U.S. DOT unveils safety plan; OOIDA critical of truck parking omission

January 27, 2022

Mark Schremmer

|

The U.S. Department of Transportation unveiled its National Roadway Safety Strategy – a roadmap for addressing the national crisis in roadway fatalities and serious injuries.

The plan includes updates to traffic control devices, expanded use of technology, and $6 billion for the Safe Streets and Roads for All program.

However, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association pointed out a glaring omission. Despite the administration’s continued references to truck drivers as essential workers, the plan offers nothing to address the truck parking crisis.

“When infrastructure fails passenger vehicles and their drivers, it is a top concern for DOT,” OOIDA President Todd Spencer said. “When it fails those who replenish our supply chain, it appears to be an afterthought, even though people may go hungry.

“Leadership in D.C. often acknowledges how truckers are the heroes of the economy, but D.C. continually fails to prioritize one of truckers’ biggest safety concerns. Saying trucks and drivers are essential isn’t just a slogan. They deserve a safe operating environment and without places to stop for rest, highway safety for all users is compromised.”

OOIDA has been vocal about the lack of truck parking and how it is a safety issue for truck drivers, as well as the motoring public. With Rep. Mike Bost, R-Ill., OOIDA helped craft the Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act. After funding for truck parking failed to be included in the recently passed infrastructure package, OOIDA asked Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in November to use $1 billion in discretionary funding to tackle the truck parking crisis.

Months later, the administration has not unveiled any plans to address the issue.

“Truckers need safe places to rest when they are tired or have reached their maximum driving hours under federal law,” Spencer said. “The truck parking shortage is a national safety crisis that has been extensively researched and affirmed by the Department of Transportation. Yet this plan lacks any recognition that truck parking capacity must be increased to improve safety on our highways.”

National Roadway Safety Strategy

Buttigieg announced the plan during a news conference on Thursday, Jan. 27.

“We cannot tolerate the continuing crisis of roadway deaths in America,” he said. “These deaths are preventable, and that’s why we’re launching the National Roadway Safety Strategy – a bold, comprehensive plan with significant new funding from President Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure law. We will work with every level of government and industry to deliver results, because every driver, passenger and pedestrian should be certain that they’re going to arrive at their destination safely every time.”

The plan uses a five-pronged approach including safer people, safer roads, safer vehicles, safer speeds and post-crash care.

The DOT said that reducing traffic fatalities will take “sustained and concerted action from everyone across all sectors and all levels of government.”

The Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety called the plan a step in the right direction.

“The key to the success of the (plan) will be swift implementation of identified solutions, which have been proven to prevent crashes and save lives,” the safety group wrote. “The DOT’s commitment to zero fatalities means zero room for hesitation and inaction.”

The safety group called for the expanded use of technology, including advanced driver assistance systems and automatic emergency braking.

OOIDA has previously said the government should pump the brakes on any mandates regarding automatic emergency braking until the technology is perfected. LL

Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.