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The FMCSA’s $77 million safety investment is a win for drivers

10.3.2019 - 11:29 AM Comments: 0

On September 25, the FMCSA announced that it would be awarding $77.3 million in grants to state and education institutions to “enhance commercial motor vehicle safety.

The investment can prove to be a dramatic boost for drivers, as just this year 18 percent of vehicles were placed out-of-service during the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s International Roadcheck campaign, signaling that some additional resources invested into safety could be useful. 

In an effort to improve safety standards throughout the country, the money will be broken down into three grants, according to the FMCSA. 

The first grant will invest $43.3 million to enhance states’ CMV safety efforts and advance technological capabilities, the second will invest $32 million in Commercial Driver’s License Program Implementation, and finally, $2 million will go towards safety training for sixteen education institutions to help train veterans for jobs as commercial bus and truck drivers. 

The $43.3 million will be broken up between two grants, which consist of High Priority-Commercial Motor Vehicle grants and High Priority-Innovative Technology Deployment. While the former is utilized to increase CMV safety efforts, the latter will fund efforts to promote the deployment of intelligent transportation system applications for CMV operations, according to the FMCSA. 

With continued efforts to improve safety standards, it’ll be interesting to see how safety results change within the next year. If drivers truly receive additional training and research continues to be funded, they could greatly benefit from the influx of cash coming in to improve safety. 

With an infrastructure in place to train them on good safety habits, it could also open up more possibilities for drivers, as improvements in CSA scores could theoretically have a great impact on their livelihood. If their scores improve, then better loads and employment opportunities can become available to them. 

Additionally, the $32 million investment into state CDL programs could also be an important factor in improving safety throughout the trucking industry. The program provides financial assistance to states so they can reduce the number and severity of CMV crashes nationwide. 

To do so, states are required by the FMCSA to conduct knowledge and skills testing, maintain complete and accurate driver history records, and to impose appropriate disqualifications to those drivers who violate the law.

This investment, in addition to the FMCSA’s Crash Preventability Program, could greatly help drivers. The Crash Preventability Program allows drivers to avoid taking hits to their CSA scores if their crashes are deemed to be “not preventable,” which has already helped thousands of drivers. 

Nevertheless, while holding drivers accountable and investing in resources to help them could positively affect safety standards industry-wide, the FMCSA still has not addressed some of the glaring issues within their safety-rating system. 

The Safety Measurement System (SMS), which the FMCSA uses to calculate CSA scores, has had its fair share of criticism from people in the industry. Many have claimed that the system is inaccurate and a 2017 report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine confirmed that the SMS indeed had “data-quality issues.”

While the FMCSA could have invested in trying to find ways to improve the system, the current investments the agency has made should ultimately be seen as a win for drivers, as for the most part, they could provide necessary resources for them.

Additionally, depending on your view of the industry, the FMCSA’s $2 million education investment may not be as substantial as it should be. 

According to the FMCSA, the $2 million will go towards training veterans for jobs as commercial bus and truck drivers, which could create a multitude of jobs in an industry that continues to lose drivers. If the aim is to not only help veterans but also create more trucking jobs, then $2 million is nowhere near enough to make a huge difference. 

While parts of the investment could have potentially been used differently, the overall investment in safety is an enormous win for drivers. Ultimately, the additional resources should provide a better foundation for drivers to practice safety and be compliant, which is always a win for everyone. 

So what do you think about the FMCSA’s $77 million investment? Do you think it should have been allocated differently? Let us know in the comments or on social media?

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