oversight

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Program: Not Yet Achieving What the Congress Wanted

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1977-05-16.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                                                      5-64iIj7

REPORT TO kIiE CONGRE?i!i

BY THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL
OF THE UNITED STATES
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THEFEDERAL
MOTOR CARRIER SAFETY
PROGRAM: NOT YET
ACHIEVING
WHAT THE CONGRESS WANTED
           Federal Highway Administration
             Department   Of Transportation
                           Highway safety has increased
                           since 1966. But in 1977
                           the Federal motor carrier
                           safety program  had Itot
                           been improved   as much as
                           the Congress wanted.     Prob-
                           lems which raised congres-
                           sional concern in 1966 still
                           exist.

                           In 1975, for example,
                           45,000 people died in traf-
                           fic accidents. Trucks and
                           buses were involved   in
                           about 20 percent of these
                           deaths.

                           Over one-third  of the
                           54,800 trucks and buses
                           inspected by Federal per-
                           sonnel during 1974 and
                           1975 were unsafe and taken
                           off the road until repaired.

                           CED-77-62




                                                MAY         16,   1977
                        COMPTROLLER      GENERAL       OF      THE   UNITED   STATES
                                       WASHINGTON,      D.C.     20548




B-164497(3)




To the President of the               Senate and the
Speaker of the House of               Representatives
        This report      identifies       and describes        factors     limiting
the effectiveness          of the Department          of Transportation's            pro-
gram to establish          and enforce       safety     standards      for interstate
motor carrier       operations.         It also discusses          the Department's
efforts     since 1966 to (1) address              the safety      problems       which
have raised       congressional        concern,      (2) make sure that Federal
motor carrier       safety      requirements       are followed        and enforced,
and (3) coordinate           its work with State agencies                conducting
related     programs.       We are making a number of recommendations
to the Secretary        of Transportation            and the Congress for im-
proving     the effectiveness          of the motor carrier            safety     program.
     We made our review  pursuant to the Budget and Accounting
Act, 1921 (31 U.S.C. 53), and the Accounting   and Auditing  Act
of 1950 (31 U.S.C. 67).
       We are sending   copies of this    report to the Director,
Office    of Management and Budget,    and to the Secretary    of
Transportation.




                                                     Comptroller   General
                                                     of the United   States
COMPTROLLER GENERAL'S              THE FEDERAL MOTOR CARRIER SAFETY
REPORT TO THE CONGRESS             PROGRAM: NOT YET ACHIEVING WHAT
                                   THE CONGRESS WANTED
                                   Federal    Highway Administration
                                   Department     of Transportation
       DIGEST
       ------
       In 1966 the Congress       transferred      responsibil-
       ity for establishing       and enforcing       safety
       standards   for interstate       commercial     trucks
       and buses from the Interstate          Commerce Com-
       mission   to the Department        of Transportation
       to increase    the effectiveness       of the program.
       Although  highway safety    has been increasing,
       45,000 people died in traffic     accidents      in
       1975 and many more were seriously       injured.
       Trucks and buses were involved      in about 20
       percent  of accidents   resulting   in deaths.
       Nearly     11 years after         the transfer,    the Depart-
       ment of     Transportation          still  has not brought
       Federal     motor carrier         safety   to the level    the
       Congress     wanted.       Situations      causing   congres-
       sional     concern    in 1966 still        exist.
       --In    1966 the Interstate      Commerce Commission
           was severely    handicapped    by the limited
           number of accidents      it could investigate.
           Today the Department       of Transportation's
           Bureau of Motor Carrier       Safety    investigates
           fewer accidents     than the Commission         did.
           (See p. 7.)
       --Eleven     years ago the leading           cause of
          driver    errors   resulting     in accidents      was
          fatigue.       The Commission      inspected    too
          small a number of drivers,            about 2 percent,
          to combat this problem.            The problem     is
          still    severe.     Yet, in 1975, the Bureau in-
          spected     less than 1 percent        of the esti-
          mated 4 million       interstate      drivers.     (See
          P* 7.)
       --In     1966 the ratio     of commercial    vehicles       to
           Federal   safety    investigators     was about
           21,700 to 1, and the Commission           inspected
           about 3 percent       of these vehicles.       In 1975
           the ratio    was 32,500 to 1 and the Bureau
           inspected    less than 1 percent       of all    inter-
           state   commercial     vehicles.    (See pp. 8 and 9.)
                                    i                             CED-77-62
--In      1966 the Congress considered                 the Commis-
    sion"s      staff     too small to conduct motor
    carrier       safety     operations.        The 158 author-
    ized positions           did not afford         a reasonable
    opportunity         to scrutinize        carriers'      opera-
    tions    frequently.           In 1977, 234 positions
    are budgeted          for the Bureau of Motor Car-
    rier    Safety.         However,     the Bureau's       re-
    sponsibilities           have expanded to include
    new assignments            in cargo security          and motor
    carrier      noise enforcement           as well as in-
    creased emphasis on hazardous                  materials
    safety.        The Bureau estimates             that if its
    staff    worked exclusively             on safety      surveys
    at carriers'          terminals,       15 to 20 years
   would be needed to inspect                 every inter-
    state    carrier        and shipper.        (See p- 10.)
In addition,       in view of the limited           accident
data being obtained,            the continuing      infre-
quency of safety          inspections,       and the high
ratios    of trucks       taken out of service          after
inspection,     little       assurance     exists   that most
motor carriers         are operating       in compliance
with Federal       safety     regulations.
NEED FOR BETTER ------__
----------              METHOD OF SELECTING
CARRIERS
---1------------ FOR SAFETY SURVEYS------
Since the Bureau considers                   safety   surveys    of
carriers'        terminals      to be its most important
field     activity,       it should' improve the method
used to select          carriers       for inspection.          With
the ratio        of carriers        to investigators         at
1,300 to 1, the Bureau should establish                       a
system to quickly            identify        motor carriers
with the poorest            safety     records.       A system
capable      of classifying           carriers      by types of
violations         and accidents         would be an effec-
tive basis for directing                 the investigators'
limited      time.
The Bureau's      practice      of using some staff         on
initial   inspections        of carriers      or inspecting
carriers    not surveyed        within    6 years has some
merit.      However,      in view of the Bureau's
mission--   reducing      accidents     caused by com-
mercial   vehicles --and        its limited     staff,    its
main effort      should be directed         to the known
high-risk     elements      of the industry.


                                ii
NEED FOR TIMELY AND
----------             MORE EFFECTIVE ACTION
                ------T--P            ----_-
AGAINST VIOLATORS OF SAFETY REGULATIONS
The Bureau also needs a more effective          en-
forcement   program to increase   commercial      motor
carrier   compliance  with safety  regulations.
Its program has been handicapped      by
--a      lack of systematic           procedures      for   develop-
      ing cases suitable        for      enforcement,
--failure     to establish            time frames for        process-
    ing civil   enforcement             cases, and
--assessment       of low penalties.
In view of the limited          number of enforcement
cases begun by Bureau investigators            and the
number of cases subsequently          dropped by re-
gional   counsels       and the Department   of Justice,
the Bureau may have to establish           specific
criteria    identifying       when and how to develop
enforcement     cases.
In many past cases which were prosecuted,                the
Bureau imposed only minimum civil             penalties
after    lengthy    proceedings.    This combination
of low penalties        and lengthy   processing       does
little     to discourage     future violations.         En-
forcement      cases must be processed        quickly,
and more vigorous        use must be made of civil
penalties.
Also,     the Bureau's        practice     has been only to
cite     a driver      for failure       to have, or prop-
erly maintain,           a daily    log.     This has had two
results.        First,     it encourages        a driver    who
wishes to drive           excessive      hours not to main-
tain a log.           Second,    it reduces      a driver's
risk     of being removed from work.                 The Bu-
reau's      practice      seems unreasonable          because the
log is important            in determining       fatigue,    which
contributes         to many accidents.
The maximum amounts of crimina.1           fines   for
safety  regulation     violations      have not been
revised   since 1957 and are now seriously              out
of line with fines       for violations        of other
Federal   regulations.
Also, under the 1935 Motor Carrier      Act
(49 U.S.C. 301 --et seq.), the Bureau's     civil
                              iii
penalties        are not applicable            to private       car:
riers    of property          who fail      to file     accident
reports      or to common carriers               who fail     to keep
equipment        in good repair.            Extending      the Bu-
reau's     civil      penalty     authority        under the 1935
act to cover these carriers                   and all motor car-
rier    safety      violations       could promote more ef-
fective      enforcement        of safety        requirements.
BETTER FEDERAL AND STATE
COOPERATION NEEDED FOR MORE
EFFECTIVE SAFETY REGULATION
Federal    and State coordination        of motor car-
rier   safety    activities      varies widely  and, in
most cases,      falls      far short of what is attain-
able.     Although       the Bureau emphasizes   cooper-
ation,    much more needs to be done.
Since the Federal            motor carrier      safety    pro-
gram does not provide             funding    to the States,
no effective         incentive      to promote     increased
cooperation        from the States        exists.      The Bu-
reau, however,          can improve its operations
through     better      use of available        State infor-
mation.
RECOMMENDATIONS
Significant      improvements     in the operations       of
the Bureau of Motor Carrier            Safety    are pos-
sible.      GAO is recommending        a number of ac-
tions    the Department     should take to improve
the management of the program.               (See pp. 16, 28
and 33.)      In addition,     GAO is recommending
that the Congress provide           the Bureau with
additional      authority   to enforce       the Federal
motor carrier       safety  regulations.
 If the Congress still        wants the Federal     motor
 carrier    safety   program improved      to the level
 envisioned      in 1966, it should take action        to
 strengthen      the program.     The following   are
.several    options   which the Congress could
 choose from:
--Increase      Bureau resources          for performing         im-
    portant    safety activities,           such as safety
    surveys.



