A plan released last week by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will make it easier
to identify potentially unsafe trucking companies and order them off the
road. According to the stipulations of the plan, trucking companies can
be declared unfit based on highway truck inspections rather than having
to go though a longer and more complicated audit process of the company’s
Currently, an auditor has the power to shut down a trucking company if
it has an unacceptably high rate of violations. In fact, just last month,
a Vermont truck company became one of the largest carriers ordered off
the road for failing to properly test its drivers for alcohol and drug
use, among other violations. Some of the most common violations, which
lead to numerous accidents, include failing to make necessary vehicle
repairs or exceeding permitted driving hours.
Because these audits can be time consuming and only a small percentage
of trucking companies could be audited by regulators during the course
of a year, the new rule would allow truck stop inspections to be carried
out on the road, making it easier to flag carriers that should be targeted
for audits. The FMCSA will thus be able to assess 75,000 carriers a month
rather than only 15,000 a year.
While this method is certainly more efficient, critics are concerned that
the data collected at roadside audits is not an accurate representation
of whether a trucking company has a high risk of crashes. The FMCSA, however,
has defended the change in methodology in a recent statement, saying that
carriers identified through on-road safety data have crash rates of nearly
four times the national average.
The Transportation Department has estimated that this streamlined system
could take fewer than 300 trucking companies off the road each year.
For more on the types of violations that contribute to truck accidents, please
visit our website.