The trucking industry is vocally supporting the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) move to begin enforcing its New Entrant Safety Assurance Process rule. The rule requires newly registered truck and bus companies to meet stricter safety requirements.
“This is a good step towards eliminating those carriers out there just in the business solely to make a profit,” David Heller, director of safety and policy for the Truckload Carriers Assn., told FleetOwner. “You need an emphasis on safety if you’re going to be a trucking carrier. If you don’t, then you shouldn’t be in this business.”
“Raising the safety bar for entry into trucking is something ATA [the American Trucking Assns.] fully supports,” added Dave Osiecki, the group’s vp of safety, security and operations.
Under FMCSA’s new-entrant requirements, a newly registered truck or bus company will automatically fail its safety audit if violations to any one of 16 essential federal regulations are discovered. These regulations cover: controlled substances and alcohol testing; hours-of-service rules; driver qualifications; vehicle condition; and carrier insurance responsibility.
Failure to pass a new-entrant safety audit may result in revocation of a carrier’s registration, unless that carrier takes corrective action within a time period established by FMCSA, the agency noted.
Additionally, if certain violations are discovered during roadside inspections, the new carrier may be subject to an expedited safety audit or a compliance review that can result in fines or an out-of-service order.
“This new rule helps to ensure that only the safest carriers can enter the industry and continue to operate on our roadways,,” said FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro. “By strengthening the new-entrant process, our agency supports new carriers as they establish and maintain critical safety management controls that enable them to operate in full compliance with federal safety regulations.”
Stephen Keppler, interim executive director of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, said the members of that organization fully support FMCSA’s effort to hold new entrants to the truck and bus industries to a higher safety standard.
“We’ve been pushing for this program for a long time,” he told FleetOwner. “Our position is that this is a good thing and that it is not a ‘barrier’ to businesses. There is tremendous value in establishing that interaction between FMCSA and new truck and bus companies early on, so they can be set on the right path in terms of complying with safety regulations.”
Indeed, the ATA believes the bar should be raised even higher. “New carriers should be required to take and pass a safety training course before beginning operations,” Osiecki told FleetOwner, referring to one of the 18 initiatives sought by the trucking lobby in its highway safety agenda released earlier this year.