                               iv
--Develop       a program of positive     financial
   incentives       to encourage  the .States     to en-
   force State laws and regulations            that are
   similar      to the Federal   motor carrier      safety
   regulations.
--Enact   a combination      of increased     Bureau    em-
   phasis  and positive      financial    incentives     to
   the States.
The Department    agreed with all of GAO's rec-
ommendations   and described    actions   taken or
planned   to implement   the recommendations.
(See pp. 16, 28, and 33.)




                            V
                             Contents
                             e--------s
                                                                       Page
                                                                       _---
DIGEST                                                                   i
CHAPTER
   1      INTRODUCTION                                                   1
              Bureau responsibilities                                    1
              Bureau operations                                          3
              Scope of review                                            3
   2      PROGRESS OF FEDERAL MOTOR CARRIER SAFETY
            REGULATION                                                   5
              Accident      history                                      5
              Responsibility          for motor carrier       safety
                 transferred        from ICC to increase
                 program effectiveness                                   6
              Program progress                                           6
                    Accident      data collection        and inves-
                       tigations
                    Driver     safety
                    Commercial        vehicle   inspections
                    Frequency       of terminal     inspections
                    Improving       cooperation     with other
                       agencies                                         10
                    Expanding       program resources        and re-
                       search efforts                                   10
              Conclusion                                                11

   3      NEED FOR BETTER METHOD OF SELECTING CARRIERS
            FOR SAFETY SURVEYS                                          13
              Safety   survey selection  procedures                     13
              Motor carriers   with poorest    safety   rec-
                ords not surveyed                                       14
              Conclusions                                               16
              Recommendation   to the Secretary      of
                Transportation                                          16
              Agency comments and our evaluation                        16
   4      NEED FOR TIMELY AND MORE EFFECTIVE ACTION
            AGAINST VIOLATORS OF SAFETY REGULATIONS                     18
              Criteria      needed to identify           and process
                 enforcement      actions                               ia
                     Enforcement      cases initiated                   19
                     Enforcement      procedures                        19
                     Processing    times                                21
              Assessment      of low fines         and pen-
                 alties     may limit      effectiveness
                 of enforcement         actions                         22
CHAPTER                                                                     Page
                                                                            ----
                    Collection      of penalties                             23
                    Carrier     compliance     after    enforce-
                       ment action                                           23
                    Driver     compliance                                    24
                 Limited     enforcement      authority                      25
                 Bureau legislative         proposals                        26
                 Conclusions                                                 26
                 Recommendations         to the Secretary        of
                    Transportation                                           27
                 Recommendation        to the Congress                       28
                 Agency comments                                             28

       5   BETTER FEDERAL AND STATE COOPERATION NEEDED
             FOR MORE EFFECTIVE SAFETY REGULATION                            29
               Cooperative        agreements                                 29
               Limited      use of State data                                30
               Comparison       of State and Federal    programs
                  and resources                                              31
               Limited      coordination                                     32
               Bureau efforts          to improve State coordina-
                  tion                                                       32
               Conclusions                                                   33
               Recommendation          to the Secretary of Trans-
                  portation                                                  33
               Agency comments                                               33
       6   OVERALL CONCLUSIONS, RECOMMENDATION T.0 THE
             CONGRESS, AND AGENCY COMMENTS                                   34
               Conclusions                                                   34
               Recommendation to the Congress                                35
                 Agency      comments                                        35
APPENDIX
       I   Letter  dated April     4, 1977, from           the    Assist-
              ant Secretary    for Administration,               Depart-
             ment of Transportation                                          36
  II       Principal       officials     responsible     for adminis-
              tering      activities     discussed     in this report        41

                                   ABBREVIATIONS
                                   -----m----e
ICC        Interstate        Commerce Commission

GAO        General      Accounting      Office
                                      CHAPTER 1
                                   INTRODUCTION
        The safe operation      of commercial     motor vehicles       on our
Nation's     highways    has long been a concern        of the Federal
Government.       Federal   regulation    of motor carrier       safety   be-
gan over 41 years ago when the Motor Carrier               Act of 1935,
as amended (49 U.S.C. 301 --et seq.),          authorized     the Inter-
state    Commerce Commission        (ICC) to establish     and enforce
safety    standards    for motor carrier      operations.
        In 1966 the Department         of Transportation        Act (49 U.S.C.
1651 - 1659) transferred          ICC's responsibility          for motor
carrier      safety    and ICC's corresponding        personnel     to the De-
partment       of Transportation.       The Department       assigned    this
responsibility         to its Bureau of Motor Carrier           Safety   within
the Federal        Highway Administration      in April      1967.
BUREAU RESPONSIBILITIES
         The Bureau's   primary  responsibility        is to reduce com-
mercial     vehicle   accidents  and to decrease         fatalities,          injur-
ies, and property        losses.   It does this     through          a national
regulatory      and enforcement   program covering          motor carriers
in interstate       and foreign  commerce.      Additional           responsi-
bilities     the Bureau has been given since 1967 include
       --enforcing      regulations      for the      safe labeling,      marking,
          packaging,      and transporting      of     hazardous     materials     by
          interstate     motor carriers      and      shippers    (Hazardous     Ma-
          terials    Transportation       Act (49      U.S.C. 1801));
       --enforcing       motor carrier  noise standards             (Noise    Con-
          trol    Act   of 1972 (42 U.S.C. 4901-4918));              and
       --promoting   carriers'         cargo security        programs     (Execu-
          tive Order 11836,         Jan. 27, 1975).
         Interstate     motor carriers        subject  to the Federal    Motor
Carrier       Safety  Regulations        (49 C.F.R.   Parts 390 - 396) l/
are classified         as either      (1) for-hire    carriers   of property
and pas-sengers       or (2) private        carriers   of property.    For-hire
carriers       are further     classified      as common carriers,     contract


i/Hereinafter       referred  to as the safety     regulations.          In ad-
   dition,     all references   to motor carriers,       unless     otherwise
   noted,     will  apply to interstate    motor carriers       which are
    subject    to the Federal   motor carrier    safety     regulations.

                                          1
carriers,         and exempt carriers.               These common carriers                serve
the general          public,      while Icontract         carriers       serve one per-
son or a limited              number of persons           under contract.              Inter-
state      for-hire       carriers,       except those specifically                   exempted
(such as Icarriers             transporting         selected       agricultural          com-
modities),          are required        to obtain       operating        permits       and
certificates           from ICC and are generally                  referred       to as ICC
authorized          carriers.        The private        carriers        of property         trans-
port their          own commodities          and are not required               to obtain
ICC operating            authority.        ,In addition,         the safety         regula-
tions     also apply to a* small number of carriers                           of migrant
workers       and foreign-based            carriers.
       Commercial   carrier    fleets range in size from one ve-
hiole   to thousands     of vehicles.    The sizes, shapes, and
weights   of the vehioles     also vary widely.
       According     to Federal       Highway Administration          statistics,
in 1974 over 24 million            trucks     and buses (exoluding         school
buses) were registered           in the 50 States        and the District         of
Columbia.       These statistics         generally    include   light      pickup
trucks    or compact vans as well as large               trucks   and buses.
Our review focuses        on trucks       and buses with gross vehicle
weight    ratings--    the maximum recommended weight             of vehicle
plus cargo --of      over 10,000 pounds.           These vehioles        are often
categorized       as commercial       vehicles.
         Many States,         under their        own authority,       conduct motor
carrier      safety      activities.          The States     regulate     the opera-
 tions     of intrastate          carriers,      which generally       operate     in a
municipality         or commercial           zone within     a single     State,     and
 interstate       carriers        operating      through   the State.        In Ifiscal
year 1975 the Bureau estimated                     that between 3.5 and 4 mil-
lion vehicles          (excluding         local    service   and other lightweight
vehicles)       were operating            in intrastate      commerce.      #State
motor carrier          safety      programs      range from those with little
or no resources           to those with resources             greater     than the Bu-
reau’s.
        In fiscal      year 1975 the Bureau reported          that its safety
regulations       applied    to about 3.5 million      interstate      commer-
cial    vehicles    operated    by about 160,000 motor carriers.              As
of December 1976, the Bureau reported             it had verified         the
existence      of about 140,000 interstate        carriers       of record.
The Bureau also reported          that more carriers        were being iden-
tified.
       Under existing   law, all carriers       subject   to Federal
safety   regulations  can be required        to register   with the Bu-
reau to facilitate    their  identification.          However, the Bu-
reau has chosen not to exercise          this authority     because it

