DOT Safety Regulation Update Fast-Fax™
Week of June 27, 2011
Foley Services Your Single Source for DOT Compliance
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration continues its highly publicized war against problematic passenger carriers; naming and shaming those shut down. Are cargo-carrying motor carriers next?
FMCSA’s aggressive pursuit of passenger carriers claimed another victim this week. The Agency issued a press release announcing that it had shut down Georgia-based H & W Tour, Inc. for gross violations of the regulations.
The press release revealed that the violations H & W Tour, Inc. committed were so severe that the shut down order was issued only a few hours after the investigation began. Per FMCSA:
“Evidence obtained during a compliance review conducted today by FMCSA Safety Investigators disclosed that H & W Tour, Inc., continued transportation of passengers without federal operating authority and without the required level of insurance. The company failed to conduct pre-employment drug tests on its drivers and institute a random drug and alcohol testing program as required by federal regulations. The company failed to ensure that its drivers comply with hours-of-service requirements, records of duty requirements and driver’s qualification requirements. Buses were not properly inspected, maintained or repaired by the company as required by federal regulations.”
Why Is This Happening?
Obviously, these violations are extremely serious. So why is FMCSA taking such a hard-line? And why now?
The reason lies in the media response to the Bronx Expressway crash in March. Not only was that a particularly deadly accident — 14 killed — but the facts of the accident, especially, the fact that the bus was nearly cleaved in two were, from a media perspective, highly salacious.
It is safe to say that most bus and truck crashes don’t get the media attention that the Bronx expressway crash did and since then, there has been widespread media coverage of the safety of the motor coach industry. In the last month or two virtually every crash involving a bus has made at least the cable news channels if not the nightly network broadcasts.
This has put a lot of pressure on FMCSA. Not only is the agency being held culpable for the accidents it is also finding that the CSA system is a double-edged sword. By posting every violation, even the most minor, on the publicly accessible website, it is being forced to answer to the media — and to Congress — for every violation it allowed to pass.
Are Cargo-Carriers Next?
The key question for the summer will be ‘are cargo-carriers next?’ Unfortunately, there is a distinct possibility that they will be. Late last week, there was a tragic accident near Fallon, NV which has brought the media spotlight squarely on truck drivers.
In this accident, a truck failed to stop at a crossing-gate and plowed into the side of Amtrak’s California Zephyr. At least six people were killed with another two still left unaccounted for.
Already, there have been strong similarities to the Bronx Expressway accident in the media’s response. Within hours of the crash, the Associated Press was dissecting the trucking companies’ CSA scores and looking for previous violations. These were quickly spread around the web and cable news and even were discussed during the nightly network broadcasts.
While it is still early, it looks likely that FMCSA will be forced to respond to this accident with the same strict hand they responded to the bus companies.
What Can You Do?
It is important to understand that, for the foreseeable future, FMCSA is not going to be giving any leeway for moderate to serious violations. While Foley Carrier Services has always endorsed strict regulatory compliance, it cannot be overstated that, right now, you should be crossing every ‘t’ and dotting every ‘i’.
As we reported in Fast-Fax 690, appeals extensions are a thing of the past. If FMCSA finds a serious error with your compliance activity, it is likely you will be immediately shut down (and your company’s name publicly denounced).
We recommend, very strongly, that you perform a self-compliance review of your entire operation. If you have any area where you even think you may have an issue, please give us a call. You can call us toll free at 1-800-253-5506. We will be more than happy to go over any area of the regulations and to help you make sure that you are in compliance.
Late Breaking News. As Fast-Fax was being put to bed this week, we received word that yet ANOTHER passenger carrier had been shut down by FMCSA.
Mr. Ho Charter Service of Bethlehem, PA, was already appealing a fine for not having a random drug testing program when one of its busses crashed, killing the co-driver and injuring 25 more.
During the appeal against the original fine, it was discovered the company had hired two new drivers (those involved in the crash) without requiring a pre-employment drug or alcohol test. It was also discovered that the two drivers had falsified their records. The details of the shut-down were published in an FMCSA press-release.
Editor: Roxanne Swidrak, Vice President, Operations • 1-800-253-5506 • www.FoleyServices.com • Vol. 111, No. 693 • © Foley Carrier Services, LLC. 2011