It is perhaps something we don’t see enough of: one arm of the federal government saying another arm might not be doing enough to keep Americans safe. In this case, federal investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board are pointing at the agency in charge of ensuring the safety of commercial trucks and buses.
A Portland TV station reports that NTSB investigators are calling for a probe of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Investigators say the agency has missed clear warning signs that could have prevented truck accidents and bus accidents.
The NTSB made evidence backing its case available online; the data was collected from two tractor-trailer accidents and two bus accidents.
In a March truck crash in Kentucky, an 18-wheeler slammed into the back of an SUV carrying a driver and seven passengers. The SUV exploded in flames after it was shoved into another car.
Six of those inside the SUV died; the other two injured.
An investigation by state police and the NTSB showed the trucker in the crash had been on the road for 10 consecutive days, a violation of trucking industry safety regulations.
The truck driver had been trying to cover the violation by keeping two logs: one to show regulators and one for himself and his employer, showing his true hours and days worked.
Here’s where the NTSB says the motor carrier administration fell down on the job, however: FMCSA inspectors had inspected the trucking company just five days before the horrific accident. But the inspection didn’t include a review of trucker logs indicating hours and days on the road.
Red flags should have been noticed in a big rig accident three months later in Tennessee, too, the NTSB says. That’s when a collision involving a commercial truck and eight other vehicles resulted in the deaths of two people in a passenger car.
Again, the trucker involved had violated service-hours regulations. In this case, the motor carrier administration knew of repeated service-hours violations, but allowed the company to continue to send truck drivers out onto the highways.
For those who have been injured or lost loved ones in an accident due to trucker fatigue, no government report will bring solace or needed compensation for medical expenses, lost income and other damages.