                                                2
does not believe          the benefits       are worth the cost.            As a re-
sult,     the Bureau must learn of new carriers                 by ways, such as
observation,        word of mouth, State reports,              accident      investi-
gations,     telephone       directory      searches,   public     complaints         or
inquiries,       roadside      inspections,      and carrier      applications
for ICC operating           authority.
BUREAU OPERATIONS
-----s-v-
         In addition    to its Washington,        D.C., headquarters,       the
Bureau has 79 field        offices   throughout       the United   States.
As of July 1, 1976, the Bureau's            staff     (including   clerical
employees)      totaled   234-- 62 in headquarters          and 172 in field
offices.
        The Bureau primarily      has divided   its operations    into
(1) developing     regulations     for the safe operation      of com-
mercial    motor vehicles      and (2) insuring    that motor carriers
comply with the regulations.
        Regulatory    activity       is conducted       by the headquarters
staff    and generally       involves      developing     a basis for estab-
lishing    or revising       safety     regulations.       The safety    regula-
tions    contain   detailed       requirements        on such matters    as truck
and bus driver      minimum qualifications              and maximum hours of
service;     commercial      vehicle      operational     safety,   inspection,
and maintenance;        and accident        reporting.
       Compliance     activity     is primarily         conducted     in the field
through    road checks of vehicles            and drivers        and investiga-
tions   of the carriers        at their     terminals.         If infractions
are disclosed,      the Bureau tries          to obtain      voluntary      compli-
ance from the carriers.            If this      fails,    certain     legal   ac-
tions   may be undertaken.           In fiscal        year 1975, the average
ratios   of motor carriers         and commercial         vehicles      to the Bu-
reau's    123 field    investigators        were about 1,300 to 1 and
32,500 to 1, respectively.
SCOPE
-------- OF REVIEW
        Our review     focused       on motor carrier         safety      activities
at three levels.           At Bureau headquarters             we interviewed            of-
ficials    and reviewed         policies,       regulations,        practices,         and
procedures      for administering           the Federal       safety      program.
At Bureau regional          and State offices            we interviewed           regional
directors,      regional      counsels,       and safety      investigators            and
examined certain         activity       reports,      carrier    files,      and en-
forcement     records.        Plus, at seven State offices                  we inter-
viewed officials         responsible        for administering           the States'


                                              3
motor     carrier      safety      programs       and examined     program       activity
records      and    reports      to compare        these  programs      with     the Fed-
eral    program.

       The programs       reviewed        were located          in California,
Colorado,    Illinois,       Indiana,        New Mexica,          Ohio,   Wyoming,
and Washington,        D.C.

       We allso      contacted      Washington,          B.C.,   representatives         of
the   American       Trucking      Association         to obtain      their     views.




                                              4
                                         CHAPTER 2

                      -PROGRESS OF FEDERAL MOTOR CARRIER
                                   SAFETY REGULATION
                                            I_-
       Nearly   11 years after         its transfer        from ICC, the Fed-
eral motor carrier        safety     program has not been upgraded                   or
expanded to the level          envisioned       by the Congress.            The De-
partment     of Transportation's           annual budget justifications
since 1968 have continually              reported    that the Bureau's            lim-
ited funding      and staffing       have prevented          the Bureau from
conducting     a balanced      program adequate          to monitor       the op-
erations     of the growing       number of interstate            carriers.         The
Department     and the Highway Administration,                  however,      have
not requested      increased      resources       to fully      address     the con-
gressional     concerns.
ACCIDENT - HISTORY
         Highway safety         has been improving            steadily      since 1966,
when the traffic           fatality        rate for all vehicles            was 5.7
deaths per 100 million                vehicle    miles.       By 1975 that rate
had declined         to about 3.4.            The total      number of traffic            fa-
talities      decreased       from about 56,000 in 1972 to about 45,000
in 1975.        This decrease          was attributed         to such factors            as
the 55 mile per hour speed limit,                       safer vehicles,         and safer
highways.        The Bureau does not know its contribution,                           if
any, to the reduction;                however,     Bureau officials           stated      that
over the years many motor carriers                       had developed        compre-
hensive      programs      for improving         the safety       of their       opera-
tions.       Nevertheless,          45,000 people died in traffic                  acci-
dents in 1975 and many more were seriously                          injured.        The
National       Safety Council          reported      that about 20 percent               of
these deaths         resulted       from 11,140 accidents             involving       trucks
and buses.
       Accident    statistics       indicate      that interstate           commer-
cial vehicles      under the Bureau's           jurisdiction         are still      in-
volved    in many collisions          involving      fatalities,        injuries,
and heavy property          losses.      These vehicles          represent      poten-
tial   safety   problems       to other highway users.
        Because of the way accident             statistics       are kept, we
could not accurately           determine     the accident        and fatality
rates of all      interstate       commercial      vehicles.        Accident    data
published     by ICC, however,         showed that in 1965 interstate
carriers     of property       and passengers,         excluding     private    car-
riers    of property,       reported     36,583 accidents.           These acci-
dents resulted        in 2,050 fatalities;           25,175 injuries;         and


                                              5
$71.1 million       in property    damage.       Interstate      private  car-
riers    of property    did not become subject             to the Federal
accident    reporting     requirements     until      January    1, 1973.
        The latest     accident      data published      by the Bureau
indicates     that in 1974 interstate            motor carriers       of prop-
erty and passengers          reported     26,076 accidents,         which re-
sulted    in 2,506 fatalities;           29,064 injuries;       and $154.1 mil-
lion    in property      damage.      However,    according     to the Bureau,
these figures       are understated         because a significant        number
of interstate       carriers     failed     to report    accidents.
RESPONSIBILITY FOR MOTOR CARRIER
SAFETYTRANSFERRED FROMICC     ~0 -
INCREASE
--        PROGRAM EFFECTIVENESS
                           --
        In 1966 a Subcommittee        of the House Committee      on Gov-
ernment Operations         conducted    hearings l/ on the Federal      mo-
tor carrier      safety    program and other safety    functions.       The
Subcommittee      concluded      that the program would be more ef-
fective     if transferred       from ICC to the new Department      of
Transportation.
       The Subcommittee        envisioned      that the     Department       could
(1) conduct       a reasonable     and broad study         of the entire
accident-prevention        problem;      (2) develop       a comprehensive
promotional       and educational      program:     (3)    help unify       and co-
ordinate     enforcement     actions;     (4) perform        research     into ac-
cident    prevention     as it relates       to driversp        vehicles,     high-
ways, and environment;          and (5) expand the          budget to insure
adequate     staffing    and financing.
        In May 1966 the ICC Chairman expressed      support    for the
transfer    of the motor carrier  safety   program.      He stated
that the ICC could only scratch      the surface    and that the
program should be in the Department       of Transportation       where
it could be expanded to adequately       do the job.
PROGRAM PROGRESS
----
     Each of the following    sections     compares the descrip-
tion of ICC's efforts    in a program area at the time of the
1966 hearings  with the Bureau's     current   efforts.


L/Hearings  on H.R. 13200 before a Subcommittee     of the
   House Committee on Government Operations,    89th Cong.,
   2d Sess. 654 - 662, 799 - 803 (1966).




                                        6
Accident
---7---r-7-- data collection
and investigations
-----------
         The 1966 hearings           stated     that:
         "The Commission's           safety     work, although          creditable,
         is severely       handicapped         by a lack of reliable               and
         meaningful      information         as to the causes of motor-
         carrier    accidents,         particularly        as to the many
         private    carriers.          To obtain      pertinent       facts      rela-
         tive    to the cause of motor-vehicle                  accidents,
         there must be an investigation                  of accidents          in-
         volving    driver     failure,        explosives       and other dan-
         gerous articles,          fire,     and mechanical         defects        or
         poor design."
        In fiscal year 1965, ICC investigated       1,094                     of   the
more than 36,500 motor carrier        accidents  reported.                         It per-
formed 363 indepth     investigations     and 731 general                       investi-
gations.     A/
        The Bureau,        in fiscal     year 1973, investigated           830 of
the more than 31,000 motor carrier                accidents       reported.      It
conducted       303 indepth       and 527 general      investigations.         How-
ever,     in fiscal      year 1975, the Bureau conducted               only 102
indepth      investigations        and 54 general      investigations.         The
Bureau has deemphasized              general  accident     investigations        be-
cause of (1) limited            information    obtained      from the in-
vestigations         and (2) a need to perform           work in other pro-
gram areas --hazardous            materials,   noise control,          and cargo
security.
Driver      safety
            --
         The 1966 hearings           stated      that:
         "Driver    fatigue     is a factor    in many accidents.
         ICC manpower capability          is far too small to afford
         reasonable      opportunity    to scrutinize   and take out
         of service      a sufficiently     high number of drivers
         to produce an awareness          of the need of adequate
         rest."

L/In--investigations                     are thorough      examinations,      with
   accompanying          reports,      intended      to uncover     all the facts
    relating       to the accident.            General   investigations       are
    limited      inquiries,       without      reports,    intended     to obtain
   only the obvious            factual      data concerning       the accident,
    such as date and time.

