Truck Safety Program Questioned by Government Accountability Office

5
Mar 2014
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Truck accident injuries and deaths have increased in recent years. In 2012, statistics showed four percent more fatalities and 18 percent more injuries occurred in truck crashes than in 2011.  This increase occurred despite the fact that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is in the midst of a multi-year effort to remove unsafe truckers from the road.

CSA-2010 was launched by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to replace an earlier program called SafeStat.  CSA didn’t include any new laws, but instead was a reporting initiative. It was designed to reduce crashes by measuring motor carrier safety performance. The FMCSA is able to use the data to decide where to focus its limited investigatory resources. Unfortunately, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a 111-page report pointing out many flaws in the CSA-2010 system.

As the GAO and the FMCSA work through disagreements about safety measures, real people are losing their lives in truck accidents every day. Victims of collisions can hold truck drivers and trucking companies responsible with the help of a truck accident lawyer in San Antonio.  The Herrera Law Firm is here to help.

Is the FMCSA’s Data Collection System Effective?

The  goal with CAS-2010 was to gather performance data about different trucking companies from accident investigations and from roadside inspections.  The data would be used to grade each of the motor carriers based on the company’s rate of violation.  The different companies would be compared in seven different categories.   The FMCSA would then be able to concentrate its enforcement resources on high-risk carriers.

The GAO, however, identified a few serious problems. For example:

  • The violations that the FMCSA is looking at are not necessarily the ones likely to lead to accidents. Trucking companies can violate all sorts of safety rules, but only certain ones increase the chances of truck accidents. The GAO believes that the focus should be on identifying the violations that have a direct correlation to collisions.
  • There is not sufficient data to actually compare different carriers reliably.  Around 95 percent of trucking companies in the U.S. operate less than 20 vehicles. The FMCSA cannot possibly inspect enough vehicles from each trucking company to create a reliable comparison.

These are major problems, because if the system is flawed, the FMCSA may be focusing its efforts and investigations on the wrong trucking companies. If the FMCSA doesn’t work effectively to stop dangerous trucking companies from operations, these companies can continue to keep their fleets on the road and put others at risk.

The GAO has urged the FMCSA to revise the methods it uses in order to better reflect limits it has in gathering data. It is unclear whether this advice will be taken, as some reports indicate that the FMCSA has pushed back and defended its program.

The increase in crashes, however, suggests that current regulations just aren’t working as well as they should. Government regulators and trucking companies both need to consider how to improve safety efforts to try to bring the accident rate back down.

A truck accident lawyer in San Antonio can help collision victims. Call the Herrera Law Firm at 1-800-455-1054 or visit www.herreralaw.com to schedule a free consultation.

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