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How Unsafe Trucks And Truck Drivers Remain On The Roads

There is no shortage of regulations aimed at the trucking industry. Many of these regulations are intended to ensure that truck drivers are well rested, properly trained, have safe driving records and are monitored. Trucks are supposed to be carefully maintained, properly loaded and designed for safety. Trucking companies are supposed to employ competent, safe drivers, keep their trucks in good working order and provide a working atmosphere that is conducive to safety. As with many regulations, these are often ignored when they get in the way of profit.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration monitors trucking companies. Unfortunately, it is possible for a company to compile a lousy safety record over a long period of time while still maintaining the right to drive on American roads. Bad employers are allowed to operate in ways that almost guarantee an accident. Drivers may be pressured to drive unsafe hours and falsify log books to keep their jobs. Trucks may be "maintained" by unqualified or even incompetent mechanics. Repeated violations may not draw a strong response until someone is killed. 

The Government Accountability Office recently found that the FMCSA was not targeting the most dangerous companies in its enforcement efforts. While the total number of investigations rose substantially in recent years, the least safe carriers were not targeted and were generally allowed to continue operating. Fatal accidents may call attention to multiple warning letters issued by the FMCSA, but they do little to comfort the families of those killed.

Source: Star Gazette, "Weak regulators? Death by truck on New York's roads" by Steve Reilly, 10 October 2014 

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