The FMCSA’s Enforcement of Truck Safety Measures

New Mexico, Usa - September 30: Big Semi Trailer Truck Driving P

Ever since it was first established as a Department of Transportation agency in 2000, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA’s) primary mission has been “to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries.” This broad mandate covers many specific duties, as spelled out in the federal government’s safety regulations.

Recent statistics clearly reveal America’s ongoing need for the FMCSA to keep improving road safety regarding eighteen wheel trucks. For example, between 2013 to 2014, the number of “large trucks involved in injury crashes increased by 21 percent, from 73,000 to 88,000.” Likewise, there was a 31 percent increase in “property damage only” crashes involving large trucks.

Here’s a general overview of the FMCSA’s general safety tasks.

Duties Carried Out by the FMCSA with Various Government Agencies & Others

  • Testing and licensing of all drivers. The FMCSA has the duty of creating consistent testing standards so the state licensing agencies can license all commercial motor vehicle drivers in the country. Every trucker must be prepared to pass these tests based on common road safety practices — and the federal government regulations regarding transportation safety issued by the FMCSA. These important rules and regulations are published in the Federal Register, and set forth together in the S. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR);
  • Efforts to Improve Safety. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is also required to monitor all covered high-risk carriers that operate trucks — and remove those who keep posing too great a risk to the other drivers using our national highway system. In addition, the FMCSA also financially helps out individual states so they can improve their roadside inspections and other key safety programs;
  • Research and Technology. Ongoing efforts are being made to find new and better ways to monitor trucking activities in an effort to improve everyone’s safety;
  • Creation of necessary task forces. This has included one designed to “identify and investigate those carriers of household goods which have exhibited a substantial pattern of consumer abuse;”
  • Strict enforcement of regulations involving hazardous waste. The FMCSA also investigates complaints about truckers and motor carriers who may be carrying hazardous materials in an unsafe manner;
  • Data gathering and analysis. Ongoing efforts must be made to collect and then analyze data regarding commercial motor carrier safety;
  • Participation in international organizations and committees. This work is pursued in an effort to help “shape the best practices in motor carrier safety throughout North America and the rest of the world.”

In explaining the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s “mission,” this DOT (Department of Transportation) agency says that it also works closely with organized labor to help enforce its many safety standards. These tasks might involve making sure that commercial truckers only drive a set, limited number of hours during each 24-hour period – while also obeying all truck load and weight requirements.

The FMCSA Also Covers Some School (and Commercial) Bus Operations

During a speech she delivered in 2013 at a “School Bus Summit” in Washington D. C., FMSCA Administrator Anne Ferro said that her agency is also in charge of regulating a limited number of bus safety issues. For example, in regards to school buses, Ms. Ferro said they tend to come under the FMSCA’s control when they involve non-government hired entities whose drivers carry students across state lines (in interstate commerce) on field trips and to various extracurricular activities. Certain other types of commercial bus activities are also governed by FMSCA rules and regulations.

Sources: FMCSA website pages: “About Us,” “Our Mission,” “Transportation Trades Department School Bus Summit” — Anne S. Ferro’s speech transcript, delivered in Washington D. C. on December 2, 2013 (also set forth on the FMCSA website).


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