Congress debates FMCSA safety programs

Washington – A recent Senate hearing on the reauthorization of motor carrier safety programs reopened the debate surrounding safety regulation and its effect on business.

At a July 21 hearing of the Senate Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security Subcommittee, Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) announced a plan to introduce legislation that would require electronic onboard recorders to monitor hours of service, as well as more training for commercial drivers.

At the hearing, Lautenberg and other senators suggested that providing the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration with more power was necessary to remove unsafe drivers and carriers from the roadways in light of recent crashes. Other legislators said more regulation could place a burden on an industry vital to the country’s economy.

“We all certainly support efforts for safety and responsibility, but we need to do so in a way that also allows a very important industry – the motor carrier industry – to be able to thrive,” said Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH). New requirements or changes in laws could do more harm than good, and especially could have a greater financial effect on small businesses, which make up the majority of carriers, she said.

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