Senator calls for audit of FMCSA’s investigations

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin has asked the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Inspector General to audit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s investigative practices.

The Illinois Democrat said his request was prompted by Chicago Tribune reports of a Jan. 27 truck crash that left a tollway worker dead and a state trooper seriously injured. The two were assisting a driver of broken down truck on Interstate 88 in Aurora when a DND International truck hit them.

Last August, FMCSA ordered an investigation of DND, but did not begin it until after the accident. The Illinois motor carrier had “a long history of violating safety rules,” according to Durbin, who also is Senate majority whip.

His April 9 letter asks Inspector General Calvin L. Scovel III to review FMCSA’s practices “to ensure motor carriers flagged for investigation are being investigated in a timely manner.”  Scovel should determine if investigations are adequate to catch violations, he wrote.

Durbin noted last November, the National Transportation Safety Board concluded the FMCSA relied too much on focused compliance reviews. The NTSB had recommended the agency audit the effectiveness of focused CR and take action to resolve any safety issues raised by the audit.

According an April 9 Tribune story, FMCSA conducted a brief enforcement action against the DND in 2011. Under the Freedom of Information Act, the newspaper obtained agency records indicating the agency “ultimately closed the matter without forcing the carrier to resolve numerous safety deficiencies,” the newspaper reported.

The DND driver involved in the crash, Renato V. Velasquez, was ordered in February by FMCSA to shut down after it was found he had been on duty for nearly 30 hours straight. He has been charged with multiple felonies.