Weigh Stations, Regulations, and Violations…Oh My! Controlling Truck Safety
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is responsible for—among many other things—regulating truck safety. It helps to enact specific safety limitations and rules that trucks, truck drivers, and truck contractors must follow to ensure utmost safety when on the road. If you’ve ever seen a truck weigh station off the highway, this is an example of one of its regulations in action—in addition to weighing the truck to ensure it is not too heavy for the road, random inspections are performed to ensure that the truck is in full compliance with safety regulations.
Unfortunately, many FMCSA regulations have loopholes or flaws that allow truckers to bypass them, putting you at risk.
The Trouble With Enforcing Trucking Regulations
Many truck drivers are more than happy to oblige with the FMCSA regulations and inspections, even though those rules often take up a huge portion of a trucker’s daily duty hours. However, the primary problem is that there is no way to force truckers who don’t want to comply to follow the rules. The drivers who do stop at weigh stations are usually the drivers who are safe and responsible, while the shady drivers opt to take routes that avoid inspections. As a result…
- Carriers with a history of safety violations encourage their drivers to avoid weigh stations by traveling on surface streets and quieter country roads. Not only does this keep inspectors from catching violators, but it also puts traffic on those “quieter roads” at an increased risk for accidents.
- Trucks and drivers who obey the regulations and stop at weigh stations wind up losing productivity time—and that affects their reputation. On the other hand, violators of the regulations make good time by avoiding inspections—thus giving a dangerously disreputable carrier or driver a good reputation for punctuality. This means that the truck driver involved in the accident that hurt you or your family may have been shirking his or her duty to maintain a safe and compliant vehicle, all in the name of shaving off an hour or two of his delivery time. This seems to defy common sense: the safe carriers take delays for being responsible and transparent, while shady operations evade the inspections they need to stay safe.
Working to Stop Violators and Increase Regulation Control
Nebraska Senator Deb Fischer recently proposed a bill known as the “Trucking Rules Updated by Comprehensive and Key (TRUCK) Safety Reform Act,” which aims to overhaul how the agency makes rules. The proposed legislation would require the FMCSA to enact reform measures that include the following stipulations:
- Every five years, FMCSA would publish a record of the rules and guidance passed since the last review.
- Each review would require an analysis of these rules, evaluating their clarity and consistency as well as if they are enforceable and still applicable.
- After each review, the FMCSA would amend any regulations within two years.
- All guidance and rules would be made public in the Federal Register.
Although the push for creating stronger and more controllable truck regulations is imperative to future safety, this particular bill is not likely to pass, as it would be counterproductive. Rather than allowing the FMCSA to have power over setting regulations and monitoring effectiveness and obedience, the proposed law will limit the FMCSA from using its resources to work on increasing truck and traffic safety. This is why the FMCSA continues to fight and work toward catching drivers and fining them for non-complacent safety violations. There is an on-going and constant effort to improve the overall system to work towards a safer and united highway for trucks and vehicles alike.
Taking on the Fight
There are those who disobey the law and skirt responsibility, but that doesn’t mean that the FMCSA isn’t on to them, nor that you can’t protect yourself from their negligent acts.
If you have been hurt by a truck owned by a company known for safety violations, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages, pain, and suffering. Make those responsible pay for their negligence by filing an injury claim with the help of attorney Steve Lee.