Last week, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the agency that investigates transportation accidents, issued a statement that was critical of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the agency responsible for oversight of the truck and bus industry.
The NTSB, because of its investigatory role in truck and bus accidents, has a great deal of insight as to the types of safety violations that lead to deadly truck accidents, and criticized the FMCSA for a lax response to companies' failures to comply with safety regulations.
The NTSB cited four accidents within the last 12 months as examples of where the FMCSA had evidence of the companies involved safety violations, yet failed to act prior to the fatal crashes that left 25 dead and 83 injured.
Two crashes involved bus companies that had various violations, including defective brakes, inappropriate tires, numerous vehicles placed out of service and a history of driver Hours of Service (HOS) violations. HOS violations typically occur when drivers' drive too many hours in a row, or too many days in a row.
The truck crashes involved trucking companies with "serious HOS violations." These were not merely trucks drivers who inadvertently had driven a few extra hours, but drivers who falsified logbooks and used fake logbooks, which were apparently known as "comic books."
The NTSB was also critical of the FMCSA's slow response to legislatively mandated deadlines. The FMCSA was supposed to create and implement regulations for electronic logging devices that would prevent the use of "comic book" logbooks. The agency has failed to meet this deadline.
The lackluster performance by the FMCSA allows dangerous truck and bus companies to remain in business long after they should have been closed.
Source: Advocates For Highway and Auto Safety, "STATEMENT OF JACKIE GILLAN, PRESIDENT, ADVOCATES FOR HIGHWAY AND AUTO SAFETY, ON SAFETY RECOMMENDATIONS ISSUED BY THE NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD," November 7, 2013