                                               7
Driver     fatigue    remains a major factor     in commercial      vehicle
accidents.         The Bureau has identified     the driver      as a prin-
cipal    factor     in over 90 percent     of commercial    carrier    acci-
dents.
       Under the safety         regulations,      motor carriers      are re-
sponsible    for seeing that drivers             are qualified.       Drivers
are prohibited      from driving         when ill   or fatigued;      posses-
sing or using narcotics,            amphetamines,      and other dangerous
substances:     or having consumed liquor             within    4 hours of go-
ing on duty.       Failure      to comply with these regulations              may
result    in legal    enforcement        action   by the Bureau against
the carrier     and/or     driver.       (See ch. 4.)
        Maximum driving        and onduty,time      are set according         to
the Bureau's       hours-of-service        rules.     In addition,    drivers
must maintain,        on a prescribed        form, a daily      log showing
their    off-duty     time,    driving   time,    and onduty time during
each 24-period.          Drivers     must retain    these logs for Bureau
inspection.        Drivers     who fail    to comply with the hours-of-
service      rules  are considered       to be highway hazards        and,
when detected,        are immediately        taken out of service       until
rested.
         In fiscal     year 1965, ICC investigators               inspected        46,601
drivers,      or 2 percent       of the estimated         2 million       drivers      in
interstate        commerce, and took 699 drivers               out of service
because of excessive            hours of driving.           During. fiscal        year
1975, Bureau investigators              inspected      27,509 drivers,           or less
than 1 percent         of about 4 million         interstate        drivers,      and
declared      705 out of service.           However,      some of these in-
spected     drivers      could have concealed          excessive       hours of
driving     to avoid being immediately              placed out of service.
The latest        Bureau statistics        on the results         of its road
check activity         indicate     that nearly       one-half      of the drivers
inspected       failed    to prepare      or maintain       their    daily     logs
properly.         (See p. 25.)
Commercial
-----e---s---   vehicle      inspections
        The 1966 hearings          stated       that:
        "Each year less than 3 percent          of the commercial
        vehicles      used in interstate    transportation         are in-
        spected.       Probably   an even smaller     portion      of the
        total    registered     commercial  vehicle      are inspected.
        The condition       of many of the interstate          vehicles
        now inspected       is found unsafe for operation            and
        about one-third        are impounded until       repairs     are
        made.      With over 13 million     commercial       vehicles     in


                                            8
       operation,    a larger   number must be inspected      to
       assure a higher     degree of compliance   with pre-
       scribed    and more uniform    maintenance standards."
        Federal    inspection       activities       are still      quite small.
The ratio      of vehicles      to motor carrier          investigators     in
1966 was about 21,700 to 1; in 1975 it was about 32,500 to
1.    In both fiscal        years 1974-75,         the Bureau inspected          less
than 1 percent        of the estimated          4 million      interstate   com-
mercial    vehicles.        Records show that over one-third               of the
54,812 trucks        and buses inspected           by the Bureau during          that
time were considered          highway hazards           and were immediately
taken out of service          until      repaired.
       Information   was not available       on the States'          inspec-
tion work on the estimated      4 million      registered        intrastate
trucks     and buses classified   as commercial        vehioles.         How-
ever,    the number of commercial     vehicles      inspected        in fiscal
years 1974-75 by the seven States          in our review         ranged from
none in Wyoming to over 600,000 in California.
       The risks    posed by large      commercial      vehicles  to other
highway users remain high.            Consider,    for example,     that the
probability     of a fatality      oocurring     in a collision     between
a lightweight     truck    (under 10,000 pounds)         and a car is 8
times greater     than in a collision         between two cars.        Plus,
the probability      of a fatality      occurring     in an aocident      be-
tween a car and a large         truck    (10,000   pounds or more) is 10
times as great.
Frequency
---w-w--      of-----w----
                    terminal    inspections --
       The 1966 hearings          stated    that:
       "There are more than 119,000                  motor carriers       of
       record subject         to compliance          with ICC safety        regu-
       lations.      There is an urgent              need for periodic          ex-
       amination     of their      compliance          with the safety        reg-
       ulations     and their      safety   of       operation.      Present
       ICC staff     limitations       prevent         this   as frequently
       as is necessary          to assure a         reasonable     degree of
       compliance."
         In fiscal     year 1966, ICC conducted            general     inspections,
or safety       surveys,      at the facilities         of 6,855 carriers        to
determine       their    overall      compliance    with the Federal        safety
regulations.          ICC also performed          special    inspections       of 90
carriers      to determine         their   compliance     with Federal      hazard-
ous materials         regulations.
        During fiscal     year 1975, the Bureau conducted           safety
surveys     of only 4,844 carriers.          Due to the increased        empha-
sis placed on the safe transportation              of hazardous     mat-
erials,     the Bureau also conducted         5,971 hazardous      materials
inspections       during   the same period;      however,  Bureau inves-
tigators      arranged   to have most of these special          inspections
coincide      with their     safety surveys.
       The Bureau,       in 1975, reported       that if all its profes-
sional   staff     worked exclusively       on safety       surveys     it would
take 15 to 20 years to contact             every interstate          carrier    and
shipper.       Other   problems   limiting     the   effectiveness         of the
Bureau's    safety     surveys   activity    are discussed         in chapter     3,
Improving     cooperation      with
                             ----I_   other     agencies
                                                       --
        Regarding     Federal     and State cooperative        efforts     in
matters    relating       to highway and motor carrier          safety,      the
Subcommittee       report    stated:
      "There is a great need for State and local                 author-
       ities   to adopt uniform        regulations      to the fullest
       extent,    to join    in their     enforcement,       and to es-
       tablish    lines    of communication        so that all agen-
       cies concerned       with highway safety         will   understand
       at least     the basic precautions          which must be taken
       in dealing      with dangerous      commodities.        Public    Law
       89-170 is designed         to provide     improved     Federal-
       State cooperation        in this area."
      Although    some progress      has been made--the         Bureau has
cooperative    agreements    within    all 50 States        and the District
of Columbia --cooperation       varies    from State to State,         and,
in most casesp falls      far short of what is attainable.              Also,
the Bureau has not fully        used the results         of work performed
by State agencies     to supplement       the efforts       of its staff.
The most evident     management problems         involve     the exchange
of data on work activities          and accidents.         (See ch. 5.)
wanding     program resources
and research    efforts
        Finally,      in 1966 the Subcommittee           believed   that ICC's
manpower and funding         were far too small to afford              a reason-
able opportunity         to scrutinize       carrier     operations    as fre-
quently     as necessary.        In fiscal      year 1966, about 158 au-
thorized      positions    and $1.3 million          were used to carry out
ICC's basic motor carrier             safety    functions.

                                           10
        In fiscal years 1968 through       1976, the Highway Adminis-
tration    spent an average of $4.2 million        yearly  for activi-
ties of the Bureau and authorized          it to have an average of
202 positions.     The fiscal    year 1977 authorization        provides
the Bureau $6.9 million       and 234 positions.       However,    as
stated    on page 1, Bureau responsibilities        also have in-
creased.
        The Bureau's   research      into safety     factors          relating       to
commercial    drivers    and vehicles       did not begin           until      1971.
Since then, an average of 3 studies              have been          initiated
annually    and 11 studies      costing     $1.2 million           have been com-
pleted.     The Bureau's    limited      research    effort         has led to the
following    problems.
       ,-The Bureau has delayed         major rulemaking        and denied
         petitions      for rule changes because it lacked              adequate
         data upon which to justify          revisions.       For example,
         the Bureau considers        the driver       to be a principal
         factor    in over 90 percent       of accidents      involving      com-
         mercial     vehicles.    It suspects       that driver     fatigue
          is a major contributor        to many of these accidents            and
          that a revision      of the hours-of-service          regulations,
         which are based on a 1940 study,              may be warranted.
         Research in this area, however,              has been conducted
         only on a fragmented        basis since 1971.
      --The Bureau lacks timely,             specific,        and reliable         re-
         search information          to support      its positions          on impor-
         tant safety      issues.      For example,         legislation        permit-
         ting increased        truck    sizes and weights            on the Inter-
         state   System was signed into law on January                      4, 1975
          (23 U.S.C. 127).          The Bureau supported             the position
         that no undue safety          hazards would result              from rais-
         ing the basic maximum allowable                weight       for trucks        us-
         ing interstate        highways.      Yet in June 1975, the High-
         way Administration          implemented       a research        project       to
          (1) determine      if the increased          size and weight           limits
         of trucks     presents      any significant          safety     problems
         and (2) identify         and evaluate       solutions         to the pro-
         blems.
CONCLUSION
uI_-
       The Department    of Transportation      has not upgraded       the
Federal   motor carrier     safety    program to the level     envisioned
by the Congress.      Although     the fatality    rate for motor car-
riers   is falling,   trucks    and buses are still     involved     in



                                           11
about 20 percent     of all motor vehicle  fatalities.                         Further-
more, the situations     which caused congressional                        concern    in
1966 still  exist.     They include
       --lack    of reliable       and meaningful           information         about    the
           cause of motor       carrier  accidents,
       --limited      capability     to insure       that      drivers      are    observ-
           ing the    Federal    hours-of-service             rules,
       --limited      inspections      of motor      carrier       vehicles,
       --infrequent       reviews    of motor       carrier       safety       operations,
           and
       --limited    cooperation  and coordination       between                   Federal
           and State motor carrier   safety     agencies.
        In view of the limited            accident     data obtained,    the con-
tinuing     infrequency      of safety       inspections,    and the high
ratio     of trucks     taken out of service           after inspection,     lit-
tle assurance        exists    that most motor carriers           are complying
with Federal       safety    regulations.




