America's Commercial Vehicles Help Deliver Distracted Driving Message

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The Official Blog of the U.S. Secretary of Transportation

DOTsecretaryLaHood.jpgIt's no secret that I am serious about our fight to end distracted driving.  For three years, DOT has been actively working to make our roads safer by getting drivers to focus on one task and one task only: driving.

Throughout that time, we've been fortunate to have terrific safety partners to help us deliver the message that one text or call could wreck it all.  And I'm happy to add the Commercial Vehicle Training Association (CVTA) to the roster of organizations and companies supporting our work.

Last month, a semi from Smith & Solomon, a commercial driving school, pulled up in front of DOT headquarters here in Washington, DC.  Driver John Diab, the CVTA Vice Chair and Smith & Solomon's Chief Operating Officer, was greeted by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator Anne Ferro, Deputy Administrator Bill Bronrott, and CVTA Executive Director Mike O'Connell.

An hour later, Diab's truck was festooned with large decals  bearing our signature message.

The "One Text or Call Could Wreck it All" decals were designed to be large so they would be easy to see wherever the truck goes.  And, with the support of the CVTA, we hope trucks all over America will soon be carrying this important safety message.

As Administrator Ferro said, "It is powerful to have the trucking industry behind us, enhancing our campaign against distracted driving, because as traveling billboards, those trucks are so visible to other drivers across the country."

DOT has taken several regulatory steps to ensure that commercial drivers don't text or use handheld phones behind the wheel.  But we've had to leave passenger vehicle laws to the States or to Congress.  Now, with this campaign, truck drivers and commercial driving instructors are helping us educate non-commercial drivers about the dangers of distracted driving.

Said driver John Diab, “We are honored to represent CVTA and our industry’s commitment to eliminating distracted driving. We believe strongly in DOT’s campaign because it reinforces our commitment - instituted throughout our training programs - to ensure our drivers are aware of the dangers of distracted driving.”

Well, John, to see the nation's commercial drivers take up the banner in this important safety mission is really something, so I think the
honor is all ours.

The Official Blog of the U.S. Secretary of Transportation

smith and solomon back of the trailer

Second Round of Funding to Improve Veterans Access to Transportation

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U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood Announces Second Round of Funding to Improve Veterans’ Access to Transportation

Veterans Transportation and Community Living Initiative Funds Innovative “One-Call, One-Click” Transportation Resource Centers

WASHINGTON – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced the availability of approximately $30 million to create or increase access to local and regional transportation resources that veterans and military families depend on to get to work, school and other destinations. The transit funding would boost access to jobs and training that America’s service members need and deserve.

"In his State of the Union address, President Obama rightfully noted that this generation of heroes has made the United States safer and more respected around the world,” said Secretary LaHood. "As tens of thousands of our military personnel return home, we must reward their sacrifices and those of their families with the services they need to more seamlessly reintegrate into their communities as quickly as possible.  This investment helps to do that, and it serves as one small thank-you for their honorable service.”

The previous round of Veterans Transportation and Community Living grants, announced in November 2011, provided $34.6 million for 55 projects in 32 states and Guam. Demand for the program was strong, with the Department receiving 70 eligible proposals seeking $52 million in funding requests to create “one-call, one-click” transportation resource centers around the United States last year.

The second round of Veterans Transportation and Community Living Initiative grants, funded by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), will continue to help states and communities build or expand “one-click, one-call” centers that offer comprehensive information on local transportation options and other community services, with just a single phone call or click of the mouse.

“The President asked that we do all that we can to support those who have served our country, and we are answering his challenge,” said Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff. “We must ensure that our nation’s veterans and their families are able to connect to jobs, school, work and medical appointments wherever they live—and improving access to reliable, affordable transportation is key to helping them do so.”

The notice of funding availability for the program’s second round of grants is published today in the Federal Register ( Proposals are due on April 19, 2012. A list of the projects that have already been funded under the previous round is available here.

