The federal agency charged with overseeing the trucking industry is trying a new way to monitor the safety of new trucking companies. Will it work to keep unsafe truckers off the road?
In July 2013, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) began a revised program for checking the safety operations of start-up trucking companies. These companies are called “new entrants.” After a new entrant begins operations, it is subject to the FMCSA’s safety monitoring procedures for up to 18 months.
This is not new. What is new is the FMCSA’s decision to accept the records the new entrants submit rather than relying on on-site inspections.
The program was supposed to run one year and include new trucking companies in Illinois and a few other states as a test. The FMCSA recently extended the trial run through the end of 2014. After the trial ends, the agency will compare results of its safety monitoring using on-site visits versus this new practice of relying on company provided documents.
Unsafe Trucking Company Practices
Under either safety monitoring method, new trucking companies fail if any one of 16 dangerous practices is found. These include:
- Failure to implement a drug or alcohol screening program
- Employing a truck driver who refused to take an alcohol or drug use test
- Employing a truck driver who is known to fail a drug test
- Employing a truck driver who it knows does not own a valid commercial driver’s license
- Putting a truck back in operation without making necessary repairs following an “out of service” violation
How successful this new program is at preventing catastrophic truck accidents remains to be seen. But accepting a company’s records rather than conducting on-site inspections seems suspect.
As indicated by what the federal government screens for in its safety audits, there are many causes of serious truck crashes. The surviving families of those killed in truck accidents may want to turn to an attorney to investigate and hold unsafe truck drivers and trucking companies responsible for their negligent actions.