Most individuals are aware that there have been many accidents and incidents involved with large trucks, such as minor infractions and violations to full scale crashes that have resulted in injury or even fatalities. Oftentimes, these incidents can also come as a result of safety violations, such as ignoring the overall maintenance that is needed for equipment to the problems associated with reckless driving. When these violations occur they are typically logged into a federal database, presented by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which is then made available to the public.
This is extremely useful in terms of safety and simply knowing what kind of problems may exist with certain type of carriers. It serves as a great benefit to both the public and private organizations. However, Representative Lou Barletta (R-11th) believes that this kind of platform should be done away with.
According to research, Mr. Barletta has introduced legislation that would shield these citation records within the trucking industry from public viewing. Barletta claims that the Compliance Safety Accountability (CSA) system, which houses these records, is flawed because it can be misinterpreted by anyone who has access to it; not only the general public, but also federal agencies, local governments, carriers, manufacturers and so forth.
According to Barletta, “Companies across the country and in Pennsylvania are being unfairly misrepresented by their safety scores, causing economically devastating impacts to these bus and truck companies.”
In order to understand why hiding this information from the public can become problematic however, one should understand what these records do and what exactly they show. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which oversees the trucking industry, utilizes the database to create a safety score that is used for all carriers, no matter how big or small.
According to the research, the trucking industry has seen an increase of large truck crashes. In 2012 alone, approximately 4,000 individuals were killed and 104,000 were injured in truck crashes. The aforementioned system is created to decrease the number of truck crashes that are seen in several different ways.
To start, it allows the general public to understand what companies have discrepancies, such as drivers who have received several citations. This not only allows consumers to place their trust in more stable company, but it also forces the company to be proactive. A company that has a high amount of public scrutiny will be more likely to lose customers and as such, it is in their benefit to then change its practices, reprimand drivers with citations, and otherwise make strides to see an increase for their rating.
Also, after an 18-wheeler accident records or rule violations can be important evidence in an injury lawsuit.
In addition, contrary to Barletta’s assumptions, drivers who have been unfairly targeted can actively contest their violations. If they do so successfully, these can be tossed out.
However, if these ratings are hidden all of that changes. The system works well to act as a deterrent for poor driving and practices, without it; that deterrent is diminished and companies are free to from the public scrutiny that may have kept them in check previously.