The Veterans Transportation and Community Living Initiative is led by the federal Coordinating Council on Access and Mobility, a permanent partnership of federal departments working together to better coordinate federal programs on behalf of people with disabilities, the elderly and low-income individuals. The Council is chaired by Secretary LaHood.

Additional information on the Veterans Transportation and Community Living Initiative is available at

Coping with CSA: Love it, hate it, or ignore it

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By Mark B. Solomon - DC Velocity

The government safety initiative isn't going away, so those affected by the program need to make their peace with it.

CSA 2010, the federal government's far-reaching initiative to remove unsafe commercial drivers from the nation's roads, has rolled into its second full year of operation generating as much controversy, frustration, and hope as it did in its first.

Implemented by the Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), CSA uses a complex methodology to rate the nation's motor carriers on safety. Short for "Compliance, Safety and Accountability," CSA incorporates a "Safety Measurement System," or SMS, that assesses a trucker's on-road performance over the most recent two-year period and indicates whether the assessment should prompt the agency to dig deeper into the carrier's operational fitness.

The SMS includes seven "Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories" known as "BASICs." Embedded in the seven categories are more than 640 infractions that a driver and vehicle can be cited for. CSA replaces SafeStat, the government's prior safety measurement system.

The SMS database is populated by data generated from roadside inspections triggered by infractions such as speeding on an interstate or state highway. A speeding violation gives law enforcement "probable cause" to pull a truck over and conduct what is known as a walk-around inspection of the vehicle and driver. Any infractions that are then found will accumulate as points on a company's safety "scorecard," which is updated monthly.

Should the point total exceed the FMCSA's threshold for safety compliance, government inspectors will conduct an in-house audit of the company's operations. From there, a determination will be made if the driver is fit to continue behind the wheel... Continue reading...

Smith & Solomon Joins with CVTA to Support DOT's Commitment

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Contact: Tom Cosentino
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Smith and Solomon Truck Represents Trucking Industry at Department of Transportation Photo Opportunity in Washington D.C.

New Jersey, January 30, 2012  - Smith and Solomon, a leading commercial driving school with nine schools located in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware, has joined with other members of the Commercial Vehicle Training Association (CVTA), comprised of truck driving schools across the country, to participate in the Department of Transportation’s campaign to eliminate Distracted Driving.

On Thursday, January 27 in Washington D.C., a Smith and Solomon truck was parked in front of the Department of Transportation (DOT) for a special photo opportunity involving representatives of leading trucking organizations, such as CVTA and ATA, Smith and Solomon executives and Anne S.  Ferro, Administrator, U.S.  DOT Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and Deputy Administrator, William A. Bronrott.

At the event, Administrator Ferro praised the trucking industry for joining the campaign and agreeing to place “One Text or Call Could Wreck It All” decals on trucks that will serve as billboards for the campaign across the country.

The Administrator then placed the decal (size 18.25”x28”) on the Smith and Solomon truck, representing what ultimately will be thousands of trucks to showcase the decal and bring national attention to the distracted driving campaign.

“We were so honored to be asked by the DOT to bring a truck to their headquarters in  our nation’s capital and represent CVTA and  our industry’s commitment to eliminating distracted driving,” said John Diab, Chief Operating Officer of Smith and Solomon. “We believe strongly in the Department of Transportation’s campaign as it reinforces the commitment we have already instituted throughout our training programs, to ensure our drivers are aware of the dangers of distracted driving.”

The US Department of Transportation is taking the lead in eliminating distracted driving nationwide. As part of this effort, FMCSA is working closely with other modes on a “One Text or Call Could Wreck It All” consumer campaign. This campaign is targeted to the driving public and is designed to increase awareness about the dangers of using a mobile device while driving. FMCSA is asking the Commercial Motor Vehicle industry to embrace the effort to reduce distracted driving by displaying these decals on commercial vehicles.

Smith and Solomon operates nine training centers, including five in New Jersey: Bordentown, Cherry Hill, Edison, Linden and Lakewood, one school in New Castle, Delaware and three in Pennsylvania in Dupont, Norristown and Philadelphia.

