WASHINGTON — The U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has shown "a pattern of undermining its safety mission by proposing weak regulations and failing to provide adequate oversight … of existing regulations," declared a report by the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Transportation, Housing and Urban Development.
The Senate report heavily criticizes the federal DOT agency responsible for trucking safety and compliance, adding that in the recent past several watchdog agencies including the DOT Inspector General, the Government Accountability Office, and the National Transportation Safety Board have all found fault with the FMCSA’s systems and protocols.
The report blasts the FMCSA for not responding sufficiently to the Senate committee’s past recommendations on issues such as hours-of-service, drug-testing rules, and CDL qualifications for drivers.
"The rules that FMCSA has proposed fail to achieve maximum safety benefits, and in some instances may undermine safety," the report states, specifically referring to the seemingly never-ending legal battle over hours-of-service rules.
The rules were quickly struck-down by a court after being introduced in 2004 thanks to pressure by special interest groups and unions. The court later threw out the 11th hour of driving and the 34-hour restart provisions as well.
But an appeals court held the two provisions in place until the FMCSA publishes a revised regime that better justifies the legality of the rules later this year.
The committee, which recommended $541,000,000 in funding for FMCSA, warned the transport agency that the new set of rules better be bulletproof and "truly protects the safety of drivers and the driving public."
Meanwhile, the report also criticized the FMCSA’s handling of the agency’s drug-testing systems. A scathing GAO report recently revealed that drivers who tested positive for drugs were not identified and continued to drive without penalty. Almost all of the drug test collection sites the GAO visited during an audit were found not be compliant with basic procedures.
In response, the FMCSA unveiled plans last month aimed at toughening up oversight in the system.
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