The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced this month that it would be awarding $80 million in grants in an effort to boost overall commercial motor vehicle safety. These funds will be allocated to various states and educational institutions, and are part of the highest funding level yet for these particular safety grants.
“These awards of nearly $80 million represent the highest funding level for these critical safety grants to enhance commercial motor vehicle and road safety,” said Elaine L. Chao, U.S. Transportation Secretary.
Of these grants, FMCSA announced that $45 million would be deemed High Priority grants, which would be applied to states’ safety efforts and safety technology and program system advancements for their commercial motor vehicles. The FMCSA said its High Priority grant program is made up of HP-Commercial Motor Vehicle grants, which are meant to bring financial aid to state CMV safety initiatives, and HP-innovative Technology Deployment grants, which offer financial aid in the advancement of tech implementation and work to further intelligent transportation system deployment for CMV operations.
These will be sent to areas prioritizing assistance to commercial vehicle and driver safety initiatives, including the California Highway Patrol, the Arizona Department of Transportation, the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, the Puerto Rico Public Service Commission, the Kentucky State Police, and the University of Alabama.
$32.7 million would be allocated to Commercial Driver’s License Program Implementation grants, which will be meant to boost state efforts in bringing improvements to the national commercial driver’s license program. This grant program gives financial assistance to states fully complying with FMCSA’s driver’s license standards and programs regulations, and works to help groups focusing on national efforts that help states’ compliance efforts, which FMCSA said will improve the overall national CDL program.
Those receiving these grants for their projects boosting compliance efforts include the Washington State Department of Licensing, the University of Cincinnati, the Georgia Department of Driver Services, the Florida Department of Highway Safety, the Delaware Department of Transportation, and the Vermont Agency of Transportation-Department of Motor Vehicles.
A remaining $2 million will be for Commercial Motor Vehicle Operator Safety Training grants, which will be allocated to efforts in working to train veterans for commercial bus and trucking jobs through 20 different educational institutions.
These particular grants focus on private and accredited public colleges, universities, post-secondary educational institutions, truck driver training programs, vocational-technical institutions, and state and local government agencies, such as Maryland’s Wor-Wic Community College, Tennessee’s Truck Driver Institute Inc., Florida’s Truck Driver Institute Inc., Pennsylvania’s Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics and York County School of Technology, and Virginia’s Tidewater Community College.
“This critical funding will support FMCSA’s state and local safety partners, and illustrates the Trump Administration’s commitment to reducing crashes and improving safety on America’s roadways,” said Jim Mullen, FMCSA Deputy Administrator. “These funds will go directly to where they are needed the most–our states, local communities, and education institutions.”
These grants are available to agencies around the United States and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The agency said funding recipients from both state and local governments will “work in conjunction with for-profit and nonprofit organizations, including public and private institutions of higher education, businesses, and independent contractor consultants.”
FMCSA received $881 million this year for its operations through the U.S. House’s approval of a fiscal 2021 transportation funding bill, which allocated $202 million more than 2020’s funding level, and $179 million more than what was requested by the president.
This bill “represents a forward-looking vision to rebuild our nation and strengthen our communities,” said Nita Lowey, US. House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman.
The House legislation’s accompanying report explained that safety grants such as these “are used to support compliance reviews in the states, identify and apprehend traffic violators, conduct roadside inspections, and conduct safety audits of new entrant carriers.”
Grant funds are also given to certain states for oversight efforts regarding their commercial driver’s license programs.
“Together, we can revitalize our infrastructure, modernize our transportation systems, protect the traveling public, expand access to safe, affordable housing, and support our most vulnerable neighbors,” said Lowey.