The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is proposing amendments to its regulations that would enable it to suspend or revoke the operating authority registration of motor carriers (bus and trucking companies) that have done one or more of the following:
- Shown egregious disregard for safety compliance;
- Permit persons who have shown egregious disregard for safety compliance to act on their behalf; or
- Operate multiple entities under common control to conceal noncompliance with safety regulations.0.
The penalty for any of the above would be suspension or revocation of their operating authority registration, meaning they could no longer transport goods in interstate commerce. These amendments would implement section 4113 of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act.
According to FMCSA, each year a small number of motor carriers have attempted to avoid regulatory compliance or mask or otherwise conceal noncompliance by submitting new applications for registration, often under a different name, to continue operations after being placed out of service. Motor carriers and individuals do this for a variety of reasons, including the following:
- To avoid payment of civil penalties;
- To circumvent denial of operating authority registration based on a determination that they are not willing or able to comply with the applicable statutes or regulations; and
- To avoid a negative compliance history.
Other motor carriers attempt to avoid compliance, or mask or otherwise conceal noncompliance, by creating or using an affiliated company under common operational control. They shift customers, vehicles, drivers, and other operational activities to one of the affiliated companies when FMCSA places one of the other commonly controlled companies out of service.
FMCSA has already instituted a vetting process for for-hire passenger and household goods carriers that involves a comprehensive review of registration applications to determine whether the applicants are reincarnations or affiliates of other motor carriers with negative compliance histories or are otherwise not willing and able to comply with the applicable regulations. This vetting process it is not a complete solution to the problem of regulatory avoidance because it does not impose sanctions.
It is time for FMCSA to have the authority to deal with companies and individuals who disregard public safety. The proposed amendments should be enacted.
Attorney Eric Hageman represents clients with serious injuries, including amputation, brain injury, burns and spinal injury. He is a member of the American Association for Justice (AAJ) Interstate Trucking Litigation Group and the Association of Plaintiff Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America (APITLA). He represents semi truck accident victims and their families in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits. Eric can be reached for a free consultation here or at 1-888-377-8900 (toll free).
With bus and truck accident cases, there is often a choice of states in which to file a lawsuit against the trucking company. This is a critical decision that may affect the amount of money you get.