$8 million in grants enable PA state, local agencies to increase roadside inspections, conduct safety audits for trucks

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) on Aug. 25 announced more than $8 million in federal grants to improve commercial truck and bus safety across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

FMCSA Deputy Administrator William Bronrott joined city and state law enforcement officials for the announcement at a motorcoach safety inspection checkpoint in downtown Philadelphia this morning.

“Above all else, safety is our top priority,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “These grants empower our Pennsylvania partners with the vital resources they need to raise the bar for commercial truck and bus safety, and to swiftly remove unsafe operators from the road.”

FMCSA awarded $7.9 million to the Pennsylvania State Police, Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to strengthen enforcement oversight at high-crash corridors throughout the state, conduct safety audits of new truck and bus companies and upgrade the commercial driver’s license knowledge test from paper to electronic form at testing facilities across the state.

FMCSA also awarded $174,370 to the City of Philadelphia Police Department to support its full-time commercial motor vehicle (CMV) inspection unit and to increase safety inspection strike forces and other traffic enforcement activities at popular destinations. FMCSA additionally awarded the Pittsburgh Police Department $239,991 to bolster commercial truck and bus inspections at tunnel entrances and to train its CMV enforcement unit.

“Local and state law enforcement are our first line of defense for identifying and removing unsafe commercial trucks and buses from our roads,” said FMCSA Deputy Administrator Bronrott. “These targeted resources will help us save lives by strengthening compliance with bus and truck safety standards across Pennsylvania and along the I-95 corridor.”

As FMCSA announced its grant award at a motorcoach passenger drop-off and inspection point near Philadelphia’s National Constitution Center Hall, Philadelphia police officers were conducting full bus driver and vehicle safety inspections. The Philadelphia inspection sweep is part of Pennsylvania’s Statewide Motorcoach Inspection Strikeforce, which runs from August 21 through August 27, 2011.

In addition to FMCSA’s grant and enforcement efforts, the agency also offers a “Think Safety: Every Trip, Every Time” pre-trip safety checklist that helps consumers review a bus company’s safety record, safety rating and USDOT operating authority before buying a ticket or hiring a bus company for group travel. The checklist is available online at FMCSA’s Passenger Bus Safety Web site: http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety-security/pcs/Index.aspx. FMCSA also encourages consumers to report any unsafe bus company, vehicle or driver to the agency through a toll free hotline 1-888-DOT-SAFT (1-888-368-7238) or FMCSA’s consumer complaint Web site: https://nccdb.fmcsa.dot.gov/HomePage.asp.