Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Ex-FMCSA administrator: “Good policy, good data” drove Collins amendment

Count former FMCSA Administrator Annette M. Sandberg among those in the transportation industry who are fed up with the mainstream media’s misreporting of the passage of the Collins amendment in the Cromnibus funding bill earlier this month.

In a letter to the Bangor Daily News, Sandberg, who served as the second administrator in FMCSA history, said she was “perplexed by the unfair and inaccurate statements” being made by opponents of the amendment, named for U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine). The letter was posted to the newspaper’s website on Tuesday.

“Special interest groups have deliberately misled Congress and the public by distorting the safety record of the industry,” Sandberg writes. “For example, they have selectively chosen a narrow period (e.g., 2009-12), rather than the long term, to paint a negative picture of trucking. In fact, over the past decade (2003-12, the most recent year available), truck-involved fatalities declined 22 percent, and the truck-involved fatality rate (accounting for increased mileage exposure) dropped 37 percent.”

Sandberg spent 22 years in public safety, including three years from 2003 to 2006 as the top dog of the FMCSA. She is now the CEO of TransSafe Consulting LLC, which provides transportation, public safety and security consulting services.

“If there is one thing we can all agree on, it’s that safety is our top concern. That’s why I’m perplexed by the unfair and inaccurate statements being made by those who oppose a provision recently approved by Congress to temporarily suspend two new provisions in what’s called the “34-hour restart rule.” Let me be clear: This provision, sponsored by Sen. Susan Collins, debated in the open, and approved 21 to 9 by the Senate Appropriations Committee, will make the road safer.”

Sandberg goes on to say that while it may be “easy” (read: lazy) to characterize the issue as a fight between the trucking industry and safety advocates, the truth is that safety is everybody’s top priority.

“During my tenure and even since, I have found that the trucking industry — and safety advocates — believe that every crash on our highways, regardless of cause, is a tragedy. Truck drivers have families and loved ones who they want to get safely home to, as well,” she said.

The whole thing is worth a read. You can do so here.