                                          12
                                          CHAPTER
                                          ----_---_ 3
                    NEED FOR BETTER METHOD OF SELECTING
                    ------------------------m----m-----
                           CARRIERS FOR SAFETY SURVEYS
                           -----------------------m--m
        The Motor Carrier      Act, as amended, gives the Bureau
authority    to inspect    motor carriers'       facilities     and records
and to investigate       suspected   violations        of the law.    The
act also imposes a corresponding            duty on carriers       to allow
inspections     of their    records  and equipment.
       The Bureau collects            considerable       data on the carriers'
safety     operations      from sources       such as road checks,            safety
surveys,     accident      reports,      and  State    inspections.          Yet,    it
has no procedure         for systematically          analyzing       the data to
(1) assess the safety            risks    associated      with each segment of
the industry        (for example,       vehicles     or drivers),         (2) assess
compliance      by carriers,         and (3) direct       investigation         activ-
ities    to the carriers         with the most violations              and accidents.
      Safety    investigators      rely on their     memory to keep track
of carrier    violations      and accidents     and use this   knowledge
as a primary      basis for determining        which carrier   terminals
to survey.      As a result,     investigators      do not always select
motor carriers       most in need of safety        surveys.
SAFETY SURVEY SELECTION PROCEDURES
-----a----------------------------
          A safety      survey     is an audit          of a motor carrier's               opera-
tions      to (1) determine           the degree of compliance                   with safety
regulations,          (2) advise        the carrier           of its safety         responsi-
bilities,         and (3) provide          educational           and technical         assist-
ance to carriers            in safety       matters.           During      a survey,       a
safety       investigator        reviews       driver       qualifications,           hours-of-
service,        and daily      logs;      accident        reporting        practices,        and
vehicle        maintenance       policies       and practices.              About half of
the Bureau's          surveys      stem from complaints;                 the remainder
are self-initiated.                Each safety          investigator          in the seven
States       reviewed      was responsible            for the safety            records      of an
average of 1,006 carriers,                   ranging        from 755 carriers            to 1,300
carriers,         of which less than 35 were annually                         surveyed.
        In setting   fiscal  year 1975 plans for its safety      inves-
tigators,     the Bureau first    segregated  the carriers  into
groups according       to the number of drivers   employed.
        Next the plan provided      that,   on the average,       each in-
vestigator      should perform    20 safety   surveys    of carriers       em-
ploying     less than 20 drivers;      23 surveys     of carriers     with
20 to 99 drivers:      and 2 surveys      of carriers    having    100 or

                                               13
more drivers.        however,     Bureau     instructions       did not contain
specific    procedures        for  selecting        motor  carriers     to be sur-
veyed.    Thus,      the investigators          used their      own criteria    in
selecting     carriers      to survey.

MOTOR CARRIERS WITH POOREST
SAFETY R&?6~S’8b~-~b’~
               --------------
         To find      out if investigators                  were selecting         the car-
 riers    with     the poorest           safety      records,       we analyzed       the
safety      survey      selection         procedure         in two States.           We compar-
ed the safety           records        of 16 of the 35 motor              carriers        survey-
ed by three          safety      investigators            in fiscal     year     1975 to the
safety      records       of motor        carriers        of the same size           and general
location       that     were not surveyed               during     that  year.        The cri-
teria     the three         investigators            used to select        carriers        and
the carriers’           safety       records       are summarized        below.


                                                                                       Number of
                                                                                            safety               Number of
                                                                                       violations               accidents
                                                                                     since       pr ior        since    prior
              Criteria         for terminal                            Motor                survey                survey
                 survey                                               carrier          (note       a)            (note   a)
                 ----.-------- selection                              _----              --                       -----

The motor carrier      had not been surveyed                                A                                              0
recently      or had never been surveyed                                    B                                          3
and/or     the safety   investigator       was                              C                                         14
using    the terminal     survey     to train  a                            D
new employee                                                                E               -b/3                     p/o”

The motor      carrier      never     had a terminal                        F                                        b/O
survey                                                                      G                                        E/O
There was a shortage    of travel                      funds                H                                              0
and motor carrier    was nearby

Roadside      checks   showed        the drivers      and                                          5
vehicles      were violating           safety   regu-                                      b/53
lations

The safety    investigator            was going            to                                      0
be in the area of the               motor carrier                                                  0
on other   work                                                                                    0

                                                                                             21:

The investigator            could    not      remember                                            21
why he selected           this    carrier        for survey                                  --

      Total                                                                16                107
                                                                           =                 -

a/Figures        tabulated        by GAO after            reviewing      data   in      each       carrier’s        file       at
-   Bureau     field     offices.

b/Represents    the total            for      fiscal       year     1975 because          the      terminal        had not
- been surveyed    before.

                                                               14
       A limited      review of the Bureau's      files disolosed     24 mo-
tor carriers      that had from 10 to 488 safety        violations,     or
an average of 106 violations          more than the 16 investigator-
selected    carriers.       The types of violations     were generally
the same.       Further,    11 of the 24 motor carriers        were in-
volved   in from 14 to 752 accidents,         or an average of 126
more aocidents        than the 16 carriers    surveyed.
     Following  are three examples comparing    the safety     rec-
ords of the surveyed   carriers with the records   of carriers
not surveyed.
      --A    safety    investigator      selected      as training       locations
         for new investigators           three motor carriers            not re-
         cently     surveyed.       Bureau records        showed that the car-
         riers     had from 0 to 2 safety          violations       and from 0 to
         14 aocidents        since their     previous       survey.      Four other
         motor carriers         had from 14 to 84 safety            violations.
         Plus,     one of the afour carriers           had been involved           in 20
         accidents       since its last      survey.        These four carriers
         also could have been used for training                    purposes.
      --A    safety    investigator          selected      two carriers      because
         their     terminals       had never been surveyed.                These car-
         riers     were brought         to the investigator's            attention    by
         a report      on a roadside          check.       The carriers       had each
         been cited        for four safety          violations       and had no re-
         corded accidents.              Yet Bureau files          contained      rec-
         ords on five other motor carriers                     having    from 10 to
         43 safety       violations.          Plus,     three of the five car-
         riers     had been involved            in from 1 to 19 accidents
         since their         last    survey.
       --A safety      Investigator         selected       a carrier     in the same
          city    as the Bureau's         field    office       because limited
          funds prevented         travel.       This carrier         had only one
          violation      and no aocidents          since the Bureau's          last
          terminal     survey.       Yet, Ifour other carriers             in the
          same city      averaged      76 safety       violations      ranging    from
          22 to 155.        Three of the four carriers                averaged    104
          accidents,      ranging      from 23 to 250, for the same
          period.
        We asked the three saf.ety       investigators         concerned    with
the above examples why the motor carriers                 with poor records
were not selected       for safety    surveys.       One investigator         said
he didn't     have the time or a method of tracking                safety   re-
cords to pick the carriers          most needing       inspection.        Another
investigator      said he had no way of knowing that the motor
carriers     not surveyed   actually     needed a survey more than


                                          15
the ones he selected.     The third              investigator        said that he
didn"t  realize the carriers   not              selected     were    in such bad
shape.
         In September        1976, after      our discussions        with the
 investigators,        the Highway Administration             directed       the Bu-
reau to emphasize            in fiscal     year 1977 conducting           safety   sur-
veys of carriers           which have never been surveyed               or have not
been surveyed         within     the past 6 years.         The Highway Adminis-
tration      expects     this emphasis to improve the safety                   of se-
lected      carriers'      operations      and to reduce their          accident      in-
volvement        by providing       a thorough    understanding         of safety
regulations.
CONCLUSIONS
-----------
        The Bureau should take steps to improve its method of
selecting      carriers       for inspection.          In view of the average
ratio     of carriers       to investigators          (1,300 to l),      the selec-
tion process        should provide           for quick    identification      of the
motor carriers         with the poorest          safety     records.     A system
capable      of classifying         carriers     by types of violations         and
accidents      would be an effective             basis for directing        the in-
vestigator's        limited      time.
       Using a portion     of the Bureau's      resources   on (1) ini-
tial   inspections    of carriers      or (2) inspecting    carriers       not
surveyed     within the last 6 years has some merit.             However,
in view of the Bureau's        mission    and its resources,       we be-
lieve    that the Bureau's     main effort    should be directed         at
the known high-risk      elements     of the motor carrier       industry.
RECOMMENDATION TO
---------------------         THE
SECRETARY           OF   TRANSPORTATION
-------------------e------w
        To improve the management of the motor carrier           safety
program,     we recommend that the Secretary      of Transportation
require    the Administrator      of the Federal  Highway Administra-
tion to develop      an information     system to identify   motor car-
riers    most in need of safety      surveys.
AGENCY COMMENTS AND OUR EVALUATION
-------------------------e------e-
        In comments on this report              (see app. I),      the Department
said its recently          established        Motor Carrier     Census File      is
an initial        step in developing          an automated     capability     for se-
lecting      carriers    in need of inspection.             The Department       be-
lieves     the system will         ultimately      assist   in  identifying      high
risk carriers         as candidates        for inspection,      thereby     maximiz-
ing the impact of the inspection                  process.


