Tighter reins on new carriers?

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Less than two months after new regulations went into effect concerning the fitness of new carriers, the National Transportation Safety Board suggested that tougher regulations are needed. In a report adopted Feb. 26, the board recommended that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration require new carriers to demonstrate their safety fitness prior to beginning operations. FMCSA’s new regulations, which took effect Jan. 1, require that new entrants face a fitness review within 18 months of beginning operations.

The safety board recommended that the fitness test for new entrants include, at a minimum:

  • Passing an examination demonstrating their knowledge of the federal safety regulations;
  • Submitting a comprehensive plan documenting that the motor carrier has management systems in place to ensure compliance; and
  • Passing an FMCSA safety audit, including vehicle inspections.

NTSB also recommended that FMCSA revise the Safety Status Measurement System, or SafeStat, to base scores on the driver and vehicle safety evaluation areas for new motor carriers. New motor carriers with high scores in either of these areas could be identified and will receive an immediate compliance review. New carriers warrant a different treatment under SafeStat, NTSB concluded, because the usual composite score is based in part on areas in which the carrier may not be rated.

By conducting safety audits up to 18 months after carriers begin operations, FMCSA “potentially allows unsafe carriers to operate without oversight and without the benefit of the educational and technical assistance” FMCSA provides during the safety audit, NTSB said.

The findings and recommendations are included in NTSB’s report on a June 2002 collision that occurred near Loraine, Texas, between a Greyhound bus and a truck operated by DelCar Trucking. For more information on the Greyhound/DelCar Trucking accident as well as other NTSB highway accident reports, visit this site.