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Federal Records Inadequate to Analyze Truck Company Safety

The federal government plays an integral role in monitoring truck company safety and compliance. In addition to making laws, inspections, and enforcement, the government also tracks violations and accidents to determine a trucking company’s safety record. According to a new report and recommendations by the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Transportation, the data used to calculate trucking company safety wasn’t adequate to measure individual carriers.

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Trucking company safety records are important for ensuring compliance, raising standards, and in the event of an accident. Our Boston truck accident attorneys are committed to protecting the rights of victims and in raising awareness to improve safety on the roads. In the event of a truck accident, our legal team will review safety reports, private and public records, and determine the cause of the accident. It is our priority to hold trucking companies responsible to prevent future accidents and injuries.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has established a program to investigate motor carrier companies responsible for the safety of commercial trucks and buses. According to the Inspector General’s report, there isn’t enough information available to effectively compare each carrier to its competitors. There is also lack of accurate and reliable data and a failure to respond to requests to correct misinformation. This is underscored by the reality that only 10 states have fully implemented the Compliance Safety Accountability (CSA) program.

Though FMCSA has doubled nterventions, primarily through warning letters to high-risk carriers, a lack of data could be inhibiting the benefits of the program. According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the CSA has a Safety Measurement System (SMS) that requires carrier performance data collected after roadside inspections or in the event of an accident. This data is then used to identify high-risk issues including unsafe driving or maintenance issues. One problem with the data analysis is that the violations do not occur often enough to strongly predict the likelihood of another accident. The companies themselves also fail to record or provide data to the FMCSA which would allow the agency to compare carriers.

Currently, an SMS score is determined by calculating the rate of violations and comparing them to other carriers. Most aren’t inspected frequently enough to produce comparative or reliable data. Effectively this means that there could be a number of high risk carriers that are not identified until it is too late. This causes the FMCSA to miss opportunities to prevent future violations and accidents. To improve the reliability of records, data, and enforcement, the U.S. Government Accountability Office is recommending a revision of SMS methodology to account for limitations.

Trucking accidents account for a substantial number of highway collisions and fatalities. Victims are often left with catastrophic injuries due to the size, speed, and damage caused by the impact. Many of these accidents could be preventable if trucking carriers adhered to federal laws and regulations. Reducing trucking carrier violations, including overloading, failed maintenance, or driver negligence, and improving record keeping methods, could also improve safety on the roads.

If you were involved in a Boston truck accident, contact Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call 1-888-367-2900.

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