                                           16
       Our discussions       with Bureau officials          show that the new
system was conceived          in fiscal    year 1974, and except for the
Census File,      is still      a long way from providing         a centralized
source of timely       and comprehensive        information      on carrier's
safety   status.      Furthermore,      the Bureau has not developed
any target     dates for completing         the system.        We believe     the
Department's      plans to develop        an automated      motor carrier
safety   information       system,    should lead to better        selection      of
the carriers      most in need of inspection;            however,    the Depart-
ment needs to insure          that the system is completed            in a rea-
sonable    time frame.




                                        17
                                       CHAPTER
                                       --------_ 4
                     NEED     FOR TIMELY AND MORE EFFECTIVE
                     -------a-----------a--------------
                          ACTION        AGAINST VIOLATORS OF
                          ---------------------------
                                 SAFETY     REGULATIONS
                                 m----m------------
        The policy        of the Bureau of Motor Carrier                Safety      is to
encourage        voluntary     compliance       with Federal        motor carrier
safety      regulations.        Voluntary       compliance       starts     when the
Bureau gives a motor Carrier                a copy of the safety             regula-
tions.        Formal enforcement         action      is a last      resort.       It is
taken only when the Bureau is convinced                      that nothing         else
will     induce a carrier        to obey the safety            regulations.           The
objectives        of the Bureau's        enforcement       program are to deter
flagrant       violators     of safety       regulations,       discourage        future
violations,         and convince      carriers       to upgrade their          safety
programs.
       We reviewed     the handling     and disposition      of civil  and
criminal    enforcement    cases initiated       by Bureau investigators
in seven States      to determine     the effectiveness        of the en-
forcement    program and to formulate        a basis for commenting
on the validity      and benefits     of attempts      to strengthen   the
Bureau's    enforcement    authority.
       We believe      the Bureau's     enforcement        activities        could be
more effective       if (1) the Bureau developed              specific       criteria
for use in identifying         cases suitable         for enforcement            action
or prosecution,        (2) cases were processed            faster,      (3) the
fines    and penalties     assessed were closer            to the maximum
allowed,     and (4) civil     enforcement       authority        were expanded
to include     all carriers     subject     to the safety           regulations
and all types of safety         regulation       violations         and maximum
fines    for both civil     and criminal       violations         were increased.
CRITERIA NEEDED TO IDENTIFY AND
-------------------------------
PROCESS         ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS
---------------------------
        Enforcement        action    is not initiated         for all Federal
safety     violations       the Bureau detects.            Rather,     individual
investigators          decide whether       to start      an enforcement        action.
If road checks and safety              surveys      show the motor carrier             is
continually         or flagrantly      violating       safety    regulations,        a
safety      investigator        may start     enforcement      action.       The Bu-
reau, however*           has not issued any criteria             indicating       when
it is appropriate           to start     an enforcemegt        action     or any
guidelines        for the timely       processing       of such actions.



                                            18
Enforcement
       ------e-w-- cases   initiated
                                  --
        Wide variances         exist    between the number of safety              vio-
lations      detected     and the number of enforcement               cases initiated
by investigators.             For instance,       in fiscal     year 1973--the
latest     year for which data was available--Bureau                     investiga-
tors detected         over 40,000 safety          violations     during     nationwide
road checks of 22,644 vehicles                 and drivers.        The Bureau does
not maintain        summary data on the number and types of viola-
tions     detected     during     its safety      survey activities;          however,
based on our review of Bureau survey reports,                       numerous safety
violations       are detected        annually.       Quite often      Bureau acci-
dent investigations            also reveal      flagrant     safety    violations      by
carriers      and drivers.          Yet, during       fiscal  years 1973 and
1974 Bureau investigators               developed       only 1,027 cases warrant-
 ing enforcement         action.
       Many cases that Bureau investigators                  prepare     are not ap-
proved by regional         counsels      for referral       or are not accepted
by the Department        of Justice        for criminal      prosecution.         The
Bureau actually       sought enforcement           action    on 886 of the above
1,027 cases.       Examinations        of 1 regional        counsel's      records
showed that 11 of 21 cases submitted                  for review by investiga-
tors in fiscal       year 1975 were closed without               any enforcement
action    because 6 cases were too old,                2 lacked merit,        and
3 were unsatisfactory          for other reasons.             Of the 68 criminal
cases handled      in another       region     in fiscal     years 1973-75,        the
Bureau,    on the basis of regional              counsel    advice,    did not sub-
mit 11 cases for prosecution               and U.S. attorneys         declined     to
prosecute     18 other     cases.
Enforcement       procedures
        When the safety      investigator        thinks    enforcement       action
is necessary,     he collects        evidence      and prepares       a case report
on the carrier's      violations.          The report       and related      evidence
are sent through      the Bureau's         regional     director      to the Highway
Administration's      regional       counsel     for disposition.           The re-
gional    counsel  reviews      the case and decides            which,    if any,
of the following      available       enforcement       actions     is most appro-
priate.




                                           19
                                                   --------   Applicable
                                                                ------PTivaEe-to
           Enforcement        action                      ICC       Exempt
             and    violations
             ----m-----m                           carriers
                                                   ------         carriers
                                                                  -_-----        carriers
                                                                                 ------
Civil    penalties--violations               of
   recordkeeping         and reporting
   requirements                                          X


Cease-and-desist    orders--vio-
  lations    of any requirements                         X


Criminal       prosecution--viola-
   tions      of any requirements
Injunctions      --violations          of   any
    requirements
Denial,   suspension,  or revoca-
  tion of ICC operating     au-
  thority  --violation  of any
  requirements                                           X


         Of the five      types of enforcement       actions    available      to
the Bureau,       it generally        only uses criminal     prosecution
and civil      penalties.       Bureau officials      and regional        counsels
initiate      and conclude      civil     penalty pr0ceeding.s    while crimi-
nal actions      must be referred          to the Department     of Justice.
       Civil
       __------ penalties
       A regional    counsel      reviews     violation       reports      to deter-
mine the appropriateness            for civil      penalty      action     and the
adequacy of legal        support.       During this review             the counsel
considers     the carrier's       size and compliance            history,      the
number and severity         of past violations,            the carrier's         abil-
ity to pay the claim,         and the extent          of evidence         supporting
the case.
        The counsel       begins       the civil     penalty    process    by sending
the carrier       a notice       of    claim for the maximum penalty.              The
notice    advises     the motor          carrier    of the option      to contact
the region      to discuss         a   compromise     on the claim.        The car-
rier    may then negotiate             the claim with the counsel           and the
BureauIs     regional      director.            If an agreement      is reached,      the
carrier    pays the reduced              penalty.     If   not,   the  counsel    either
brings    suit    against      the     carrier     or drops the claim.         Carriers
have generally        agreed to          pay reduced penalties.




                                              20
       Criminal
       -----------c-   prosecution
        Before deciding         that criminal       prosecution     is appro-
priate,      the regional       counsel    reviews     a case report      for legal
support      and considers        the same factors        as in a civil      penalty
case.      In addition,       the counsel       considers     whether   the Bu-
reau's     evidence     shows that the motor carrier              knew the safety
regulations       and willfully       violated      them.
         After    the counsel         decides     a case has merit       and criminal
action      is appropriate,           he sends it to the U.S. attorney                 in
the judicial          district      where the motor carrier            has its home
oflfica.       The U.S. attorney            reviews    the case for the same fac-
tors as the regional               counsel     and decides      the case's     priority
in relation         to other Federal cases on the docket.                    If the
U.S. attorney          decides      the case does not have merit,              he de-
olines      to prosecute.           Cases with merit         are often disposed           of
through       a plea-bargaining           process    similar      to the negotiating
process       used in civil         cases.       The court    has final    say on the
plea-bargaining             arrangements.
         According    to Bureau and other Highway Administration
officials,       they prefer   civil     penalty     over criminal prosecu-
tion to enforce         safety violations        because:
       --Civil   cases        take   less   time    to process       than    criminal
          cases.
       --Primary   responsibility  for handling    civil   cases rests
          with the agency charged    with safety,    while  criminal
          cases  must be handled  by U.S. attorneys.
Processing-m-w
       The Bureau has not developed       ti.me guidelines  for review-
ing and completing     civil  cases.     The Bureau cannot control
processing    times for criminal     cases--they    depend on the work-
load of the U.S. attorneys       and on court dockets.
      We examined the 52 civil         cases and the 98 criminal
cases initiated      in the States     reviewed     and handled   by four
Highway Administration       regional      counsels   in fiscal   years
1973, 1974, and 1975.        We then compared the processing            times
for civil     and criminal   cases.     The processing       time was meas-
ured from the date the counsel           received    a case to the date
when negotiations       were completed      or when the court     rendered
a decision.
       Although    Bureau and Highway Administration        officials
believed     civil  cases were being prosecuted      faster     than
criminal     cases, on the average civil    cases took 353 days                         to

                                            21
process --28 days longer     than the 325-day average for                                      crimi-
nal cases.    The following     schedule shows a breakdown                                     between
criminal   and civil   cases for each regional   counsel.