For more information on Smith and Solomon, visit:
To learn more about the Department of Transportation’s efforts to eliminate distracted driving, visit

no texting

$826 Mil to Modernize and Repair the Nation’s Transit Buses & Facilities

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U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood Announces More Than $826 Million to Modernize and Repair the Nation’s Transit Buses and Facilities, Highlights President Obama’s Call for Greater Investment as Part of an America Built to Last

Discretionary Funds Support State-of-Good-Repair, Sustainability Objectives for Transit

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced the availability of $826.5 million in Fiscal Year 2012 discretionary funds to modernize and repair transit vehicles and facilities around the country and promote the widespread use of sustainable clean fuel. The funding commitment highlights President Obama’s call for investing in an America that’s built to last.

“An American economy that’s built to last must be built on a solid foundation, and when we have buses, transit facilities, and other equipment that’s in disrepair, we simply cannot afford to ignore them,” Secretary LaHood said. “The President knows that transportation projects like those we’ll fund from today’s announcement will help provide businesses and families with the safest, fastest, most efficient way to connect with opportunity.”

“Reliable and desirable transit systems enable hard-working American families to keep billions of dollars in their wallets rather than hand them over at the gas pump,” said Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff. “These investments will ensure that transit remains a dependable option and advance President Obama’s goal for an America Built to Last.”

The notice of funding availability (NOFA) published in today’s Federal Register invites competitive proposals for three of the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) top policy priorities through the discretionary Bus and Bus Facilities and Clean Fuels grant programs, all subject to funding availability, as follows:

  • State of Good Repair. Approximately $650 million available in FY2012 discretionary funds will bring the three-year total to $1.5 billion for over 300 projects aimed at replacing or rehabilitating transit infrastructure and for transit asset management. As transit ridership continues to increase putting even greater demand on our transit systems, FTA will also consider maintenance facility and equipment expansion requests to help address ongoing capacity constraints that limit a transit agency’s ability to maintain vehicles and equipment in a state of good repair.
  • Livability. Approximately $125 million is available for projects that will improve the quality of life through expanded transportation choices, new and better intermodal connections, reduced congestion, and/or services aimed at economically disadvantaged populations, including senior citizens and people with disabilities.
  • Clean Fuels. Approximately $51.5 million is available to help communities meet national air quality standards that do not do so now. The program also supports the development and marketing of emerging clean fuel and advanced propulsion technologies for transit buses. This year, as in years past, FTA will consider expanding the eligible applicant pool by drawing upon additional discretionary Bus and Bus Facilities Program funds.

These discretionary funds are made available through FTA’s Bus and Bus Facilities and Clean Fuels Programs. The public announcement of recipients receiving funds will be likely be made in July 2012. A complete schedule of FTA’s upcoming discretionary programs, along with details on FTA’s FY2012 apportionments, may be found here.

New Regulations Added To SMS

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DOT Safety Regulation Update Fast-Fax™
Week of January 17, 2012
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Regulations are an ever changing thing. This week, FMCSA has announced the addition of several recently created regulations, and their violation weights, to the SMS methodology.

As anyone familiar with the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) system will surely know, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration ranks its regulations in order of the likelihood that violating the regulation would cause an accident. These scores, or ‘Violation Severity Weights’, give a carrier a good idea of how badly the violation will affect their CSA Behavior Analysis Safety Improvement Categories (BASIC) scores at the end of the month.

Regulations, however, are an ever changing thing and every now and again, FMCSA is required to issue updates to the Safety Measurement System methodology. This week, FMCSA issued updates regarding the new cellphone use regulations.

New Weights

All of the new regulations were added to the Unsafe Driving BASIC so violating them will affect your Unsafe Driving score.

