There are a wide variety of laws and regulations governing commercial transportation in the United States. Many of these regulations are enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Safety rules regulated by the FMCSA are intended to ensure that commercial vehicles are well-maintained; that commercial drivers are held to a higher safety standard; and that best practices are used in the operation of commercial motor vehicles.
Unfortunately, safety regulations and laws work only if they are obeyed and some motor carriers simply refuse to comply. Some companies disregard the regulations, skirt the safety requirements and otherwise engage in unsafe operating practices. Many of these commercial transport companies will simply close up their operations when they’ve been put out of service due to violations and will open up under a new name.
When a motor carrier repeatedly refuses to comply with safety rules, this can present very significant dangers to passengers of the motor coaches or to other drivers on the road. As such, our truck accident lawyers in Tuscaloosa applaud new efforts by FMCSA in taking swift action against certain violators.
FMCSA’s Proposed New Regulation
To attempt to stop motor carriers from continuing to operate if they commit serious safety violations, FMCSA is proposing amendments to its regulations. The new amendments would allow the agency to suspend or revoke the operating authority registration of motor carriers that exhibit an “egregious disregard” for compliance with safety rules.
The proposed amendment also seeks authority to suspend or revoke the operating registration of any company that employs people who show egregious disregard for safety rules. This would mean a motor carrier whose employees exhibit egregious disregard for safety could have their operating authority registration suspended or revoked.
Finally, the regulations would allow FMCSA to take action against carriers that operate under multiple names and/or that routinely shut down and open new entities after being placed out of service for breaching safety regulations.
The Need for Change
Failure on the part of motor carriers to obey safety regulations has very real consequences. In fact, a devastating accident that occurred in August of 2008 is cited by FMCSA when explaining the background behind why they want to implement enhanced regulations.
The fatal crash in 2008 occurred in Texas and killed 17 motor coach passengers. The crash also caused injury to the driver of the coach and 39 other passengers. The motor carrier was operating without authority and was actually a “reincarnation” of another carrier that had recently been placed out of service for safety breaches.
In response to the accident, FMCSA instituted a vetting process intended to review registration applications to identify companies that are simply new versions of old carriers that don’t comply with safety rules. However, no sanctions are imposed under this current rule so there is no disincentive for companies or individuals who re-apply for registration after being put out-of-service.
FMCSA needs the authority to take strong action to permanently stop motor carriers who behave in an egregious manner that disregards the safety of passengers or other drivers on the road. Unless FMCSA has the power to enforce its safety rules and to make companies respect the consequences of non-compliance, people will continue to be in danger from dishonest or unscrupulous transportation providers.
Patterns of Safety Violations by Motor Carrier Management, FMCSA, October 31, 2012.
Birmingham Trucking Accident Attorneys Look at Top Causes of Tractor-Trailer Crashes, Cross & Smith LLC, Nov 8, 2012.