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FMCSA 2020 priorities on display



As a part of the Transportation Research Board’s multi-day Annual Meeting, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) spent a morning session outlining its priorities for 2020. FMCSA presented updates on its analysis, research, and technology initiatives with an emphasis on reversing the trend of increasing roadway fatalities involving large trucks and buses.

Starting at the top with FMCSA’s Acting Administrator Jim Mullen, it is clear that the Agency’s focus in the year ahead will be improving safety. Mullen explained that the new AV 4.0 document, which was released by the Department of Transportation earlier in January, will ensure a consistent regulatory approach to rapidly-advancing autonomous vehicle (AV) technologies. AVs are predicted to drastically improve safety in the long run, but appropriate regulatory safeguards are needed today to guarantee individuals are not harmed in the testing and development phase. 

While fully autonomous vehicles are not dominating our roadways yet, advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) are. These extra safety features, such as lane departure warning systems and automatic emergency braking, are becoming increasingly prevalent on new trucks and buses. Once full-scale adoption of ADAS is achieved, the number of accidents and fatalities on our roadways should drastically decrease. For this reason, FMCSA is moving forward with a new initiative, dubbed “Tech-Celerate Now,” to encourage companies to incorporate these systems into their fleets.

Additionally, FMCSA’s Mullen announced that the Agency will be conducting a new crash causation study. As a part of the new research, which will likely begin the information-collection phase next year, FMCSA and the trucking industry will obtain actionable data as to the true reasons why accidents occur and how they can be prevented. FMCSA previously collected data through the Large Truck Crash Causation Study, released in 2006, and so the new initiative will be the first data collection effort of its kind in 15 years. TCA highly values this information collection as we utilize the data in many of the comments we file with FMCSA and in the discussions we have with Members of Congress on issues such as electronic logging devices and hours of service.

As more data is gleaned through research projects and the connected technologies onboard trucks, our country’s leaders will be able to implement better policies that will truly improve safety. TCA is encouraged by FMCSA’s research efforts and we look forward to working with our partners in government and the broader trucking industry to help achieve the goal of reducing roadway fatalities.