Roadside inspections in NY: Are exemptions making the roads dangerous?

A group of motor carrier safety officials is calling the new roadside inspection system into question, voicing concerns that it allows unsafe commercial trucks on the nation's roadways.

Roadside inspections are designed to allow federal agencies an opportunity to ensure that commercial trucks are abiding by the regulations put in place to keep our roadways safe. Unfortunately, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), a group of motor carrier safety officials from throughout the country, has voiced concerns that too much of a burden placed on these inspectors.

This is particularly true, according to the group, when it comes to exemptions granted to drivers and carriers during these inspections. The issue is twofold: first, the safety of the roads is questioned when certain vehicles are not required to abide by the regulations and second, the training burden is heightened for inspectors. These inspectors are expected to be aware of all the exemptions and ensure that they are being followed properly.

Examples of granted exemptions have included hours of service, duty log reporting requirements, allowing drivers to operate without a commercial driver's license and allowing the mounting of video devices on the windshields of trucks.

Roadside inspections: How does New York compare to national rates?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) conducts these roadside inspections to ensure the vehicles, drivers and commercial trucking companies operating on the nation's roadways are in compliance with applicable regulations. The inspections are conducted by Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP) Inspectors. If serious violations are found, the driver will receive a driver, vehicle or hazmat Out-of-Service (OOS) Order. Neither the driver nor the vehicle can return to service until the violations are addressed.

3,383,211 inspections were conducted throughout the country during 2015. Of these inspections, 20 percent received vehicle OOS Orders, almost 5 percent were given driver OOS Orders and 3.9 percent were issued hazmat OOS orders. 115,287 inspections were conducted in New York during that same time period. The rates of OOS Orders were similar, with 21.8 percent vehicle OOS Orders issued, almost 6 percent driver OOS Orders and 12.7 percent hazmat OOS orders.

Roadside inspections: How important is compliance?

Compliance to the regulations is important, as the regulations are designed to decrease the risk of trucking accidents. The injuries and damage that results from trucking accidents is generally much more severe than those involving only passenger vehicles. This is due to simple physics, commercial trucks often weigh significantly more than passenger vehicles. When a heavier object collides with a smaller one, the damage to the smaller vehicle and those within can be catastrophic.

Remedies are often available to victims of these accidents. These remedies can include monetary awards to help cover the cost of medical bills, prescriptions, physical therapy and other treatments as well as lost wages. Contact an experienced tractor trailer accident lawyer to discuss your options.