Increased FMCSA Fines Cost More Than You Think

6/26/15

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The Federal Motor Carrier Administration has a number of tools to meet its stated goal of reducing the number of commercial motor vehicle crashes.  Included in these are information about roadside inspections (CSA), educating motor carriers through seminars and entry level audits, and enforcement actions.  There are three primary types of enforcement used by the FMCSA, including the roadside inspection, targeted audit, and compliance review.  Any one of these three enforcement actions can lead to fines, penalties, and in very rare cases, the shutting down of an operation.  The fines that can be levied were significantly increased on June 2, 2015.

Some of the updated fines: 

Category  Fine as of June 2, 2015 Previous fine
 Knowingly falsifying recordsUp to $11,000 Up to $10,000 
 Egregious hours of service violationsUp to $16,000 Up to $11,000 
 HMR violations associated with the transportation or shipment of hazardous materialsUp to $75,000 for each violation Not less than $250 and not more than $50,000 for each violation 
 Violations of hazardous materials training requirements Not less than $50 and not more than $75,000 for each violation Not less than $450 and not more than $50,000 for each violation 
 An employer allowing a CDL driver to violate an OOS orderNot less than $4,750 or more than $27,500 Not less than $3,750 and not more than $16,000 
 A CDL holder who is convicted of violating an OOS orderNot less than $2,750 for the first conviction and not less than $5,500 for each subsequent conviction Not less than $2,100 and not more than $3,750 


While the fines may not seem to be “back-breaking” they can quickly add up if multiple violations are found during an inspection or review.  In some cases the fines may not show up for months after a roadside inspection is completed or in the case of a compliance review, can exceed $100,000 if a number of critical violations are uncovered.  Additionally, multiple critical violations can result in a failed audit or compliance review that could place the motor carrier into a “conditional” or “unsatisfactory” safety rating. 

Another unwelcome result of an enforcement action is that once the action is settled, it is a matter of public record, as highlighted in www.truckinginfo.com.  This information negatively reflects on the organization, even if the underlying issues were minor at the time of the infraction.  Shippers, plaintiff attorneys, insurance carriers, and the media will seek out this information as needed.  Potential drivers will also look at CSA scores and the underlying violations when vetting a potential employer. 

In one case a few years back, a large Midwestern newspaper had at the top of its Sunday headline “Truck Firms Fines Among Highest in the Industry”.  They were talking about a local trucking company that received a fine of $92,000 for multiple critical violations in 2007.  While the fine was significant it was not nearly as painful as the damage done to the organization’s reputation.

To combat the challenges associated with FMCSA regulations, we recommend:

  1. Requiring drivers to submit all roadside inspections in a timely manner.
  2. Checking online safety data (CSA) regularly to monitor roadside inspection violations. There may be occasions where inspections are miscoded or an officer misinterpreted a regulation. Any issues such as these can be challenged through the DataQ System.
  3. Conduct a regular assessment of the FMCSA compliance program to ensure that the various components are in compliance with the regulations.
  4. Educate drivers and management on FMCSA compliance regulations and their roles in remaining complaint.

With safety being the number one concern and mission of the FMCSA, it is imperative that you have a solid safety training program in place to address issues before an audit. Preparing your drivers for a range of on-the-road issues, recordkeeping and CDL violations is your best bet for staying away from the increasing FMCSA fines and penalties. HUB Transportation experts help you achieve high safety ratings through safety assessments and in-depth training programs as well as providing ways to reduce the cost of fleet insurance.