                            Type            Number
 Regional                    of                of
 counsel
 ----                       cases           cases
                                            --                        Range
                                                                      ---                      Average
                                                                                               -e---m
                                                            ----------(days)-------



      #l                  Criminal               21             35 to 341                        198
                          Civil                  16             61 to 410                        199
      #2                  Criminal                9         116 to 367                           254
                          Civil                   1              (a)                             363
      #3             b/Criminal                   8         105 to 735                           314
                     E/Civil                     11         221 to 481                           307
      #4                  Criminal               60          84 to 897                           381
                          Civil                  24         104 to 1,648                         476


-a/Only      one civil      case processed.
&/Calendar         year    1974-75      cases.
       In one region,  the Bureau regional   director                                    and regional
counsel   took 476 days to process   an average civil                                     case as fol-
lows:
           --172   days    for    the   counsel's       review.
           --304   days    to negotiate          the   amount         of the          claim.
       Delays in processing      civil    cases were directly    attribut-
able to (1) large backlogs         of cases of all types in the coun-
sels'   offices   and (2) problems      in contacting    and arranging
meetings     with carrier  representatives.
ASSESSMENT OF LOW FINES AND PENALTIES MAY
------P-w-------
LIMIT EFFECTIVENESS OF ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS
        Four of the laws the Bureau administers        provide criminal
penalties     for violations.       Criminal penalties  vary under each law.
The penalties       range from a maximum $500 fine and no imprisonment
(Motor Carrier       Act of 1935, as amended) to a $50,000 fine and/or
2 years'     imprisonment     (Noise Control  Act of 1972).
        The Bureau also can assess maximum civil     penalties     of $500
for    some violations  of the motor carrier regulations       (see p. 25)
                                                 22
and an additional       penalty    of $250 each day the violation                  con-
tinues.   Civil     penalties    for each violation   of Federal                 hazardous
materials   regulations       can be as high as $10,000.
        Bureau instructions         provide       that the following       factors
should be considered          in determining          what civil   penalty      to
assess --the    carrier's       size,     ability     to pay, and compliance
record;     the gravity     of the violation;           and the Bureau's        treat-
ment of similar        cases.      The instructions,         however,    do not in-
clude specific       procedures       to guide the Bureau regional              direc-
tors and regional         counsels      in determining       the relative       weight
to be given each factor.
Collection
------me        of penalties
     We reviewed     52 civil cases from             fiscal     years 1973, 1974,
and 1975 and compared civil     penalties              collected     to the maxi-
mum possible   penalties.
          The review was limited to cases involving                the   civil     pro-
visions      of the 1935 Motor Carrier  Act.
       Two of the 52 civil        cases developed      were dropped.
Another   was subsequently        converted    to a cease-and-desist
order for which no monetary           penalty   was assessed.       The maxi-
mum penalty      assessed    by the bureau directors        and regional
counsels    for the 49 completed         cases totaled     about $487,000.
Of this amount, only about $148,000 was collected.                    The pen-
alties   collected      ranged from $375 to $9,000,         averaging    $3,023.
Carrier   compliance       after
GZorcement
        -      action
         In 5 States   we examined Bureau files          on the 28 motor
carriers     which had been subject          to a completed     enforcement
action     in fiscal   years 1973-74 for indications            of voluntary
compliance      with safety     regulations.       The examination        included
analyzing     the nature     and frequency       of the safety     violations.
We found that neither         civil     nor criminal   enforcement        action
promoted     voluntary    safety    compliance     by carriers.
       Of the 28 motor carriers    examined,    18 continued        to vio-
late safety      regulations and were again cited      for the same
offenses    for which they had been previously       fined.       Following
are examples of motor carriers       which continued      violating
safety   regulations.
          --Before    1973 one motor carrier      was fined  $3,000 in two
             criminal   enforcement     cases for requiring     or permit-
             ting excessive     driving    hours and for requiring     or

                                           23
               permitting         drivers        to falsify           daily      logs.        Another
               enforcement          action       in 1973 carried               a civil        penalty       of
               $5,000,       and again         it was for drivers                  falsifying         their
               logs D Later           road checks           disclosed          over      94 violations,
               of which        15 were for          false       logs.        In mid-1975          a safety
               survey      of the carrier             revealed          more than 200 instances
               of drivers         falsifying          their       logs.      Consequently,            in Jan-
               uary     1976 a fourth            enforcement            action       was initiated
               against       this     carrier.

         --The      Bureau    brought        enforcement         action     against         a car-
             rier    several      times      before       1973 for more than 1,000                  in-
            stances        of requiring          or permitting          excessive         driving
            hours      and for      requiring          or permitting        drivers         to fal-
            sify     their    daily      logs.        A 1973 enforcement              case
            brought        a $4,000      fine      against     the motor        carrier         for
            the same types            of violations.             Bureau     files       indicate
            that     since    then,      road checks          have disclosed            161 safety
            violations--        35 for       falsifying        logs.

         --A       September          1973 criminal              action        resulted         in a $2,000
               fine      against        a carrier          for     failing         to maintain           driver
               qualification             files       and requiring               or permitting             driv-
               ers to make false                 entries         in their          daily      log.       A Jan-
               uary      1976 safety            survey       revealed          that      the carrier           had
               used a disqualified                   driver,         used a driver              not physi-
               cally       reexamined,           did not require                 a listing         of traf-
               fic     violations           from drivers,               failed       to maintain           driver
               qualification             files,        required           or permitted            speeding,
               failed        to report          a fatal        accident,           failed       to maintain
               an accident            register,          required           or permitted           drivers
               to drive          more than         10 hours,            required         or permitted
               drivers         to be on duty             more than            70 hours        in 8 days,
               and failed           to require           drivers          to keep daily            logs.
               Another         enforcement           case was initiated                    against       this
               carrier.

Driver
-1-P-P         compliance

        A Bureau      investigator        making       a road check       generally
cites    a driver       when he does not carry              a log or fails           to main-
tain    one properly.            The driver       is usually      allowed       to complete
his trip      but may be subsequently                fined.     Driving       with     logs
showing     excessive        driving     hours      usually   results       in the driver
being    placed     out of service          until      the required       rest     is ob-
tained.

        Since    the Bureau       generally       does not seek enforcement
action     against     individual       drivers,       not maintaining     or in-
accurately       maintaining       driver      logs    is less   of a risk   than
possessing       logs    showing     excessive       driving   hours.


                                                        24
      During  1973 the Bureau put 818 drivers               out of service
because of hours-of-service          violations.         Summary data on 1973
road achecks-- the latest      available       data--shows     that about half
of the 22,463 driver      violations        were Ifor either      not prepar-
ing or not maintaining       driver      logs.
        A review of 1974 and 1975 Bureau road check reports
revealed      that log violations         are still      the most frequently
cited    driver    violations.        Since Bureau road checks             reach
less than 1 percent            of the estimated        4 million    interstate
drivers,      the high incidence         of drivers      without   properly      main-
tained    logs is an indication           that many more drivers             not in-
spected may be driving            while Ifatigued       or otherwise       in viola-
tion of the hours-of-service              regulations.
LIMITED     ENFORCEMENT
               ----c---c---c-----AUTHORITY
        The MotorCarrier         Act of 1535, as amended, provides
several    enforcement      actions     that the Bureau may impose for
violations     of the Federal        motor carrier        safety     regulations.
These enforcement        actions,      however,    either     do not apply to
all types of carriers          and safety      regulation       violations        or
have other serious        limitations.
        For instance,     criminal     penalties       are applicable      to all
violations      by all carriers.        $However, the maximum fines             for
violations      of the Federal      safety     regulations      have not been
revised      upwards since 1957.        While a $500 fine may have been
substantial       in 1957, it is unrealistically             low today.       Con-
sider,     for example,     the Ifact that if a tractor            trailer    combi-
nation     is operated    with a noisy muffler            and defective      brakes,
the maximum fine lfor the defective               brakes is $500 for each
day of the violation          while  the noisy muffler          could subject
the carrier,        under the Noise Control          Act of 1972, to a Ifine
of up to $25,000 each day-- $50,000 each day if it is a sec-
ond conviction.
         While criminal      penalties       may,be assessed         against       all
carriers,      the 1935 act limits           the use of civil         penalties.
These penalties         can only be used lfor violations               of record-
 keeping     and reporting      requirements,         such as failure          to pre-
pare or Ifile      an accident       report,      by common, contract,             and
exempt #carriers         and their     employees.         As a result,       all other
types of violations          by common, contract,            and exempt carriers
and aL1 violations          by private       carriers      of property       are sub-
ject     only to criminal       proceedings.          These violations           inolude
 failure     to keep equipment         in good repair,        permitting        drivers
 to operate      vehicles    in excess of 10 hours without                necessary
 rest,    and operating      a commercial         vehicle    without     a valid       dri-
vers license.


