saving truck safety provisions possible. The TSC commends:
- Senators Lautenberg, Rockefeller and Pryor for their leadership and commitment to truck safety by authoring and shepherding the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Enhancement Act first, into the Senate's bipartisan passed transportation bill, MAP-21 and then into the final transportation bill.
- Congressmen Barletta and Costello for their leadership in introducing and championing an amendment that removed truck size and weight increases in the House transportation bill and replaced them with a responsible study on the impacts of truck size and weight.
- Transportation Conference Chair Senator Barbara Boxer and Senator James Inhofe for their leadership in building bipartisan support of the truck safety provisions in the Senate transportation bill, MAP-21.
If you would like to thank the above Senators and Representatives for their hard work and commitment to truck safety, you can get their numbers at:
www.senate.gov and www.house.gov.
THANK YOU for all of your calls and emails to express the voice of safety. They made a tremendous difference and as a result, the final transportation bill advances truck safety.
Please continue to visit our website at www.trucksafety.com for updates on pending legislation and information on opportunities for actions.
Together, we are making a difference!
Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.