FMCSA Shifts Safety Focus to Shippers and Brokers in Trucking Industry

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) division of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has released its 2011-2016 Strategic Plan to raise the bar for safety. The administration is currently asking for comments and feedback on the plan.

Road safety becomes mandatory

Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) Life-Cycle

One portion of the implementation of the Strategic Plan involves safety throughout the process of the commercial motor vehicle (CMV) system. Instead of the focus being primarily on the drivers’ behavior, the FMCSA will look at the life-cycle of the entire CMV transportation system, including the entities that control or influence the operation of CMV. Those entities include brokers and shippers who set the shipping destination, load quantity and timeframe.

The Strategic Plan will review the specific responsibilities that all parties involved have in the transport and logistics supply chain to see where improvements in safety factors can be made. This will build a more “holistic” view of safety that includes such factors as:

  • CMV and passenger vehicle driver behavior
  • Compliance systems
  • Quality of roads
  • Vehicle technologies

This will entail closer attention being paid to the timeframes set by shippers and brokers. It is known within the industry that shippers sometimes give truckers deadlines that cannot be achieved without speeding or driving outside of the legal hours of service. Another complaint with shippers is that they make truck drivers overload their trucks, even though careful placement and weight of a load is necessary to avoid accidents caused by cargo problems. A review and closer regulation of these tactics might prevent many accidents as well as citations for truckers who feel pressured into driving dangerously or illegally.

The American Trucking Association has offered its support to the regulation by the FMCSA.

Removal of Dangerous Carriers Increasing

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced in July, 2011 that enforcement of safety violation penalties has increased in an effort to step up road safety. In the last two years, the Obama Administration has issued as many imminent hazard orders that place unsafe bus and truck companies out of service as were issued in the previous 10 years combined. This eradication of unsafe carriers has been increased through surprise inspections, full compliance reviews and enforcement actions.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood affirms his dedication to road safety, “We have seen the tragic consequences of unsafe practices – whether it’s ignoring fatigue regulations, providing inadequate driver training, or failing to conduct the proper maintenance…we continue using all of the tools at our disposal to get unsafe carriers off the road.”

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