What Is the FMCSA’s “Patterns of Safety Violation Rule”?

Patterns of Safety Violation RuleThe Patterns of Safety Violation is a rule initiated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in January of 2014. The FMCSA has authority, given by the Secretary of Transportation, to set up safety standards regulating the operation and equipment of a motor carrier working in interstate commerce.

This rule allows the agency to “suspend or revoke the operating authority registration of for-hire motor carriers that show egregious disregard for safety compliance, permit persons who have shown egregious disregard for safety compliance to exercise controlling influence over their operations or operate multiple entities under common control to conceal noncompliance with safety regulations.”

The FMCSA’s goal is to eliminate motor carriers with a history of gross negligence as it allows the FMCSA to suspend or revoke operating authority registration of for-hire motor carriers that show disregard for safety compliance or tolerate this type of behavior from their drivers. This allows them to declare a motor carrier a hazard and suspend their operations if they continue to allow unsafe operations. It is meant to catch motor carriers who apply for new authority because their current authority has a poor safety record.

The rule states:

FMCSA has determined that each year a small number of motor carriers have attempted to avoid regulatory compliance or mask or otherwise conceal noncompliance by submitting new applications for registration, often under a different name, to continue operations after being placed out of service or to avoid other negative consequences of non-compliant behavior including a poor safety history.

If the FMCSA determines that a motor carrier hasn’t complied with safety regulations or has tried to hide their noncompliance by applying for a new authority, the FMCSA can suspend or revoke its existing authority. They must, however, according to the Rule, provide notice of its plan to suspend or revoke and allow the carrier to respond.

Why is this rule important?

This rule is SO important because it is supposed to keep unsafe trucks and unsafe truckers off the road. Carriers who hide their compliance with safety regulations will not be allowed to put trucks out on the road. This will help to create a safer environment for U.S. motorists. It will eliminate the way that many motor carriers get around safety regulations and are complicit in allowing unsafe behavior from truck drivers on roads and highways in the U.S.

What counts as “patterns of safety violations”?

The FMCSA has hundreds of rules on its books, all of which are designed to ensure that drivers AND truckers are safe. A big-rig driver who violates a rule – like getting a speeding ticket – is likely to get a dressing down from his or her boss, but one ticket does not a pattern make.

What the FMCSA is looking for are carriers who keep messing up. Maybe they don’t run proper background checks, or maybe they’ve got drivers pushing past the mandated Hours or Service. Perhaps their rigs are always shedding debris and materials on the road, or their drivers are known for speeding or falling asleep behind the wheel. Maybe they didn’t install their trucks’ guards or update the software for the electronic logging devices. Or maybe the trucking company just doesn’t fill out the right paperwork on time, and so its drivers – though safe – are driving trucks with missing or out-of-date registration, inspection, or even insurance.

In any event, if a trucking company commits multiple violations (or even just one or two violations, but repeatedly), the FMCSA is within its authority to claim a pattern of safety violations by the carrier.

Who is liable for a truck accident?

In many cases, the truck driver will be held liable if his or her negligence is the cause of your injuries. The trucking company may also be liable. For example, say a driver nods off behind the wheel and hits another car. The reason that driver nodded off, however, is because the trucking company forced him to drive when he shouldn’t be, violating the HOS rules. In such a case, both the driver and the carrier may be cited, and could be named as defendants in a civil lawsuit. In addition to the driver and carrier, there are other entities who may shoulder the blame of the accident as well. If the cargo that is being moved in the truck contributes to injuries, the shipper may also be responsible.

Additionally, those who loaded the shipments may be held responsible as well if weight distribution was off and contributed to the accident. Other vendors involved in the truck or driver maintenance, including those who recruit drivers, perform drug tests, or repair trucks may also be answerable for the aftermath of a truck accident. Lastly, if the incident was caused by some sort of mechanical failure, the manufacturer of the truck or parts of the truck could also share in the blame.

When you have suffered serious injuries in a truck accident, you need the right lawyer on your side. The laws concerning trucking and transportation are extremely complicated, and insurance companies and big carriers may try to take advantage of you. Rocky McElhaney Law firm in Nashville will fight for your rights when you suffer a loss or injury because of a truck accident.

We have years of experience regarding truck accidents and can present the best strategy to increase the chances of reaching the verdict that you deserve. Let the Nashville truck accident lawyers at Rocky McElhaney Law Firm fight for your rights. You deserve to be compensated fairly for any pain or loss you have suffered. Call our office at 615-425-2500, or submit our contact form to schedule a free consultation today. We are proud to represent clients in Nashville, Hendersonville, and Clarksville.