Are You Following The Rules Set By The FMCSA? You Really Should Be

Justin Christensen |

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Recently, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) charged a Florida trucking company for violating multiple critical safety regulations. The fleet of 33 truck-tractors was “declared an imminent hazard to public safety” and immediately shut down.

As fleet owners, running a successful business is not based on operations and finances alone. It is also based on the law. If compliance has taken a back seat in your day-to-day grind, it may be time to look in your rear-view mirror.

Here’s what you need to know:

Why Following FMCSA Rules Is Important

FMCSA Acting Administrator Scott Darling III summed up this latest Florida investigation in two short statements. “Complying with federal safety regulations for commercial truck and bus companies is critical because in an instant, a seemingly minor infraction can result in a needless crash with tragic consequences. Our message is this: companies that choose to run outside the law and put the public at risk will be put out of business.”

You’ve worked hard to grow your fleet to where it is today. Adhering to < a href="rail-transport-facing-new-regulations-mean-highway-fuel-transport/">regulations and staying current with updates is like a form of protective insurance—it will help to save time and money, and it will also bring peace of mind knowing your business is on the right track.

FMCSA Rule Updates

As with many agencies and government organizations, new rules, regulations and mandates are always being implemented and changes to existing ones are ongoing. Here is a summary of some of the latest updates.

  • MAP-21 Transportation of Agricultural Commodities – Covered farm vehicles (CFVs) are newly defined by size, hauling distance and type of cargo. Any motor carrier transporting agricultural commodities or supplies are exempt from the “Hours of Service” rule and radius has been expanded to 150 air-miles.
  • Hours of Service – Maximum workweek for truck drivers has been reduced to 70 hours from 82. If that is reached within one week, work can resume if the driver rests for 34 consecutive hours, including two nights. One half-hour break must be taken within the first eight hours of a shift.
  • Medical Certificates – Physical exams for all commercial drivers must now be completed by a medical professional listed on the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners. If a driver’s practitioner is not on the eligible list, he or she must choose one that is.
  • Safety Review for New Entrants – Must be completed within one year of commencing operations, instead of 18 months, as previously required.
  • Unauthorized Operations – Operating without registration or outside the scope of registration can result in a truck or the entire company being shutdown by the agency.

FMCSA Penalties

If you hate getting parking tickets, then you don’t want to receive an FMCSA fine. In the last year, several fine amounts have increased for a number of violations. Here are a few:

  • Reporting and record keeping requirements – increased from $500 to $1000
  • Registration requirements – jumped from $500 to $10,000
  • Wilfully violating rules – up to $5,000 for a first incident and $7,000 for a second
  • Transporting hazardous material – no longer capped at $20,000, now ranges from $20,000 to $40,000
  • Hazmat violations resulting in severe injury or death – almost doubled from $100,000 to $175,000

No business owner sets out to have his or her company thrust into the national spotlight under detrimental circumstances. Be safe and be smart by investing the necessary time and resources needed to meet operational, maintenance and regulatory compliance.