Federal agencies responsible for truck safety are requesting significant staffing level increases to help issue and oversee new regulations in fiscal year 2023.
According to the FY23 budget request released by the White House on Monday, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will look to boost full-time staffing levels from 1,186 positions that were part of the agency’s 2022 budget estimate to 1,285 in the FY23 request, an 8.3% increase. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is requesting a 20% increase — from 357 to 428 full-time positions.
“Most of those positions are to advance rulemakings, including heavy truck safety rules,” said NHTSA Deputy Administrator Steven Cliff, speaking at a media briefing on Monday.
FMCSA and NHTSA in February highlighted four rulemakings scheduled this year aimed at improving truck safety, including an update to safety fitness procedures used to rate truck compliance, automatic emergency braking for new trucks and the safe integration of autonomous driving systems.
FMCSA is also planning on issuing an advanced rulemaking on unique identification for trucks and trailers to help better target roadside safety inspections. In addition, FMCSA and NHTSA plan a joint rulemaking responding to petitions from American Trucking Associations and Roadsafe America to require the installation of speed-limiting devices on heavy vehicles.
The budget request would provide $2.5 billion in total funding for FMCSA ($874 million) and NHTSA ($1.59 billion), a 52% increase from the $857 million provided for the agencies in the FY2021 enacted budget (as opposed to 2022 budget estimates).
For the U.S. Department of Transportation overall, President Joe Biden is requesting $105 billion, which, added to the $37 billion included in federal infrastructure law, totals $142 billion.
“This will represent the second year of historic levels of funding for the department, following the $141 billion budget recently enacted in the FY22 omnibus spending bill,” said Deputy Transportation Secretary Polly Trottenberg.
The president’s 2023 budget also provides $68.9 billion for the Federal-aid Highway program — a 40% increase from the 2021 enacted level of $49.1 billion — to modernize, repair and improve roads and bridges.
For projects aimed at reducing freight bottlenecks, the budget includes $4 billion — $3 billion more than was approved in 2021 — for grant programs to support transportation projects that can show significant benefits across freight modes.
For the U.S. Maritime Administration, the budget requests $230 million for the Port Infrastructure Development Program for grants to improve port infrastructure and facilities and to stimulate economic growth in and around ports.
In addition to the budget request, DOT made public its FY2022-2026 Strategic Plan “that will provide a roadmap for how the Department implements this once-in-a-generation investment to create a transportation system that works for every American,” according to DOT. It includes priorities such as enhancing supply chain resilience, promoting economic competition, strengthening American leadership in zero-emission trucks, and a goal of reducing driver fatality and serious injury rates by 2026.
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