Truck Safety:

Need to Better Ensure Correction of Serious Inspection Violations

RCED-90-202: Published: Sep 28, 1990. Publicly Released: Oct 9, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO evaluated Federal Highway Administration (FHwA) and state actions to ensure that commercial motor vehicles correct identified safety violations.

GAO found that: (1) neither FHwA nor the states comprehensively tracked corrections of out-of-service violations; (2) preliminary results from FHwA-funded studies showed an overall noncompliance rate of 12 percent, and individual state noncompliance rates varied from 9 to 53 percent; (3) internal control procedures to ensure compliance with out-of-service orders included reinspection, verification, and carrier certification; (4) most states failed to use adequate control procedures and document results, and only five states used all three control procedures; (5) FHwA emphasized roadside inspections over control procedures; (6) drivers left unattended at inspection sites were more likely to honor out-of-service orders; (7) states failed to reinspect due to limited resources and operational restraints; (8) FHwA had limited ability to enforce carrier certification regulations, due to the voluntary nature of the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP); and (9) only about 40 percent of 1988 and 1989 inspection data was available due to multiple problems at the federal and state level. GAO also found that other actions to increase compliance included: (1) timely, state entry of data into a federal information system; (2) a 1-year license disqualification for the first offense; and (3) recording reinspection activity on inspection forms.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Intermodal Surface Transportation Act of 1991 requires the Secretary to issue regulations establishing sanctions and penalties for out-of-service violations which include disqualification of commercial driver's license. A notice of proposed rulemaking was issued by FHwA on January 15, 1993. Following analyses of comments, the final rulemaking is expected to be issued in January 1994.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FHwA, to initiate a rulemaking procedure to add noncompliance with out-of-service orders to the Commercial Driver's License (CDL) serious traffic offense provisions that require a license disqualification.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Because all states have begun submitting Safetynet inspection data, FHwA believes that notifying a carrier's home state of an out-of-service violation would be duplicative of the electronic compilation provided by Safetynet. If all the states are submitting Safetynet data, GAO agrees there is no need for states to receive this separate notification.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FHwA, to direct FHwA officers in the states not transmitting complete and timely Safetynet inspection data to forward copies of all inspections with out-of-service violations to the carriers' home state to supplement carrier information.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FHwA developed state action plans for improving submissions of Safetynet data. As of September 1991, all states are submitting data to Safetynet. To be eligible for FHwA motor carrier safety funds, states must submit data on a timely basis.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FHwA, to expand planned FHwA procedures for states not transmitting any Safetynet data to include those states not consistently transmitting complete and timely Safetynet inspection data. This should include development of individual state action plans and periodic progress reports to the Secretary of Transportation on the overall status of Safetynet completion in MCSAP states.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FHwA issued final regulations on September 8, 1992 requiring states to establish a program for conducting motor carrier inspecton and reinspection activities to ensure safety violations are found and corrected in order to receive MCSAP funding.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FHwA, to encourage greater state use of the controls found to be effective by setting aside MCSAP funds for this purpose or by withholding MCSAP funding for states failing to do so in a reasonable time frame.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FHwA issued final regluations on September 8, 1992, requiring states to conduct activities, including on-site reinspection activities, to ensure that violations are corrected. The states must also track and evaluate the effectiveness of these activities. The requirement that carriers certify corrections has been eliminated.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FHwA, to require FHwA inspectors and encourage state inspectors to verify a sample of out-of-service orders as a standard part of all carrier terminal visits to maximize MCSAP resources.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FHwA issued final regulations on September 8, 1992, requiring states to conduct activities, including on-site reinspection activities, to ensure that violations are corrected. The states must also track and evaluate the effectiveness of these activities. The requirement that carriers certify corrections has been eliminated.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FHwA, to encourage states to reinspect a sample of out-of-service orders, emphasizing those found by the state to be most likely to violate those orders.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FHwA issued final regulations on September 8, 1992, requiring states to conduct activities, including on-site reinspecton activities, to ensure that violations are corrected. The states must also track and evaluate the effectiveness of these activities. The requirement that carriers certify corrections has been eliminated.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FHwA, to enforce program requirements that carriers certify violation correction and that states monitor carrier certifications, at least for all out-of-service violations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  8. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FHwA issued final regulations on September 8, 1992 requiring states to develop inspection reports that would provide for reinspection information showing that out-of-service and other safety violations have been corrected, and require the signature of the repair person.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FHwA, to modify inspection forms to accept reinspection information and to require separate repair person certification of out-of-service violations to provide more specific information on the correction of those violations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

 

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