DOT initiates audit of FMCSA’s investigative practices

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Updated May 11, 2015

The DOT’s Office of Inspector General has initiated an audit of FMCSA’s processes for ensuring that reviews of motor carriers flagged for investigation are timely and adequate.

The audit comes two years after the National Transportation Safety Board called for an audit of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration following an NTSB report that found FMCSA failed to act upon red flags on carriers or drivers subsequently involved in four deadly crashes.

Those red flags were either not notice or not acted upon by FMCSA, NTSB said in its 2013 report.

“Our investigators found, that in many cases, the poor performing company was on FMCSA’s radar for violations, but was allowed to continue operating and was not scrutinized closely until they had deadly crashes,” said then-NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman in 2013.

FMCSA in a 2013 statement said it increases each year the number of carriers it shuts down for unsafe practices, saying in 2012 it shut down 47 carriers, compared to just 10 in 2011.

In 2014, a motor carrier known to FMCSA as high-risk was involved in a fatal crash in Illinois. Despite the carrier’s risk status, FMSCA did not conduct an investigation.

Following this crash, Sen. Dick Durbin requested the DOT audit FMCSA’s investigative practices for high-risk motor carriers. The 2015 appropriations legislation also directed the DOT to review FMCSA’s compliance review process.

The OIG says “high profile crashes and investigations have raised concerns about the timeliness and effectiveness of FMCSA’s reviews” of motor carriers that pose a greater crash risk.

The DOT OIG said it plans to begin the audit process immediately.