Commercial Motor Vehicles:

Significant Actions Remain to Improve Truck Safety

T-RCED-00-102: Published: Mar 2, 2000. Publicly Released: Mar 2, 2000.

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John H. Anderson, Jr
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the efforts being undertaken by the Department of Transportation's (DOT) newly established Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to reduce the number of large truck-related fatalities.

GAO noted that: (1) DOT has not yet developed a comprehensive strategy to achieve its goal of reducing large truck-related fatalities by 50 percent by 2009; (2) although the motor carrier administration has developed a draft Safety Action Plan to serve as its blueprint for achieving this goal, it has not determined the degree to which specific actions, or sets of related actions, in the plan would measurably improve motor carrier safety; (3) DOT has not fully implemented the recommendation GAO made in June 1999 to prioritize individual initiatives contained in its draft Safety Action Plan according to their potential for reducing truck-related fatalities; (4) DOT has not adopted GAO's recommendation to determine whether it can reasonably expect to accomplish all the actions in its draft plan with its expected budgetary and human resources; (5) GAO believes that developing a comprehensive, prioritized strategy is necessary, especially because of the magnitude of reductions in truck-related fatalities that DOT hopes to achieve; (6) DOT has made some progress on activities to improve truck and commercial passenger vehicle safety; (7) to meet the requirements of the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999, DOT established a new organizational structure to place greater focus on enforcement and compliance with motor carrier safety regulations; it also has established a separate division for commercial passenger vehicle safety; (8) over the past year, DOT has conducted more compliance reviews and assessed more civil penalties for violations of truck safety regulations; (9) DOT has also made some progress in obtaining the crash-related data that it needs to make informed decisions about the actions most likely to improve truck safety; and (10) it will be important for DOT to demonstrate that it can follow through on these efforts over the long term to meet the Secretary's goal of reducing large truck-related fatalities.

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