FMCSA awards nearly $500M in grants in effort to curb highway fatalities

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Trucking news and briefs for Monday, June 6, 2022:

FMCSA awards MCSAP grants to curb rising highway fatalities

With fatalities involving commercial motor vehicle crashes increasing sharply, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on Thursday announced that it would award more than $463 million in grants to states to reduce CMV-involved crashes, fatalities and injuries through commercial vehicle-focused safety programs.

FMCSA’s Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP) grant program provides funding to state and local law enforcement and other government agencies for safety inspections of trucks, investigations of motor carriers in response to safety concerns and audits of new trucking companies “to reinforce the importance of responsible operation and ensure the safe movement of goods and passengers in the U.S. economy,” FMCSA said.

These grants come after a significant rise in fatalities involving large trucks. In preliminary 2021 data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there was a 13% increase in fatalities from 2020. Earlier this year, DOT announced the National Roadway Safety Strategy (NRSS) to address traffic fatalities and serious injuries by adopting the “safe system” approach, which focuses on safer roads, safer people, safer vehicles, safer speeds, and better post-crash care. These grants will help DOT implement the NRSS, FMCSA added.

"We are using resources available through the President's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to award more funding than ever before -- a 52% increase from last year -- to help prevent truck and bus crashes in every state and territory," said the U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. "These grants will help improve the safety of our trucks and buses and save lives on our nation’s roadways.”  

All 50 States, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands will receive federal funds. 

[Related: Traffic deaths reach 16-year high, NHTSA estimates]

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Top 250 carrier recognizes 182 safe drivers

PGT Trucking (CCJ Top 250, No. 101) recognized 51 Million Mile Drivers, 106 Safe Drivers and 25 Premier Professionals at the company’s annual awards event held at the Willows Event Center in Industry, Pennsylvania, on May 21. The company said the recognized drivers set the standard for excellence at PGT Trucking and throughout the industry.

"It is an honor and a privilege to recognize our Million Mile and Safe Drivers," said Pat Gallagher, PGT Trucking CEO. "Since the pandemic, there has been an increased number of vehicles on the road, and these proud professionals have continued to drive safely against all odds."

PGT's Safe Drivers have driven for the company for more than five years but less than one million miles, without a safety incident. Its Million Mile Drivers achieved the designation by driving over a million miles without a safety incident. Finally, PGT's Premier Professionals are the safest and most reliable drivers in the fleet, and they maintain superior performance levels at all times, the company said.

PGT has recognized its Million Mile and Safe Drivers for more than 20 years, and the Million Mile and Safe Driver Celebration is the leading event for PGT drivers, office staff and their guests.

The top award winners for the event included Tyler Damazo, Terminal Manager of the Year; Chuck Penska, recipient of the Hobert Hill Award for Agent of the Year; Shawn Hart, recipient of the Bill Wright Award for Team Player of the Year; Jennifer Kopp, PGT MVP of the Year; Craig Musgrave, Technician of the Year; Christopher Cousins, Safety Professional of the Year; Craig Marple, recipient of the David Levin Award for Company Driver of the Year; Terrence Fitzgerald, recipient of the Harry "Buster" Barnes Award for Independent Contractor of the Year; Christopher Mullinnix, Rookie Driver of the Year; and David Brainard, Certified PRO Trainer of the Year.

This year, PGT introduced the Terry "Kuz" Kusniar Award, given in honor of Terry Kusniar, a Premier Professional Driver with PGT through 2021. The award is presented to the Premier Professional Driver who best exemplifies loyalty, professional excellence, a commitment to customer service, and a readiness to share their opinions. Michael Carreon was the first recipient of this award.

PGT also inducted eight new Million Mile Drivers, including Mark Amezcua, Bobby Burlile, Clifford Heaton, Matthew Kroft, David Morrow, Marcelino Rivera, Ross Tindall and William Tucker.

Additionally, a special presentation from Hill International Trucks, LLC recognized the 2,000 trucks PGT has purchased from their dealership over the last four decades. The milestone International LoneStar was on display at the event and will be added into PGT's fleet.

CVSA launches updated emergency declarations website

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, working with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, has updated, improved and re-released its emergency declarations website

In addition to the content previously available on the site, CVSA's emergency declarations website now also provides: 

  • Information on changes to allowable weights through a standard set of pertinent information, which includes contact information for each state’s overweight permitting office 
  • An interactive map of declarations throughout Canada, Mexico and the U.S. 
  • The ability to subscribe to notices of new declarations
  • Information on the issuer of the relief, the type of relief granted, and emergency declarations’ beginning and end dates 
  • Comprehensive exemption details, including all relevant information for vehicle permits for size, overweight restrictions on interstates, waivers for overweight restrictions on state roads, and marking and lighting relief
  • Contact information for the jurisdiction’s issuer

Previously, the emergency declarations website focused on emergency relief of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations § 390-399 provided to motor carriers through the states or FMCSA. CVSA has expanded the site’s offerings and capabilities and improved the user experience, CVSA said. 

During an emergency, moving relief supplies efficiently to an affected area may require shippers to route through multiple jurisdictions. To facilitate speedy delivery of such supplies, jurisdictions may use emergency declarations to temporarily alter certain requirements for shippers and motor carriers. There may be multiple sources of information about waivers, amendments, extensions, exemptions, executive orders, etc., as well as changes to allowable vehicle weights issued during emergencies, which results in confusion among drivers, shippers, motor carriers and state departments of transportation.

CVSA says the emergency declarations website aims to eliminate that confusion by offering one easy-to-access, up-to-date public online repository that the commercial motor vehicle enforcement community and the motor carrier industry may reference at any time.

“Providing necessary regulatory relief during emergencies is crucial to preventing loss of life and preserving critical transportation infrastructure,” said CVSA Executive Director Collin Mooney. “CVSA’s emergency declarations website is a reliable online source for emergency information, resulting in improved movement of critical relief supplies during national, regional and local emergencies.”

CVSA will be offering a webinar on Friday, June 24, about the enhanced CVSA emergency declarations website and its new features.