Rockefeller challenges FMCSA's 'lax oversight' of cross-border program

By Jami Jones, senior editor | Monday, October 31, 2011

The early days of the cross-border pilot program has one lawmaker concerned about the apparent “lax oversight” of the program and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s commitment to a safe and transparent program.

Sen. John D. Rockefeller, D-WV, sent a letter to Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood detailing what Rockefeller sees as missteps by the agency from the onset of the program.

“I am deeply concerned about what appears to be the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s lax oversight of the cross-border program,” Rockefeller wrote. “Specifically, two recent events in the FMCSA’s administration of the program leave me with serious questions about whether the agency is giving applicants adequate level of scrutiny.”

The letter details FMCSA’s failure to detect problems with the safety records, a history of canceled insurance, and the questionable ability to meet emission requirements of the first applicant to pass the Pre-Authority Safety Audit, Grupo Behr.

“Despite these red flags, FMCSA was prepared to approve Grupo Behr’s application until public safety advocates pointed out the carrier’s unsatisfactory record to the agency,” Rockefeller wrote.

“Unfortunately, this instance was not a lone case of concern.”

The letter questions why FMCSA granted what is now permanent operating authority to Transportes Olympic based on a three-year old compliance review, which noted several safety violations “that should have prompted additional scrutiny.”

Rockefeller contends that any motor carrier operating in the program should remain under provisional authority until the agency can determine the safety performance of the carrier “as it stands today.”

The lawmaker also pressed LaHood for FMCSA to increase the transparency in the program to allow for more public participation in the review process of the cross-border program, saying that would “elevate public confidence” that the carriers are meeting all requirements.

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