Would a national database that tracked “patterns of safety violations” among trucking company officials, supervisors, and other major influencers make a difference?
A Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration advisory committee thinks so. It has recommended the FMCSA set up such a database not only to identify and remove trucking company officials linked to safety problems and bad practices, but also to prevent such people from simply restarting their companies under new names or from moving to other firms. Screening would include owners, directors, CEOs, CFOs, safety directors, maintenance supervisors, driver supervisors, and anyone, regardless of title, “exercising controlling influence over the operations of a motor carrier.”
Put a Stake in Them
FMCSA is already focusing on efforts to pinpoint carriers that have shut down operations and reopened with new names to spackle over safety violations. One such corporate “reincarnation” was revealed after a recent quadruple-fatality bus crash in Virginia. As a result, the Department of Transportation has proposed establishing a federal standard to better identify such firms.
The time is ripe for greater vigilance. In 2009, a GAO study found more than 1,000 truck and bus companies had been reincarnated with new names after having being closed for safety violations ranging from suspended licenses to possible drug use.
Launch Safety Audit
The same FMCSA committee also recommended that the body perform an initial audit of new carriers within half a year of granting operating authority, rather than the present 18 months. Some argued that audits should happen before carriers are given operating authority, but that idea succumbed to concerns about inadequate FMCSA and state inspection resources.
I will keep you posted on these proposals as they develop.
I am always available for consultations on all trucking litigation matters. Think you may have a case? Please contact me at [email protected] or call me at 1-800-628-4500.