Robust Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program Critical to Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety
Robust funding levels are critical to ensuring an effective Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP).
The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) supports increased funding for the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program, in order to keep pace with the growing commercial motor vehicle (CMV) industry and the responsibilities associated with regulating it.
CVSA supports providing adequate resources for State CMV inspector training purposes to ensure uniform enforcement of motor carrier safety and hazardous materials regulations.
CVSA supports ongoing efforts to identify sustainable, long-term revenue sources to address the Highway Trust Fund solvency, in order to ensure stability for the MCSAP.
In the event that no new revenue is available, CVSA urges Congress to ensure that MCSAP funding is not reduced, but remains at the levels set by the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act of 2012 (MAP-21).
The Federal government entrusts the States with the responsibility of enforcing the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) and the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMRs) and, for that purpose, Congress provides funding to the States, through the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program. The States use funds through the MCSAP to conduct enforcement activities, train enforcement personnel, purchase necessary equipment, update software and other technology, and conduct outreach and education campaigns to raise awareness related to CMV safety issues. The MCSAP pays the salaries of more than 12,000 part time and full time CMV safety professionals. Those people conduct more than 3.4 million CMV roadside inspections, 34,000 new entrant safety audits, and 6,000 compliance reviews each year.1
The benefits of the MCSAP are well documented and every dollar invested in the State programs yields a big return for taxpayers. According to research and figures from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), CVSA estimates that the MCSAP has an estimated benefit to cost ratio of 18:1. Every roadside inspection conducted yields an estimated $2,400 in safety benefits. And, of course, effective enforcement of the FMCSRs helps save lives every day, keeping dangerous vehicles and unqualified drivers off the nation’s roads. In 2001, the number of registered large trucks and buses was just over 8.6 million. Since then, that number has grown 35 percent, to 11.6 million in 2010. Despite this increase in the number of CMVs on the roads, the number of fatalities due to crashes involving large trucks and buses has gone down 27 percent. The number of CMV crash-related injuries also decreased over that time frame by 30 percent.2 These improvements in CMV safety were achieved, in part, through investments in the MCSAP.
In order to maintain this downward trend in CMV crashes and fatalities, the MCSAP must be adequately funded. According to FMCSA, the agency regulates approximately 500,000 active interstate motor carriers, including 12,000 passenger carriers, and seven million active commercial driver licensees (CDL holders). The State and Local agencies that receive MCSAP funding are responsible for ensuring that those 500,000 motor carriers are operating safely. Furthermore, the CMV enforcement landscape is constantly evolving and changing as Congress and FMCSA work to refine and improve the FMCSRs. The most recent transportation bill, MAP-21, included several promising improvements to CMV safety, such as more stringent standards to become a motor carrier, registration requirements, etc. The States, along with FMCSA, will be tasked with implementing and enforcing these changes. With a growing industry, and new and improved regulations and requirements, it is imperative that the States receive the funds necessary to effectively carry out their mission. CVSA supports increased funding for the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program, in order to keep pace with the growing CMV industry and the responsibilities associated with regulating it. Further, at the very least, moderate increases in funding levels are necessary to keep pace with inflation, as stagnant funding levels result in decreased buying power year to year.
Training is critical to a uniform, effective program. In addition to the training required initially for every new employee, each new rule or change to regulation requires additional training to bring enforcement personnel up to date. Each new exemption provided to industry and the various advancements in vehicle technology also require training. Simply put, enforcement personnel need to understand the rules they’re asked to enforce. Funds are required for the development of training materials, instructors, and travel to training courses. CVSA supports providing adequate resources to maintain and enhance existing State CMV inspector training programs to ensure uniform enforcement of motor carrier safety and hazardous materials regulations.
Recognizing that future funding for the MCSAP is directly tied to the long-term solvency of the Highway Trust Fund, CVSA supports ongoing efforts to identify sustainable, long-term revenue sources to address the Highway Trust Fund solvency, in order to ensure stability for the MCSAP.
However, in the event that no new revenue is available, CVSA urges Congress to ensure that MCSAP funding is not reduced, but remains at the levels set by MAP-21. According to a report completed for FMCSA in 2007, the average ‘cost’ (including wages and benefits) of a State safety inspector was estimated at $66,052.51.3 This means that for every $1 million invested in the MCSAP, 15 jobs are created or maintained. Conversely, every $1 million reduction in MCSAP funding results in jobs lost or positions unfilled at the State level. When States see a reduction in their MCSAP funding, resulting in jobs lost, their programs are reduced and fewer inspections, compliance reviews and safety audits are conducted, reducing the safety benefit of such activities discussed above and undermining years of improvement in CMV safety.
1 Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration 2012-2016 Strategic Plan. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. May 2012.
2 Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts 2010: Final Version, FMCSA-RRA-12-023. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. August 2012.
3 Roadside Inspection Costs. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. October 2007.