Safety Inspections of Commercial Vehicles May Be Lacking

While thousands of trucking and other commercial vehicle accidents occur in Missouri each year, a recent fatal bus crash in Texas has put a spotlight on proper inspections of all commercial vehicles throughout the United States.

The accident in North Texas killed 17 bus passengers. The Texas firm that conducted thevehicle’s most recent inspection now faces scrutiny and brings into question the need for federal oversight into all state commercial vehicle inspections.

Per federal regulations, commercial vehicles are required to undergo inspections on an annual basis. A commercial vehicle is defined by a number characteristics or uses, including if it’s:

• Designed or used to transport more than 8 passengers (including the driver) for compensation

• Designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers (including the driver) and is not used to transport passengers for compensation

• Used to transport a type or quantity of hazardous materials required to be placarded, regardless of the weight of the vehicle

However, there is no federal mandate as to who should do the inspections: state agencies, private companies, and even the owners of the vehicles are all permissible. It’s up to the individual states to determine their own rules.

Many Sates Lack Commercial Vehicle Inspection Standards

According to the Associated Press, more than half of the states in this country lack a fixed set of inspection standards, allowing the inspectors – including the vehicles owners – to set their own requirements for passing inspection.

Calls for more federal oversight in the inspection of commercial vehicles are growing. The National Transportation Safety Board, an independent federal agency charged by Congress with investigating transportation accidents and making recommendations to prevent similar accidents from occurring, are among those seeking more federal involvement. But the agency that would be responsible for such inspections, the Federal Carrier Safety Administration, so far has not taken up the issue.

In March, the U.S. Senate passed legislation that included a provision to require federal oversight of state commercial vehicle inspections. That legislation has not passed the U.S. House of Representatives.