FMCSA’s enforcement authority growth spurt

| August 23, 2013

In a “Smart session” held in conjunction with the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas Aug. 22, Compliance Safety Systems head David Saunders connected the dots between provisions written into the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) highway bill and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s broadening authority to take action to shut down what it deems as high-risk carriers.

Today, as outlined in this story, part of our May installments in the CSA’s Data Trail series, the process continues to be tied to on-site investigations. Increasingly, however, carriers’ rankings in the CSA Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories play a role. If and when the Safety Fitness Determination rulemaking makes its way through the Congress, the process could well become increasingly more of a matter of roadside data analysis.

A carrier is high-risk if
1. Its ranking in the Unsafe Driving, Hours of Service Compliance or Crash Indicator BASIC exceeds 85 and

2. It has a ranking above intervention/ alert threshold in one other BASIC.


1. It has rankings above intervention/ alert threshold in four or more SMS BASICs.

Section 31135 of the Title 49 of the U.S. Code was amended in the highway bill to broaden DOT authority to “withhold, suspend, amend, or revoke” carriers’ and/or drivers’ and company officers’ operating-authority registrations if patterns of noncompliance were seen. FMCSA’s ongoing “quick strike” probes of “high-risk” passenger carriers are evidence of such authority in action, the agency working in part from the CSA BASICs to identify compliance under-performing bus lines to determine who exactly deserves a visit. 

The Unified Registration System, published as a final rule just this week, sets up a centralized database of information on carriers (and other entities) involved in interstate commerce. Once all 50 states are communicating vehicle registration information to URS via the Performance and Registration Information System Management (PRISM) Program, Saunders suggested FMCSA would have a powerful tool in its ability to take action against carriers showing patterns of noncompliance, offering the agency the ability to suspend vehicle registrations.

“The only reason they have not gone out and taken a bunch of registrations is because the states aren’t communicating with the system yet,” Saunders said, but just as “if you can’t get a load, you can’t start the business, if you can’t get insurance, you can’t stay in business.” 

CSA Lawsuit
Arguments in the lawsuit against FMCSA over particulars of the CSA program brought by the Alliance for Safe, Efficient and Competitive Truck Transportation (ASECTT) are scheduled for Sept. 10, Saunders noted, just around the corner. The D.C. Circuit Court where the case is being heard “doesn’t play,” Saunders noted.

His “hunch” prognosis for the suit, which argues that FMCSA abdicated its authority by encouraging shippers, brokers and other carriers to use its CSA Safety Measurement System for business decisions like carrier selection, was that the court  “will go back and order FMCSA to change the algorithms” that determine how the scores are computed, ultimately, to better reflect crash risk. 

  • No Reform

    Some of these “companies” might need a little supervision.
    This Carolina Cargo Inc Of Rock Hill S.C. has 2 Alerts on their FMCSA file…one for unsafe driving 97%!! They hire Parolees and pay them 10CPM to run team and haul Produce. Their Maintenance file is a bit shabby too..they rack up 50 and 60 points and get palced out of service for minor stuff like Steering Components and Brakes??

  • martymarsh

    There are the key words in the first paragraph, BROADENING AUTHORITY. Get your check book ready folks.

  • No Reform

    yea..the term “Smart Session” is pretty funny too.

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  • No Reform

    They might want to “look around” at Pritchett Trucking Inc.
    in Florida…after their driver went on a RAMPAGE of shooting and killing…Aug 24.

  • No Reform

    Cops are so Busy looking at LIGHTBULBS..they miss alot of the OBVIOUS much LARGER issues??

  • martymarsh

    Why would they investigate the trucking company, the guy doing the shooting was just another disgruntled employee, that was a lot of sarcasm.
    The investigators wouldn’t comment on a motive, so all of this will come on the shooter, which happen to be a 72 year old man, gee at that age you would think he would have some patience with people, unless maybe he was just tired of getting screwed.
    I am amazed this don’t happen more often.
    I think we know they don’t investigate the real criminals.

  • No Reform

    Yep these cops are obsessed with Light they stand there with their Gun at the Ready..they Might want to think about doing Police Work. Trucking companies NOW are Hiring Ex convicts(Felons) with SEVERAL felonies to roam the country..and we KNOW there are THOUSANDS of illegal aliens(nobody knows WHO they are or WHAT CRIMES they may have comitted) driving freely all over America. Read the requirements for new hires..Felony?? No problem at the TOP mega fleets and on down..coz they work CHEAP.

  • martymarsh

    No matter how we look at it, it would appear that all of the problems are with management, LMAO, I knew that. strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.