Audit: FMCSA should crack down on repeat offenders

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has made progress in its oversight of carrier safety but needs to be more harsh on carriers with repeat safety violations, an audit has concluded. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General issued the audit April 21 of the agency’s implementation of the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999. FMCSA imposed the maximum fine on only 33 of 533 repeat violators, according to the audit.

In an April 5 meeting with OIG, FMCSA agreed to make sure repeat violators don’t escape maximum fines, and that it would strengthen its policy by May 2007 to make sure the most serious violations are counted correctly when assessing fines. However, FMCSA said it would maintain discretion on which violations it documented.

The audit found that FMCSA and states have improved the quality of safety performance data. For example, the percentage of carriers that did not report census data on drivers and trucks was cut from 42 to 27 percent in a two-year period ending in 2005. FMCSA disagreed with auditors’ recommendation that carriers be fined for not filing the data that SafeStat uses to rank safety performance; the agency said fines would not be cost-effective, but that it would take other measures to encourage compliance.

FMCSA agreed with a number of the audit’s recommendations, including:

  • Rapid implementation of the Crash Data Improvement Project and establishing milestones for improving states’ compliance with standardizing crash reports;
  • Continued monitoring of state safety audits to ensure timely completion;
  • Continued efforts to identify needed safety enforcement changes in the new entrant program; and
  • Expeditiously completing the rules for a driver medical certificate.