Federal investigators have documented over $7 million in fines, forfeitures and restitution along with more than 54 years in total incarceration for individuals sentenced in commercial driver’s license (CDL) fraud over the last four years.
The statistics were released Friday by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General (DOT OIG) as part of its annual assessment of top management challenges at agencies within the department for the upcoming fiscal year.
The 2021 report noted that in working to reduce crashes involving large trucks and buses, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) “must provide robust oversight of states’ compliance with requirements for CDL programs. That mandate includes monitoring certified medical examiners who conduct physical examinations to qualify drivers for commercial vehicles.
“In addition, FMCSA must take steps to identify and prevent CDL fraud. OIG investigations have uncovered fraud related to several CDL issues, including commercial driver medical examinations involving doctors or drivers, public corruption of state employees, CDL third-party testers, reincarnated carriers and other CDL-related issues.”
DOT OIG revealed 41 sentencings between 2016 and 2020, with cases that included CDL medical examination fraud involving doctors or drivers, public corruption of state employees, CDL third-party tester fraud and carriers that had been illegally “reincarnated.”
The DOT watchdog agency also called out FMCSA for lagging on improvements on the way it assesses carrier safety rankings, citing a 27-page audit report on FMCSA’s Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) program that the DOT OIG issued last year. “FMCSA must take steps to ensure it has the quality data needed to support its assessment of motor carrier safety performance,” OIG warned.
An additional concern and a priority for 2021 are truck crashes, according to the OIG. It pointed out that while the number of fatalities in all motor vehicle traffic crashes in the U.S. decreased by 3.3% from 2016 to 2018, fatalities in crashes involving large trucks or buses have increased by 5.8%.
“To enhance safety, the department faces the ongoing challenge of ensuring compliance with regulations for safety programs nationwide. At the same time, DOT must continue making progress on monitoring and enforcement efforts in order to have timely and effective outcomes for highway, motor carrier, pipeline and railroad safety programs.”
Other DOT management challenge areas for fiscal 2021 highlighted in the OIG report include:
- Aviation safety. Key challenges are improving the Federal Aviation Administration’s oversight of aircraft certification processes and enhancing aviation safety oversight while working in a collaborative environment.
- Surface transportation infrastructure. Key challenges are enhancing oversight of surface transportation projects and employing effective asset and performance management.
- Contract and grant fund stewardship. Key challenges are awarding pandemic relief and other DOT contracts and grants efficiently, effectively and for intended purposes and enhancing contract and grant management and oversight to achieve desired results and compliance with requirements.
- Information security. Key challenges are addressing long-standing cybersecurity weaknesses and developing departmentwide policy to validate the proper adoption and security of cloud services.
- Financial management. Key challenges are strengthening procedures to monitor and report grantee spending and preventing an increase in improper payments.
- Innovation and the future of transportation. Key challenges are adapting oversight approaches for emerging vehicle automation technologies and ensuring the safe integration of unmanned aircraft systems in the national airspace system.
- Driver qualification, detention among DOT 2020 priorities
- FMCSA may face trouble in assessing carrier safety scores
- Feds reveal large-truck crash trends unchanged in 2019