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Senate committee blasts Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for failure to protect public on driving hours and drug testing

As an Atlanta trial lawyer handling trucking accident cases throughout Georgia, and occasionally in neighboring states, I watch doings at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) with considerable interest. The news about FMCSA coming out of Washington this week was pretty scathing.

The Senate Appropriations Committee’s Transportation, Housing and Urban Development report on the FMCSA blasted the agency for its failure to put the top priority on safety, expressing “immense frustration.” See reports by Barb Kampbell on TheTrucker.com and by Justin Carretta of Fleetowner.com.

A few key points are:

* “FMCSA has shown a pattern of undermining its safety mission by proposing weak regulations and failing to provide adequate oversight and enforcement of existing regulations.”

* Regarding the Hours of Service rule, “the rules that FMCSA has proposed fail to achieve maximum safety benefits, and in some instances may undermine safety … clear and consistent regulations are critical to the industry, so that they can manage operations in a compliant way; FMCSA has not provided that consistency.”

* In the area of drug testing, investigators from the Government Accountability Office found that 22 of 24 drug testing centers failed to follow sample collection protocols. In some instances, drivers fail drug tests at one location and are simply transferred to another area to continue driving.

* A 2001 National Transportation Safety Board recommendation to FMCSA that it take action to prevent medically unqualified drivers from operating commercial vehicles has not been satisfied.

Ken Shigley in Atlanta is a truck accident trial lawyer. A former chair of the Southeastern Motor Carrier Litigation Institute, this year he has been a seminar speaker for the Interstate Trucking Litigation Group of the American Association for Justice and the Association of Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America. Secretary of the State Bar of Georgia, he is a Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy and a Master of the Lamar Inn of Court at Emory Law School. He handles tractor trailer, dump truck, cement truck, straight truck, log truck and tour bus accident cases in all areas of Georgia, from Trenton to Darien, and from Dawsonville to Demorest.