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February 8, 2021 11:30 AM, EST

Transportation Secretary Buttigieg Shares Views on Federal Trucking Policy

Pete ButtigiegTransportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg meets with Amtrak workers at Union Station in Washington. (Eugene Mulero/Transport Topics)

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During his debut as the country’s top transportation officer on Feb. 5 at Washington’s Union Station, Secretary Pete Buttigieg insisted that massive investments are needed to repair infrastructure projects. Buttigieg, and President Joe Biden, say they intend to build highways, bridges, tunnels, ports and railways in a better way. And by that, they mostly mean for freight and commuter corridors to be able to withstand the impact of severe-weather events.

The secretary met with Amtrak employees at Union Station. As expected, he did not address trucking policy. But, in written responses to questions from senators on the Commerce Committee, Buttigieg offered viewpoints on several trucking issues.

Speed limiters: “I commit to advancing the integration of technology that improves the safety of all road users, potentially including technologies such as speed limiters for commercial motor vehicles. Under my direction, [National Highway Traffic Safety Administration] and [Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration] would work closely with safety advocates and industry stakeholders to achieve the critical safety goal of reducing fatalities due to speeding.”

Eugene Mulero

Mulero

Side underride: “I will work with all safety components of the [U.S. Department of Transportation] to prioritize our safety rulemakings, including truck rear underride. In 2017, there were 450,000 police-reported crashes involving 18-wheelers, of which 4,237 were fatal. Any technology that can be implemented to improve safety around truck trailers should be carefully considered, and I look forward to working with you on this issue.”

Electronic logging devices: “I commit to taking a hard look at the hours-of-service regulations and how such regulations intersect with the varied complexities of truckers’ daily work, including those who transport time-sensitive cargo such as livestock and agricultural commodities.”

Truckers between the ages of 18-21: “Providing career pathways for our younger Americans is essential to building a stronger economy and stronger communities. ... I look forward to working with you and FMCSA on ways to increase opportunities within the trucking industry without compromising our safety standards.”

Questions for the Record by Transport Topics on Scribd

12% federal excise tax on heavy-duty trucks: “I will be further examining the impacts of this tax and … will work with Congress to ensure that we are making our transportation funding sources predictable, reliable and equitable.”

Driver shortage: “The goal of regulation is to set standards to keep the public and workers safe and able to earn a fair wage. We should always work to ensure that such regulations are delivering on their purpose in a way that it is balanced with other considerations.”

Pandemic: “We need to ensure that truck drivers operate under conditions that guarantee their safety and the safety of everyone on our roadways. I am eager to engage truckers and better understand their concerns.”

The Week Ahead (All times Eastern)

Feb. 9: The Senate meets for the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump.

Feb. 9, 11 a.m.: The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee meets for a hearing titled, “State of the U.S. Maritime Industry: Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Watch live here

Feb. 9, noon: Members of a House Energy and Commerce Committee subcommittee meet for a hearing on climate change.

Freight Corridor

Former federal policymakers call for bipartisanship.

Legislative Docket

Ed Markey

Markey

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) introduced legislation meant to support research for creating a universal coronavirus vaccine, or therapeutic. The bill would approve $250 million for each fiscal year from 2021 through 2024 for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Markey, a member of the Commerce Committee, said Feb. 4: “Investing the resources to find a vaccine that prevents all coronaviruses would be a milestone for global health and safety. The United States can be a global leader in developing a universal coronavirus vaccine or therapeutic that prevents or contains the next biothreat.”

Buzz

This month, congressional transportation leaders intend to begin considering President Biden’s multitrillion-dollar infrastructure plan, sources tell Transport Topics.

 

Favorite Video

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) has something to say.

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The Last Word

Our goal is to achieve net-zero emissions economy-wide by no later than 2050 and we have to act now to make that a reality.

Sen. Tom Carper, chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, on Feb. 4

Tom Carper

We publish weekly when Congress is in session. E-mail emulero@ttnews.com with tips. Follow us @eugenemulero and @transporttopics.

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