Enforcement of trucking regulations uneven, inefficient

There is no doubt that the trucking industry is crucial in transporting goods across the country. Many of the products we buy and depend on are delivered every day via commercial trucks and in many cases it is the safest way to haul heavy and potentially hazardous cargo.

However, there are times when these trucks are involved in serious accidents that can prove to be fatal for other motorists. Because of this threat, trucking companies are expected to comply with strict state and federal regulations. These rules are enforced by federal agencies including the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Unfortunately, enforcement efforts have come under fire in recent years because they do not appear to be as effective as they should be.

Truck accidents are unfortunately common here in Tennessee. In fact, as we previously discussed in this article, more than 10 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities in Knox County in 2011 were the result of a truck accident. 

Many truck crashes could have been prevented with better compliance with safety regulations. In several cases, investigations into these accidents ultimately revealed numerous violations that should have been addressed in previous reviews and audits.

Recently, an independent review of commercial vehicle crashes revealed that the FMCSA had audited the motor carriers involved but failed to address serious risks that contributed to the accidents. The review made several recommendations for how to remedy this troubling issue.

One of the recommendations focused on prioritizing compliance issues. It was noted that the FMCSA overlooked certain violations that were more difficult to document even though they were more directly linked to crash risks.

What this means for motorists is that the FMCSA, while working to enforce trucking policies, was not always effective in addressing and citing the most immediate concerns. This could lead to delays in or failures to fix these hazards, putting other motorists at risk of being hurt in an accident with a dangerous truck or driver.

The FMCSA has been working to improve enforcement efforts in recent years, but there is still a long way to go. Until more dramatic and effective measures are put into place to address violations before an accident, legal action by truck accident victims and their families may be the most effective way to hold a non-compliant company accountable.