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FMCSA seeks better way to enforce trucking safety laws

There is little debate about the fact that trucking is essential to maintaining the American way of life. We rely on trucks to transport nearly everything we eat and most of the consumer products we buy.

Unfortunately, we pay a steep price for our reliance on trucks. For much of the last century, truck accidents have largely been dismissed as simply the cost of doing business. Some 4,000 people per year are killed in truck accidents on U.S. roads. Most of these accidents could be prevented if federal regulators were better able to monitor how trucking companies operate and quickly take safety violators out of service.

Earlier this month, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration released a proposal for new rules that would help the agency achieve the aforementioned goals. Under the proposed rules, the FMCSA would be able to quickly take entire trucking companies out of service based on the results of random highway inspections. If any company had a rate of violations deemed unacceptable, the FMCSA would be able to take entire fleets out of service until problems were adequately resolved.

As it stands, the FMCSA can order carriers out of service for failure to maintain vehicles and for other safety violations. But the process for doing so is time-consuming and bureaucratic. This means that the agency can investigate just a fraction of the 550,000 trucking companies operating at any given time. If the new rules were enacted, the FMCSA could go from investigating 15,000 companies per year to 75,000 companies per month.

Unfortunately, the process for proposed rulemaking also tends to be cumbersome and time-consuming. As such, we may not see big changes anytime soon. Hopefully, however, these changes will eventually be enacted and American roads will see a steep drop in the rate of preventable truck accidents.