Yesterday the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published its final rule in the Code of Federal Regulations / Federal Register which will allow the federal agency to swoop down and close trucking companies and bus companies in the United States which have shown a pattern of “egregious disregard” of federal safety rules as well as those companies who are being run buy individuals with a history of “egregious” noncompliance.
This is being done pursuant to the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), as amended by section 32112 of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), for the purpose of protecting highways in this country from commercial vehicle operations that have a pattern of operating outside the federal safety requirements.
FMCSA Rule to Close Trucking Companies and Bus Lines
Next week, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will publish a Patterns of Safety Violations Rule which implements the agency’s authority to shut down a bus or truck company if the company, or a company officer, has a history of purposely violating federal safety regulations. 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. FMCSA intends to apply the rule in egregious cases in which it finds that a motor carrier has committed a pattern of unsafe practices, even if that particular investigation alone does not result in a downgrade of the carrier’s safety fitness rating.
The new rule complements a rule adopted by the agency in 2012 to apply out-of-service orders to reincarnated or chameleon carriers and to consolidate their enforcement histories. Today’s rule goes one step further by authorizing a complete revocation of the motor carrier’s authority to operate.
What Does This Mean?
As of right now, the FMCSA has the power to suspend or revoke the operating authority of interstate commercial trucking companies as well as bus lines that operate in more than one state if the agency determines that the company or one of its principal officers has a pattern of noncompliance with the federal agency’s safety rules.
The new regulation is tied to legislation passed as highway funding from the federal government (e.g., MAP-21) and it is an attempt by FMCSA not only to stop dangerous trucking companies and bus lines operating in the country, but to fight against risky companies that re-vamp themselves to get around federal regulations (”chameleons”).
For most trucking companies in Indiana, Illinois, and neighboring states, this new rule should not make a big change in their work. FMCSA is predicting that the new rule that became law this week is only going to a small amount of carriers each year. For everyone driving on freeways in our area alongside big rig semi tractor trailer trucks or taking a bus for a trip to Vegas or elsewhere, the danger of a crash with a commercial truck or bus that is being operated outside of federal safety standards should be less now. That’s the idea, at any rate.