Bill Offering Safety Tax Credit Praised

Trucking Industry Is Skeptical About Passage

By Sean McNally, Senior Reporter

This story appears in the Oct. 22 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

A bill introduced in the House of Representatives that would give trucking fleets a 50% tax credit for investing in safety technologies has won praise from transportation and safety officials, but they acknowledged the legislation likely faces an uphill battle.

Championed by Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) and seven other representatives, the bill would offer the credit to firms that install brake stroke monitoring systems, lane departure warning systems, collision warning systems or vehicle stability systems (10-15, p. 2). It would cap the credit at $1,500 a system, $3,500 per truck and $350,000 per fleet annually.

“This legislation is a step in the right direction toward making our highways in Kentucky and across the nation safer,” said Rep. Ron Lewis (R-Ky.), one of the bill’s co-sponsors.

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance and the Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association are two of the bill’s supporters.

“We support the bill wholeheartedly,” Dick Henderson, CVSA’s director of government affairs, told Transport Topics. “We worked very hard with other groups to draft the bill and get it introduced.”

“We believe that tax credits will accelerate the availability of important safety-enhancing technologies to heavy-vehicle operators and fleets,” Ann Wilson, MEMA’s vice president of government affairs, said in a statement.

Bill Graves, president of American Trucking Associations, said the industry welcomed the bill but was doubtful the bill could get enough support to become law.

“We would be very pleased if Congress was supportive of incentives for adoption of safety technology,” he said in an Oct. 12 speech to transportation journalists and officials, “[but] Congress seems to be a bit short on funding, and it will be a tremendous challenge to look at those issues favorably.”

Henderson said Graves was “probably correct” in his assessment, but he was a bit more optimistic. “A tax incentive is not an easy one, but the fact is, over the years, there is precedent for this.”

Henderson cited incentives for fuel-efficient and hybrid cars, an example also used by National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Mark Rosenker in April when he touted the benefits of an incentive program during a Senate hearing earlier this year (4-30, p. 17).

John Hill, head of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, also has said he supports tax incentives for safety technology.