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FMCSA developing brand new test for new truck companies!

Written by Steve Gursten Posted April 15th, 2014

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration looking for feedback on knowledge testing to acquire a DOT number before a new motor carrier can begin operating

DOT numbers

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently introduced a new idea to test actual trucking companies before they open – not just the truck drivers applying for a CDL.

That’s right. The FMCSA intends to develop a knowledge test for any entity seeking a new DOT number. This would also include brokers and freight forwards. This new testing requirement is included in the latest draft of the new highway bill.

The details for the preliminary idea still have to be ironed out. But as a safety advocate and a truck attorney, I believe this is very promising. Imagine how useful it could be to test trucking companies themselves. Imagine the positive impact this could have in preventing dangerous trucking companies from ever getting on the road and taking away all risk of an accident being caused. Testing truck companies for safety knowledge could also be useful in fighting against chameleon carriers, that may likely be staffed by unsafe management who lack the knowledge (or just don’t care) to operate a safe trucking company.

This proposal draws inspiration from similar programs, such as the National Association of Small Trucking Companies “survival training” program. That initiative has already seen 1,000 people graduate. The Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) also offers training for new carriers, so the FMCSA has some great examples to learn from, and improve upon, as more work is done moving forward.

There is already a great deal of exam material in the form of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR). But industry insiders have suggested expanding beyond the regulations and focusing on the human issues like stress management for drivers, which also have a relationship to safety. They’ve also suggested focusing on specific initiatives, such as CSA scores, which are (obviously) highly relevant to the profession — but not necessarily something you will learn about in the FMCSRs.

As a truck  lawyer, I know that the vast majority of  serious truck accidents are preventable.

The good that this testing could do is exciting. I  hope that the FMCSA follows through with it, and creates a highly effective test to weed out dangerous trucking companies —  before they get a chance to seriously hurt or kill somebody in a preventable crash.

Steven Gursten Photo

About Steve Gursten

Attorney Steven Gursten is president of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association and past president of the American Association for Justice Trucking Litigation Group. He has been named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Leader in the Law" for his efforts to prevent truck accidents and promote national truck safety. Steve was also a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Lawyer of the Year" for a record settlement in a truck accident case. He has received the top reported truck accident jury verdict and top reported truck accident settlement in Michigan for multiple years, according to published year-end compilations of all jury verdicts and personal injury settlements by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. He has been named a "Top 50 Super Lawyer," by SuperLawyers, is listed in Best Lawyers in America, and has been awarded an AV-rating by Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating for legal ability and ethics. Steve speaks to lawyers throughout the country on truck accident litigation. He is a founding member of the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable, head of Michigan Auto Law, and has dedicated his legal career to making our roads safer.
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