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March 2, 2020 5:15 PM, EST

FMCSA Announces Plans for March 19 Safety Summit

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is planning a Safety Summit on March 19 for motor carriers, drivers, safety technology developers and users, federal and state partners, and safety advocate groups to share ideas on improving truck safety.

The goal of the summit, to convene from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the U.S. Department of Transportation in Washington, is to produce a “productive dialogue between FMCSA, industry, law enforcement, and safety advocates to help improve our shared goal of road safety for all Americans.”

UPDATE, MARCH 13: Summit postponed

“Data and analysis released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that over the last several years, there has been an increase in fatalities as a result of crashes involving large trucks,” the Feb. 28 FMCSA announcement said. “To respond to this trend, FMCSA continues to work with state entities, industry and other to identify new approaches to safety.”

FMCSA logo

The approaches can involve technology, company management practices, enforcement, outreach and education, and other techniques encompassing a “holistic approach” to truck safety, the agency said.

The event will be broken up into five sessions intentionally structured to facilitate an exchange between invited experienced players in the trucking space, people who might not otherwise meet face-to-face to collaborate, FMCSA said. The sessions will be facilitated by FMCSA personnel, who will select and pose questions to promote a productive discussion, the announcement said.

The summit will begin with a 45-minute presentation on the agency’s perspective. The five sessions will include what’s working, state partners, technology, and “a Florida safety story.” An open forum for the public will convene from 4 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., limiting individual commenters.

The summit will be streamed on the internet. Those who wish to speak during the public comment period must register in advance by emailing FMCSA-PIO@dot.gov. Proposed questions to panelists can also be sent.

Participation in the public event is free, but advance registration is required and due by March 10. Because of seating limitations, the agency said it will cap registration at 200 people. Only those who plan to attend in person need to register for the event.

HOS Regulations

Mullen

The summit comes after a Transportation Research Board annual meeting in January, when acting FMCSA Administrator Jim Mullen said he has tasked his entire agency with finding ways in 2020 to turn around an increase in large-truck fatalities over the past four years.

“When I assumed this role as acting administrator three months ago, the members of this panel asked me what are my top priorities,” Mullen said. “That to me was a no-brainer. The top priority for me at this agency is to reverse that four-year trend increasing fatalities involved with large trucks and buses.”

Jack Van Steenburg, FMCSA’s chief safety officer

Van Steenburg

In a briefing about the commercial motor vehicle safety landscape during TRB, Jack Van Steenburg, FMCSA’s chief safety officer, underscored Mullen’s concerns over the recent national trend of large-truck-involved fatalities.

From 2017 to 2018, the number of large trucks in a fatal crash with a weight rating between 10,001 and 14,000 pounds increased 4.6%, while the number of trucks over 26,000 pounds involved in fatal crashes increased 1.6% over the same period, Van Steenburg said.

Likewise, he said the number of large-truck occupant fatalities increased to 885 in 2018 from 815 in 2016. In addition, more than 40% of large-truck drivers who were ejected in fatal crashes had failed to wear their seat belts.

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