As a southern Illinois semi truck accident attorney, I was pleased to see a proposal for long-overdue regulatory action against the trucking industry. According to Heavy Duty Trucking magazine, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the federal agency that regulates interstate trucking, has proposed a rule that would give it the right to revoke the registration of truck and bus companies that repeatedly disregard federal rules. The agency’s mid-November proposal would also target the officers of companies that do this. The goal is to stop the few repeat offenders who shut down businesses that are out of compliance and simply start new businesses without changing any of their unsafe and illegal practices. The FMCSA is seeking public comment on the proposal, as it does with all proposals, with comments due by Jan. 14.
The agency says a small number of motor carriers (trucking and bus companies) each year are guilty of trying to avoid complying with the law or disguise their non-compliance. Under the proposed rule, the FMCSA would have the authority to suspend or revoke the operating authority registrations of these carriers. This would instantly require the carriers to shut down or pay $11,000 a day in fines. In addition to targeting the company itself, the rule would target company officers or employees who break the law or knowingly permit others to do so. Status as an officer would be determined according to actual control over operations, meaning consultants and contractors could be deemed liable. Among the failures that would trigger enforcement are consistent and repeated failure to pay fines for safety violations or comply with orders to fix known safety problems.
Importantly, the article expressly says the FMCSA would be going after companies created in order to avoid compliance with safety rules, in part by examining whether the old and new companies had equipment, facilities, insurance and customers in common. As a Missouri tractor-trailer accident lawyer, I welcome this development—but I’m disappointed and surprised that the FMCSA didn’t already have the authority to do this. “Reincarnated” companies, which are companies that simply re-form to avoid enforcement, are a problem in both the trucking and long-distance bus industries. The federal heat on these companies is increasing, in part because of accidents like a 2008 accident in Texas that killed 17 passengers, six weeks after the company’s predecessor was ordered out of business for too many safety violations. As that accident shows, the risks to the public are very real when operators of large motor vehicles repeatedly skirt the law.
At Carey, Danis & Lowe, we focus our practice on helping clients who suffered serious injuries or the loss of a loved one because of an accident with a large truck. Though many trucking companies are careful about safety, others cut corners in order to save money—and a few actively break the law. More is at stake than just money. Federal safety regulations exist in order to ensure that 18-wheelers are safe to share the road with smaller cars, because in an accident, the much larger and heavier trucks can cause death and grave injuries to the innocent people around them. Our St. Louis big rig accident attorneys help people who are injured by someone else’s bad decisions get the financial compensation they need to treat their injuries and be fairly compensated for their ordeals.
If you or someone you love suffered a serious injury because of a truck driver’s or trucking company’s negligence, don’t hesitate to call Carey, Danis & Lowe. You can reach us through our website or call 1-877-678-3400 today.
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