Incentives for safety investment

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It is about encouraging investment in safety through the purchase and installation of technologies on trucks and buses that have been tested and proven to work." –Stephen F. Campbell, executive director, Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance

It’s quite ironic that I’m again writing about yet another Congressional legislative attempt to provide tax credits to trucking fleets for investing in safety systems.

Despite the ongoing ballyhoo over improving truck safety, reducing truck-car crashes and fatalities, despite all the rhetoric and diatribes, it’s proved impossible to actually get legislation passed that would directly address the truck safety issue head on.

The reintroduction of the Commercial Motor Vehicle Advanced Safety Technology Tax Act of 2009 (H.R. 2024) amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide a credit against income tax to help accelerate the adoption of advanced safety systems not just for commercial vehicles, but for school and transit buses.

The systems covered in this bill – reintroduced by Representatives Mike Thompson (D-CA) and Geoff Davis (R-KY), backed by the 10 original sponsors of this legislation last year – include brake stroke monitoring systems, vehicle stability systems, lane departure warning systems, plus collision warning systems.

The legislation encompasses both the original equipment (OE) and aftermarket installation of these safety systems and also:

• Creates a tax credit for fleet owners valued at 50 percent of the retail cost of the system with a maximum of $1,500 per technology;

• Allows fleets to purchase multiple technologies, but limit the total amount of credit permissible to $3,500 per vehicle; and,

• Allows the overall tax credit for each truck owner or trucking company of up to $350,000 per year for all covered technology purchases.

“It is about encouraging investment in safety through the purchase and installation of technologies on trucks and buses that have been tested and proven to work,” says Stephen F. Campbell, executive director of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), which has actively supported this tax credit effort. "It will reduce the deaths occurring from the most prevalent truck and bus crash types on our highways, which have been hovering around 5,000 per year for the last decade.”

This effort is really a no brainer – and its received support from both the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in the past, with NTSB Chairman Mark Rosenker specifically pointing out in testimony before Congress last eyar that the quickest way to promote widespread use of motor vehicle safety technologies was through this tax incentive approach.

Will it work this time? That’s the big unanswerable, isn’t it? But it would be a shame to see such an effort fall by the wayside again – an effort that could dramatically change the safety picture for commercial vehicles and buses alike on our highways in a very short amount of time.

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Trucks at Work: Sean Kilcarr comments on trends affecting the many different strata of the trucking industry.

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