Building the Road Safety Profession in the Public Sector: Special Report 289

National Academies Press
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TRB Special Report 289: Building the Road Safety Profession in the Public Sector examines the growing need for experts at all levels of government to develop and implement systems- and science-based approaches to road safety management. According to the committee that authored the report, the lack of professional recognition and comprehensive road safety education and training opportunities is threatening the ability of public agencies to build the knowledgeable and skilled road safety workforce that is needed to make safety advances. To address this need, the report recommends that the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and the Governors Highway Safety Association forge a broad-based alliance of public, private, and educational organizations to champion the road safety profession. The report recommends that the alliance encourage states to take advantage of federal workforce training funds for the purpose of developing road safety professionals and to advocate comprehensive road safety education and training by universities, including the many publicly funded transportation and safety research centers. In addition, the report urges the alliance to explore the creation of one or more specialized institutes to provide comprehensive instruction and training for road safety professionals.
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Publisher
National Academies Press
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Published on
Nov 23, 2007
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Pages
114
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ISBN
9780309179508
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / Industries / Transportation
Business & Economics / Labor
Transportation / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM free.
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Transportation Research Board
TRB Special Report 267 - Regulation of Weights, Lengths, and Widths of Commercial Motor Vehicles recommends the creation of an independent public organization to evaluate the effects of truck traffic, pilot studies of new truck designs, and a change in federal law authorizing states to issue permits for operation of larger trucks on the Interstates.

In 1991, Congress placed a freeze on maximum truck weights and dimensions. Some safety groups were protesting against the safety implications of increased truck size and weight, and the railroads were objecting to the introduction of vehicles they deemed to have an unfair advantage. Railroads, unlike trucking firms, must pay for the capital costs of their infrastructure. The railroads contend that large trucks do not pay sufficient taxes to compensate for the highway damage they cause and the environmental costs they generate. Although Congress apparently hoped it had placed a cap on maximum truck dimensions in 1991, such has not proven to be the case.

Carriers operating under specific conditions have been able to seek and obtain special exceptions from the federal freeze by appealing directly to Congress (without any formal review of the possible consequences), thereby encouraging additional firms to seek similar exceptions. In the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century, Congress requested a TRB study to review federal policies on commercial vehicle dimensions.

The committee that undertook the study that resulted in Special Report 267 found that regulatory analyses of the benefits and costs of changes in truck dimensions are hampered by a lack of information. Regulatory decisions on such matters will always entail a degree of risk and uncertainty, but the degree of uncertainty surrounding truck issues is uunusually high and unnecessary. The committee concluded that the uncertainty could be alleviated if procedures were established for carrying out a program oof basic and applied research, and if evaluation and monitoring were permanent components of the administration of trucking regulations.

The committee recommended immediate changes in federal regulations that would allow for a federally supervised permit program. The program would permit the operation of vehicles heavier than would normally be allowed, provided that the changes applied only to vehicles with a maximum weight of 90,000 pounds, double trailer configurations with each trailer up to 33 feet, and an overall weight limit governed by the federal bridge formula. Moreover, enforcement of trucks operating under such a program should be strengthened, and the permits should require that users pay the costs they occasion. States should be free to choose whether to participate in the permit program. Those that elected to do so would be required to have in place a program of bridge management, safety monitoring, enforcement, and cost recovery, overseen by the federal government.

The fundamental problem involved in evaluating proposals for changes in truck dimensions is that their effects can often only be estimated or modeled. The data available for estimating safety consequences in particular are inadequate and probably always will be. Thus, the committee that conducted this study concluded that the resulting analyses usually involve a high degree of uncertainty. What is needed is some way to evaluate potential changes through limited and carefully controlled trials, much as proposed new drugs are tested before being allowed in widespread use.

The committee recommended that a new independent entity be created to work with private industry in evaluating new concepts and recommending changes to regulatory agencies. Limited pilot tests would be required, which would need to be carefully designed to avoid undue risks and ensure proper evaluation. Special vehicles could be allowed to operate under carefully controlled circumstances, just as oversize and overweight vehicles are allowed to operate under special permits in many states. Changes in federal laws and regulations would be required to allow states to issue such permits on an expanded network of highways, under the condition that a rigorous program of monitoring and evaluation be instituted.Special Report 269 Summary

Transportation Research Board
TRB Special Report 305: Structural Integrity of Offshore Wind Turbines: Oversight of Design, Fabrication, and Installation explores the U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement (BOEMRE) approach to overseeing the development and safe operation of wind turbines on the outer continental shelf, with a focus on structural safety. The committee that developed the report recommended that in order to facilitate the orderly development of offshore wind energy and support the stable economic development of this nascent industry, the United States needs a set of clear requirements that can accommodate future design development.

The report recommends that BOEMRE develop a set of requirements that establish goals and objectives with regard to structural integrity, environmental performance, and energy generation. The committee found that the risks to human life and the environment associated with offshore wind farms are substantially lower than for other industries such as offshore oil and gas, because offshore wind farms are primarily unmanned and contain minimal quantities of hazardous substances. This finding implies that an approach with significantly less regulatory oversight may be taken for offshore wind farms. Under this approach, industry would be responsible for proposing sets of standards, guidelines, and recommended practices that meet the performance requirements established by BOEMRE.

The domestic industry can build on standards, guidelines, and practices developed in Europe, where the offshore wind energy is further developed, but will have to fill gaps such as the need to address wave and wind loadings encountered in hurricanes. The report also includes findings and recommendations about the role that certified verification agents (third party evaluators) can play in reviewing packages of standards and project-specific proposals.

National Research Council
The surface transportation system is vital to our nation's economy, defense, and quality of life. Because threats against the system have hitherto been perceived as minor, little attention has been paid to its security. But the world is changing, as highlighted by dramatic incidents such as the terrorist chemical attack on the Tokyo subway in 1995. As a consequence, security concerns are now attracting more attention--appropriately so, for the threat is real, and responding to it is hard. Although the surface transportation system is remarkably resilient, it is also open and decentralized, making a security response challenging. Research and development can contribute to that response in important ways.

Some important themes emerge from analysis of this strategy. First, a dual-use approach, in which security objectives are furthered at the same time as other transportation goals, can encourage the implementation of security technologies and processes. Second, modeling could be used more to develop a better understanding of the scope of the security problem. Third, DOT can play an important role in developing and disseminating information about best practices that use existing technologies and processes, including low-technology alternatives. Finally, security should be considered as part of a broader picture, not a wholly new and different problem but one that is similar and closely connected to the transportation community's previous experience in responding to accidents, natural disasters, and hazardous materials.

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