  • 177.804(b): Failure to comply with 49 CFR 392.80 - Texting while Operating a CMV - Placardable HM.
  • Violation Severity Weight: 10
  • 177.804(c): Fail to comply with 392.82 - Using Mobile Phone while Operating a CMV - HM.
  • Violation Severity Weight: 10
  • 392.80(a): Driving a commercial motor vehicle while texting.
  • Violation Severity Weight: 10
  • 392.82(a)(1): Using a hand-held mobile telephone while operating a CMV.
  • Violation Severity Weight: 10
  • 392.82(a)(2): Allowing or requiring driver to use a hand-held mobile telephone while operating a CMV
  • Violation Severity Weight: 10

Heavy Penalties

As you may have noticed, all of these violations have been rated a 10: this is the maximum ranking in the system. This means that FMCSA have assessed that violating these regulations is very likely to cause an accident. You can expect that tickets issued for these violations, and the FMCSA investigations that result from them, are going to come with very heavy penalties.

February Report

These new violations were put into the SMS methodology in January so you should see their effect in your February report. Also in that report, FMCSA has broken down six Vehicle Maintenance violations into 22 separate violations. This was in an effort to paint a clearer picture as to who was responsible for the error, the carrier or the intermodal equipment provider.

If you have BASIC scores that were previously elevated because of violating these regulations, you may notice a change in that score in your February report.

Violation Weights

For those of you unfamiliar with how the CSA system works, and the importance of the weights, we have included a brief refresher course on how FMCSA judges as violation based on time and severity.

Under SMS, all violations are time and severity weighted. So, a violation for not wearing a seatbelt 18 months ago will impact a carrier’s ranking a lot less than a reckless driving citation from 60 days ago. Below are brief explanations of the two types of violation weights used in SMS.

Severity Weight: Violations are assigned a weight based on the likelihood that such a violation would cause a crash. The least likely culprits are given a score of 1, while the most likely are given a 10. FMCSA has published a table that lists severity weights for violations in each BASICs category. Open the PDF below to view severity weight by BASIC:

Time Weight: Under SMS, a violation is weighted based on the amount of time that has passed since the violation occurred. Violations committed in the last 6 months are given a 3. Violations committed between 6 and 12 months ago are given a time weight of 2. Violations committed between 12 and 24 months are given a weight of 1.

Editor: Roxanne Swidrak, Vice President, Operations • 1-800-253-5506 • • Vol. 111, No. 723 • © Foley Carrier Services, LLC. 2011

Fourth Round of Funding Under Highly Successful TIGER Program

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U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood Announces Fourth Round of Funding Under Highly Successful TIGER Program

Following President Obama's call in his State of the Union address for greater infrastructure investment as part of “An America Built to Last,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced the availability of funding for transportation projects under a fourth round of the popular TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) Discretionary Grant program. TIGER 2012 will make $500 million available for surface transportation projects having a significant impact on the nation, a metropolitan area, or region.

The previous three rounds of the TIGER program provided $2.6 billion to 172 projects in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Demand for the program has been overwhelming, and during the previous three rounds, the Department of Transportation received more than 3,348 applications requesting more than $95 billion for transportation projects across the country.

“President Obama made clear in his State of the Union address that investing in transportation means putting people back to work, and that’s just what our TIGER program is doing in communities across the country,” said Secretary LaHood. “Americans are demanding investments in highways, ports, commuter rail, streetcars, buses, and high-speed rail. These kinds of projects not only mean a stronger economic future for the U.S., but jobs for Americans today.”

As in previous rounds, high-speed rail and intercity passenger rail projects remain eligible for funding. TIGER 2012 provides for the possibility of up to $100 million being used toward these projects. TIGER 2012 will also continue to encourage the development of transportation projects in rural areas, providing $120 million for rural transportation projects.

On November 18, 2011, the President signed the FY 2012 Appropriations Act, which provided $500 million for Department of Transportation infrastructure investments. Like the first three rounds, TIGER 2012 grants are for capital investments in surface transportation infrastructure and are to be awarded on a competitive basis.

Projects will be evaluated on primary criteria that include safety, economic competitiveness, livability, environmental sustainability, state of repair and short-term job creation.

Pre-applications are due February 20 and applications are due March 19. You can click here to view the Notice of Funding Availability.