GAO cites improvement in FMCSA’s enforcement of truck safety
A congressional watchdog agency report found that the U.S. Transportation Department’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has made “considerable strides” in increasing the effectiveness of its enforcement programs for large trucks.
Congress sought improvements to FMCSA enforcement in 1999. It’s estimated that 5,000 people die and more than 120,000 are injured each year from crashes involving large trucks.
The Government Accountability Office noted that the FMCSA had doubled its number of on-site safety reviews at carrier operations from about 6,400 in 1998 to 11,300 in 2004. The agency also increased the average civil penalty for violations by about 75 percent, from $820 to $1,400 over the same period.
The GAO said in its report that the FMCSA was able to accomplish its general enforcement improvements at the same time it took on additional homeland security-related reviews of hazardous materials carriers and safety reviews for new carriers.
In specific, the GAO said the agency’s enforcement efforts address major risk areas that contribute to crashes and targets enforcement at carriers with the greatest crash risk.
However, the GAO report pointed out that the FMCSA could do a better job at measuring the effectiveness of its civil penalties in order to know whether they should be changed. The GAO also said the agency should improve its oversight of Motor Carrier Assistance Program grants.