FMCSA Cracking Down on Carriers Who Repeatedly Break Rules
WASHINGTON, DC — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration newest enforcement tool contains tougher penalties against carriers that repeatedly ignore safety rules.
Under the Patterns of Safety Violations Rule, the agency will be able to suspend or revoke the authority of willful repeat violators, and impose civil or criminal penalties.
The rule also says the agency can target carriers that give employees who are egregious violators control over their operations.
The rule is one of the new enforcement tools that the agency has developed in recent years to target high-risk carriers that endanger travelers by avoiding or covering up their negative history of safety compliance.
And it goes after the practice of “reincarnation” to avoid enforcement: carriers that operate multiple businesses to conceal safety violations can be shut down.
The agency has been working on these reforms for years and in 2012, highway bill MAP-21, gave FMCS authority to proceed with the rule.
“Congress directed the Agency to implement this rule because it recognized the danger that carriers seeking to evade compliance with FMCSA’s regulation pose to the motoring public,” the agency says.
Revocation is a “significant penalty,” the agency acknowledged, adding that relatively few carriers commit these violations.
“This rule is necessary and appropriate, however, to address motor carriers that engage in a pattern or practice of willfully violating safety regulations or forming new entities or affiliate relationships to avoid compliance or mask or otherwise conceal noncompliance.”
Under the rule’s procedures, if the agency finds that a carrier has not complied or has concealed its non-compliance, it will investigate the situation to determine if there’s a pattern.
The determination will be based on a number of factors, including the frequency of the violations and how recently they occurred.
The agency also will look at the safety risk created by the violations, whether the carrier or person knew or should have known the violations broke the rules, and whether the carrier or person was intending to hide the violation.
The rule includes provisions for administrative review of the agency’s findings.
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