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6/11/2003
SPECIAL REPORT: FMCSA seeks enforcement authority over motor carrier officials

At a June 10 Senate hearing, FMCSA Acting Administrator Annette Sandberg said improvements were needed to boost the agency's limited authority over motor carrier officials who exhibit continual disregard of safety management practices.

"We find a few motor carrier managers that order, encourage and tolerate widespread regulatory violations. When caught, they declare bankruptcy, rename the motor carrier and reshuffle the managers' titles, sell its assets to a pre-existing shell corporation owned and managed by the same people, or otherwise attempt to evade the payment of civil penalties or obscure the identity of the motor carrier and, thus, its safety record.

"These individuals perpetuate a casual indifference to public safety. Although the total number of such officials is small, their actions create a risk disproportionate to their numbers," Sandberg said.

Sandberg spoke before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation, which is considering recommendations for FMCSA's reauthorization, including the administration's legislative proposal, known as the Safe, Accountable Flexible and Efficient Transportation Equity Act of 2003.

Sandberg said FMCSA wants the authority to suspend, amend or revoke the registration of a for-hire motor carrier if any of its officers has engaged in a pattern or practice of avoiding compliance or concealing non-compliance with federal motor carrier safety standards.

"This provision is intended to address those few motor carrier officers who have shown unusual and repeated disregard for safety compliance and would be used only in the most serious cases." Sandberg said.

--by Dick Larsen, senior editor

Dick Larsen can be reached at dlarsen@landlinemag.com.

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