Motor carriers - buses and other vehicles that carry passengers - are subject to fines and other enforcement actions when they operate unsafely. Companies with repeated violations and truck accidents can be forced off the road by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a regulatory agency.
In the past, some unsafe carriers have continued operating through a loophole in the system. These so-called "reincarnated carriers" could put a record of safety violations behind them and continue operating by simply shutting down and reincorporating under a different name.
New rules by the FMCSA will help put a stop to this practice. Changes to the agency's administrative procedures target repeat-offender reincarnated carriers by consolidating the carriers' old and new records. Beginning May 29, the agency can issue out-of-service orders to shut down these carriers.
As a result, unsafe carrier companies will have to shut down operations and challenge the agency's actions in court before they can reopen. Further, carriers can no longer pay civil penalties for a violation without admitting guilt in most cases.
Motor carrier companies with poor safety records - including reincarnated carriers - pose an exceptional danger to other passengers and other motorists. In 2008, a bus crash in Sherman, Texas, resulted in the deaths of 17 passengers. The bus company was operating under a pending application with the FMCSA, despite multiple safety violations under its old name.
Under the new rules, the FMCSA can stop such carriers from operating until they have agreed to essential safety measures. This rule change is a positive step toward safety for everyone on the roads.