The price tag for trucking companies and truck drivers who violate Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) has gone up. Trucking Info reports fines were raised for many different violations – not just for FMCSR infractions but also for violations of commercial driver’s license requirements and rules for commercial driver’s licenses.
An experienced personal injury lawyer knows federal and state rules applicable to truck drivers are designed to prevent serious collisions and protect the public. Hopefully, the increase in fines will make truck drivers and trucking companies increasing wary of breaking the rules in order to avoid being hit with large penalties. By acting as a deterrent for rule breaking, the larger fines should help to reduce the number of dangerous violations among motor carriers and truck drivers. This, in turn, could help to reduce the rate of truck accidents.
Larger Fines Could Reduce Risk of Truck Accidents
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has substantially raised fines for certain violations, according to Trucking Info. For example, an egregious violation of hours-of-service rules used to have a maximum fine of $11,000. The purpose of hours-of-service rules are to reduce the incidence of truck collisions caused by fatigued drivers-the rules require drivers to take breaks after a certain number of hours driving per day and per week. The new fines, which went into effect June 2, establish a maximum fine of $16,000 if there is an egregious breach of hours-of-service rules, Trucking Info reports.
Fines also increased significantly for many violations related to the transport of hazardous materials. While most violations related to HAZMAT rules previously had a maximum $50,000 penalty, the new system imposes a maximum $75,000 penalty, according to Trucking Info.
Fines were raised in many other areas as well, including higher penalties for violation of an out-of-service order and higher fines for a trucking company that fails to record when a commercial driver has violated FMCSRs.
Fines and penalties may also be imposed on trucking companies and truck drivers if FMCSA identifies the violations during an inspection and/or during an audit of the trucking company. Trucking Info reports that high-risk companies with multiple violations may be put into a Compliance, Safety, Accountability Enforcement Program. These programs involve more frequent inspections and additional oversight by FMCSA.
When FMCSA takes action and imposes penalties and fines against a driver or against a trucking company, the steps the agency has taken and the penalties levied become public record. Information from FMCSA proceedings can be used as part of the evidence a plaintiff presents in a truck accident case to demonstrate the truck driver or trucking company was negligent and should thus be held responsible for a collision and resulting losses.
Hopefully the new penalties will make everyone involved in the trucking industry will be more focused on compliance with the rules in order to avoid the more stringent consequences associated with failure to follow safety guidelines.