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Motor Carrier Safety: Reincarnating Commercial Vehicle Companies Pose Safety Threat to Motoring Public; Federal Safety Agency Has Initiated Efforts to Prevent Future Occurrences

GAO-09-924 Published: Jul 28, 2009. Publicly Released: Jul 30, 2009.
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In 2008, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reports that there were about 300 fatalities from bus crashes in the United States. Although bus crashes are relatively rare, they are particularly deadly since many individuals may be involved. FMCSA tries to identify unsafe motor coach carriers and take them off the road. GAO was asked to determine (1) to the extent possible, the number of motor coach carriers registered with FMCSA as new entrants in fiscal years 2007 and 2008 that are substantially related to or in essence the same carriers the agency previously ordered out of service, and (2) what tools FMCSA uses to identify reincarnated carriers. To identify new entrants that were substantially related to carriers placed out of service, we analyzed FMCSA data to find matches on key fields (e.g., ownership, phone numbers, etc.). Our analysis understates the actual number of reincarnated carriers because, among other things, the matching scheme used cannot detect minor spelling changes or other deception efforts. We interviewed FMCSA officials on how the agency identifies reincarnated carriers. GAO is not making any recommendations. In July 2009, GAO briefed FMCSA on our findings and incorporated their comments, as appropriate.

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