New Rule Targets ‘Patterns’ of Safety Violations

Bad actors beware.  The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued a new final rule that will empower the agency to go after existing companies and drivers that have a “pattern” of safety violations.

The final rule enables FMCSA to suspend or revoke the operating authority registration of motor carriers that show “egregious disregard for safety compliance” or attempt to conceal noncompliance.

The rule became effective Feb. 21.  Data from compliance reviews, safety audits, roadside inspections and other investigations would be considered in determining whether an actor or company poses a safety risk.

If you’re in the carrier business, safety should be everyone’s responsibility.  Everyone- from top to bottom.

The regulation would apply to all motor carriers, even owner-operators who are leased to and running under another company’s authority – if they are in direct control of their own safety compliance.

The rule would put the onus on motor carriers to hire quality people in positions of control over safety operations – despite objections from large carriers during the rulemaking process.

The Agency finds it difficult to believe that any responsible motor carrier would engage someone to exert controlling influence over its operations without engaging in a level of due diligence sufficient to understand the person’s qualifications and prior work experience in the industry.

The agency also noted that complaints that whistleblowers levy could be enough to trigger enforcement under the new final rule.

The initial rulemaking stems from an Aug. 8, 2008 fatal bus crash in Sherman, Texas, in which investigators found the motor carrier was a reincarnated carrier already placed out of service.