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FMCSA proposes new rule to increase volume and weight of truck inspections

On a daily basis, there are thousands of commercial trucks traveling the highways and streets in and around New York City. While the vast majority of licensed commercial truck drivers are responsible and experienced, there are some drivers and employers within the trucking industry who, when it comes to safety, routinely cut corners.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is the federal agency tasked with regulating and enforcing the commercial trucking industry. FMCSA previously established numerous regulatory policies aimed to improve safety within the trucking industry including those related to driver drug and alcohol testing, weight and size restrictions, driver log requirements, regular inspection and maintenance and hours of service rules.

Previously the results of any road-side or truck-stop inspections "were used only to flag carriers that should be targeted for audits." However, a newly proposed FMCSA rule would give much more weight to these inspections and allow officials to declare trucking employers unfit and effectively close down their operations.

Under the FMCSA's current auditing system, an audit investigation may be triggered by a failed road-side or truck-stop inspection. A full audit, however, can take several days to complete and officials are only able to audit some 15,000 trucking operations each year or roughly three percent of the total number of commercial trucking companies. Under the newly proposed rule, FMCSA officials believe they would be able to conduct 75,000 inspections each month.

Each year, commercial truck accidents result in the injuries and deaths of thousands of people throughout the U.S. In many cases, these accidents are caused or made worse by truck drivers who are distracted and fatigued and mechanical and equipment failures. Proponents of the recently proposed FMCSA rule are hopeful that its passage will help prevent accidents, injuries and deaths.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "Federal Regulators to Toughen Truck Safety Rules," Loretta Chao, Jan. 15, 2016

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