MAP-21 Aims to Improve Highway Safety

In May 2012, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) declared 26 busing operations in six states as "imminent hazards to public safety" and shut them down. These operations included one ticket seller, three bus companies in the process of obtaining authority to operate, nine legitimately operating bus companies, and 13 bus companies continuing to operate despite previously being ordered to stop.

During a year-long investigation, federal investigators found multiple safety violations in the 26 operations, including uninspected and unrepaired vehicles, driver qualification violations, drivers without commercial driver's licenses (CDLs) and insufficient drug and alcohol testing of drivers.

FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro said, "The egregious acts of these carriers put the unsuspecting public at risk, and they must be removed from our highways immediately, . . . With the help of multiple state law enforcement partners, we are putting every unsafe bus and truck company on notice to follow the safety laws or be shut down."

As evidence of its commitment to highway safety, the FMCSA announced in August 2012 that it would implement additionally aggressive rules over the next two years to keep dangerous carriers and their vehicles off the road. The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) program embodies portions of the FMSCA's strategic plan and aims to create and implement 29 new regulations over 27 months.

MAP-21 went into effect on October 1, 2012, but its provisions will be enacted over several years. Beginning October 1, MAP-21 will change the way the FMSCA rebukes high-risk motor carriers, including higher enforcement penalties against "imminent hazards to public safety." Other provisions include revised standards for commercial motor vehicle grant requests from states, authority to order the return of household goods held hostage and provisions for agricultural exemptions.

MAP-21 requires the FMSCA to create several other provisions over the next two years addressing matters such as electronic hours logging, a 34-hour restart in the hours of service rule, a national registry rule, hazmat safety and rental truck accidents, as well as easier terms for waivers, exemptions and pilot programs. The FMSCA has until April 2014 to prepare a written proficiency exam for those seeking operating authority that must test the applicants understanding of safety regulations.

These and other provisions of MAP-21 aim to prevent commercial motor carrier accidents on our highways and protect innocent lives. Nevertheless, human error cannot be stopped with rules. Accidents will happen and people will be seriously injured or killed by the negligent actions of commercial truck drivers. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a trucking accident, contact an experienced attorney to discuss your situation and your options.