Federal Trucking Agency Launches Program To Hold Carriers Responsible For Safety Violations

Last month, this blog discussed the newly-passed Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration hours-of-service (“HOS”) safety requirements for commercial truck drivers, limiting the number of hours a truck driver is permitted to operate his or her vehicle during any given period of time. Since then, our Miami truck accident lawyers have been keeping an eye out for new developments related to this issue.

Last year, the FMCSA, launched the Compliance, Safety, Accountability Program (“Program”) which scores the safety of trucking carriers and is designed to increase accountability for carriers that continually violate safety regulations. Carriers that receive poor safety scores under the Program often suffer negative consequences such as loss of business from customers that don’t want to work with a carrier that has a poor safety record, greater insurance rates, and additional scrutiny from law enforcement and inspectors.

Although the Program appears, on its face, to be a step in the right direction towards increasing trucking safety standards, recent reports by not one, but two, government agencies have concluded that the Program may suffer from some problems affecting its accuracy. Both the Department of Transportation’s Office of the Inspector General (“OIG”) and the Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) have issued results of their audits of the Program, concluding that it suffers from several problems stemming from poor data quality.

The GAO study found that the scores received by some carriers didn’t accurately reflect potential danger, reducing the Program’s chances of identifying carriers that pose the most risk. Because of the data problems, a small carrier with no accidents could receive a lower score than another larger carrier with numerous collisions. The study further concluded that:

Data used to score each carrier was unreliable because enforcement and inspection authorities operated differently in each state.

A portion of the data was self-reported and could be misleading or inaccurate.

A portion of the scored violations didn’t occur often enough to associate them with an increased risk of crashing (almost 600 out of 750 rules studied were violated by less than 1 percent of all carriers).

The OIG report, entitled, “Actions Are Needed to Strengthen FMCSA’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability Program”, found that, although the FMCSA has improved the quality of its data, a number of planned improvements to the Program designed to improve the accuracy of its data had yet to be implemented. The report also concluded that only ten percent of states had fully executed the enforcement the Program.

Due to the immense weight and considerable size commercial trucks, proper operation of these vehicles is of particular importance. Negligence behind the wheel of such a vehicle can easily result in catastrophe and severe injuries or death.

The Miami personal injury attorneys at Gerson & Schwartz, P.A. have extensive experience representing individuals who have been injured by the negligence of truck drivers and trucking companies. If you or someone you know has been injured in automobile accident, contact a Miami trucking accident attorney at Gerson & Schwartz, P.A. today.

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