New DOT Secretary President Clinton has nominated Federal Highway Administrator Rodney Slater as the next Secretary of Transportation, replacing Federico Pena. Slater's nomination must be approved by the Senate.

Testing relief Because of the low rate of truck drivers using drugs and alcohol, ITCC is asking the federal government to reduce the random drug- and alcohol-testing rates for carriers that show combined positive rates of less than 0.5% for alcohol and less than 1.0% for drugs over a two-year period. Under current law, carriers must randomly test at least 25% of its drivers for alcohol and 50% for the presence of five controlled substances annually. DOT is authorized to lower those rates to 10% and 25%, respectively, if industry positive rates are less than 0.5% for alcohol and 1.0% for drugs for two consecutive years.

Training wheels A public hearing hosted by DOT yielded a lot of discussion, but little consensus, as to whether the feds should require mandatory training for entry-level drivers. The session followed a report issued earlier this year that blasted trucking's training regimen.

Truck taxes Rep. Mac Collins (R-Ga.), a former trucking executive, has been named to head a congressional panel charged with producing a comprehensive study of all types of transportation taxes. The study may help resolve long-running disputes among competitive modes over tax parity.

Highway shortfall A recent GAO report says that spending on highways and bridges totaled about $40 billion in 1993, the last year for which data is available. However, the DOT says an additional $16 billion is necessary merely to maintain, not improve, the nation's highways.