Are federal truck safety regulations being enforced?

A truck accident may reveal negligence on more than just the part of the individual truck driver. Trucking companies are also bound by federal regulations. However, some commentators have questioned whether the U.S. Department of Transportation is adequately enforcing those rules.

According to a recent article, a new proposal might streamline enforcement efforts and result in safer roads and highways. The plan, announced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, would provide for highway inspections instead of the traditional audit of a trucking company. 

As background, the FMCSA is a federal agency within the auspices of the Transportation Department. It is tasked with the administration and enforcement of safety regulations. For example, the FMCSA could shut down a trucking company if an audit revealed an unacceptable number of violations. Such regulatory violations might be failing to make required maintenance repairs or allowing employees to exceed their maximum hours behind the wheel.

Will the new approach help reduce the number of truck accidents? At a minimum, it will allow FMCSA investigators to screen more trucks. The current audit process reaches only about 15,000 of the 550,000 trucking companies in America, or less than three percent. If FMCSA investigators were allowed to rate those companies based on their roadside inspections, an estimated 75,000 carriers could be assessed every month.

As a law firm that focuses on truck accidents, we have seen the serious injuries that can result when an 18-wheeler or other large truck crashes into other motor vehicles. Hopefully, FMCSA's proposal will function as an additional proactive safety measure. In addition, the roadside inspections might serve as an additional investigative tool in civil negligence lawsuits brought on behalf of truck accident victims.

Source: Wall Street Journal, “Federal Regulators to Toughen Truck Safety Rules,” Loretta Chao, Jan. 15, 2016

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