                                             25
       Other available     enforcement    actions--injunctions,            cease-
and-desist     or consent    orders,   and interventions         in ICC pro-
ceedings--   are either    unused or used infrequently             because,
according    to the Bureau,      they are too costly,         require    too
much monitoring,       and take years to complete.
BUREAU LEGISLATIVE          PROPOSALS
                            ---
        The Bureau has submitted       legislative       proposals             seeking
expanded enforcement        authority;    however,      none have             been en-
acted into law.        For example,    in November 1975 the                   President
submitted     to the Congress a proposed           Motor Carrier              Reform
Act l/ that would have considerably              deregulated     the           motor
carrier    industry.      The proposed    act, which was not                  enacted
into law during      the 94th Congress,         would also have               expanded
Bureau authority       to
       --apply     civil    penalties         to all   violations       by all      car-
          riers    and
       --provide     a greater       deterrent  by increasing    maximum
           fines   and penalties        for both civil   and criminal   vio-
          lations.
Bureau and Highway Administration        officials                  believe      ex-
panded civil  penalty  authority     could help                  strengthen       their
enforcement  of safety  regulations.
        Three other units            of the Department           of Transportation--
the Federal         Railroad     Administration,           the Federal     Aviation
Administration,           and the Coast Guard-- have authority                  to apply
civil     penalties       to most safety         violations.         In each of these
units,     officials        said that civil         penalty      was the most fre-
quently     used method to deter              safety     violators.       They also
said it was preferred              over criminal         prosecution      because it
was faster,         less costly,       required       less legal      documentation,
and because civil            penalties      were more readily          accepted      by
violators        than criminal        penalties.
CONCLUSIOE
        The many safety   violations      in relation      to the limited
number of the carriers        and drivers      inspected     each year leads
us to believe     that the Bureau's       policy     of encouraging     voluntary
compliance    has not been effective.            The program has been
handicapped    by (1) a lack of systematic            procedures    .for iden-
tifying    and developing     cases sutiable       for enforcement,
-

L/H 0 R. 10909, 94th Cong.              1st    Sess.   (1975);      and S. 2929,           94th
Cong. 1st Sess.,(1975).

                                              26
 (2) failure      to establish     time frames for processing            civil
enforcement       cases,   and (3) assessment        of low penalties.            In
view of the limited          number of enforcement         cases initiated
by Bureau investigators          and the subsequent         number of cases
dropped by the regional          counsels      and the Department        of Jus-
tice,    it may be necessary         for the Bureau to establish             spe-
cific    criteria     to assist    investigators       in identifying       when
and how to develop         cases suitable        for enforcement      action.
         In many instances,          the Bureau imposes only a minimum
civil     penalty    after    lengthy      processing      time and the carrier
continues       to repeat      its pre-existing        pattern   of violations
of the safety        regulations.          We believe      the combination      of
low penalties        and lengthy        processing     times detracts      from the
objective       of improving        safety    and discouraging      future    viola-
tions.      Consequently,         the Bureau needs to insure           that en-
forcement       cases are processed           as fast as possible        and that
more vigorous        use is made of civil            penalties.
        While greater    penalties    for violators       of safety   regula-
tions     would add to the importance         of complying    with the reg-
ulations,       this may not be enough.        The maximum criminal       and
civil     penalties   for safety   regulation     violations      are now seri-
ously out of line with penalties            for violations      of other Federal
regulations,
        We believe         that extending     the Bureau's       civil     penalty
authority         to cover all carriers         who are now subject            to the
safety      regulations         and all safety    regulation       violations
would promote more effective               enforcement       of safety       require-
ments.        If the Bureau could impose civil               penalties       for all
violations,          it could maintain      a consistent       position        for
handling        similar      cases and not have to process             cases through
the judicial           system unless necessary.
       In addition,       the Bureau's    practice     of only citing     a
driver   for failure        to have or properly      maintain    a daily    log
encourages     a driver       who wishes to drive      excessive    hours
not to maintain       a log.      The Bureau's     enforcement    actions     seem
unreasonable      because the log is important            in determining      fatigue,
which contribute        to many accidents.
RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE
P--_--m
SECRETARY
-----     OF TRANSPORTATION
        To improve the effectiveness    of the              Bureau's   enforcement
program,     we recommend that the Secretary                of Transportation
require    the Administrator    of the Federal              Highway Administra-
tion to:


                                          27
      --Establish    systematic    procedures                for developing     en-
         forcement   cases to insure      that              cases will    be uniformly
         and adequately    prepared e
      --Reduce     the    delays     in the     Bureau's       civil   processing
         time.
      --Instruct      Bureau regional           directors        and regional    coun-
          sels to negotiate       civil        penalties       closer    to the maxi-
          mum allowed      to encourage         greater       compliance    with
          safety   regulations.
      --Take    stronger   enforcement    actions   against   carriers
         and drivers     who fail   to prepare    or properly   maintain
         dr iver logs m
RECOMMENDATION TO THE CONGRESS
_---_-----__-----
       We recommend that the Congress amend the 1935 Motor Car-
rier   Act, as amended (part         II of the Interstate         Commerce
Act) to provide         the Bureau the additional       authority      to as-
sess civil     penalties      for all violations     by all carriers       who
are now subject         to the motor carrier     safety    regulations     and
to increase      maximum fines     and penalties     for both civil       and
criminal    violations.
AGENCY
_-------- COMMENTS
       The Department  generally            agreed with our findings,                con-
clusionsp   and recommendations             (see app. I) and said it                would
take the following    actions:
      --Revise      enforcement     procedures         with      a view toward       es-
         tablishing       more definitive         criteria        for selecting
         cases for enforcement            action.
      --Institute   a study of procedural                     and institutional        de-
          lays to improve the processing                    time to settlement
          of civil cases.
      --Provide    field    program managers more definitive         guid-
         ance on settlement        of civil   penalty    cases to assure
         improved    future    safe operations      on the part of the
         carriers.
      --Review      the   Bureau's      position     of not ordering         drivers
         out-of-service        for    failing      to have drivers'         daily
         logs.
      The Department   noted that it recognized        the need to up-
grade the Bureau's    enforcement   authorities     and is consider-
ing support  for introduction     of such legislation.
                                          28
                                       CHAPTER 5
                                       ---__--
             BETTER FEDERAL AND
             --                   STATE COOPERATION
                              ------          -__------NEEDED
                 FOR MORE ---------__
                 ---      EFFECTIVE SAFETY ----__--
                                           REGULATION
      Bureau and State motor carrier               safety   investigators
often    conduct   their  own inspections          in the same general
areas and at the same carrier          facilities.          Coordinated
scheduling     of such inspections       could divide         the work among
the investigators,       make better     use of each other's            work, and
save the time of both the investigators                  and carrier      employ-
ees and officials.
      The Bureau could also make better     use of available
State motor carrier   safety   data to reduce its workload                         and
extend the coverage   of carriers.
COOPERATIVE AGREEMENTS
         In an April      1965 report      L/, the House Committee                on In-
terstate     and Foreign         Commerce disclosed           widespread       variances
in Federal      and State regulations             applicable         to motor carriers
and procedures         for enforcing       carrier       violations.         These vari-
ances limited        effective       and uniform       regulation       of carriers'
operations.        The Committee        recommended enactment              of new leg-
islation     intended       to strengthen       motor carrier          safety     regula-
tion by authorizing            the Federal      agency to make cooperative
agreements      with the various          States.        On September         6, 1965,
the Congress enacted             Public   Law 89-170,         which amended the
Motor Carrier        Act of 1935 to provide              for more coordination
among Federal        and State agencies           with motor carrier            regula-
tory responsibilities.
         A cooperative        agreement       is a formal    arrangement         for the
exchange of technical             information      such as inspection            reports
and statistics,         training       assistance,     joint    investigation
of motor carrier          operations,        and mutual cooperation            in en-
forcement       case work.        Participation       of all parties         is
strictly      voluntary       and the agreement        can be canceled           by
either     party.      The Federal        Government     does not provide           fund-
ing or incentives           to the States        under these agreements.
        In 1977 the Bureau reported    that it had cooperative
agreements     with all 50 States   and the District      of Columbia
which covered      84 of the 148 State agencies      engaged in motor
carrier    safety   activities.

------

A/H.R.    Rep.    89-253,     89th   Cong.,      1st   Sess.   (1965).

                                            29
LIPlITED
----        USE OF
                 -- STATE       DATA
                                 --
       The basic premise        underlying   a cooperative    agreement   is
that information       will    be exchanged between Federal       and State
agencies.     Although      the Bureau had agreements      with 11 agen-
cies in the 7 States          we visited,  the usefulness     of the
agreements    varied.
        We found the degree of cooperation                      actually     depended on
the safety         investigator's        ability      to establish        a working     re-
lationship         with State personnel.              State agencies         generally
said the Bureau may have copies                     of their     road check, safety
survey,      and motor carrier           accident       reports.        The Bureau did
not take full          advantage       of cooperative         agreements      with Cali-
fornia,      Illinois,        Indiana,    Ohio, and New Mexico to obtain
available         State reports        on motor carriers.             The following
table     shows what types of motor carrier                     safety    reports     were
prepared        by the seven States            reviewed     and obtained        by the
Bureau.
                                    Type of report
                                    --          -a
State
----               Road check                    Safety   survey               Accident
Illinois        Never requested                 Not prepared       by       Sent on re-
                by Bureau                       State                       quest
Indiana         Received   rou-                 Not prepared       by       Sent on re-
                tinely   by Bureau              State                       quest
Ohio            Received   rou-                 Never requested             Sent on re-
                tinely   by Bureau              by Bureau                   quest
Cali-
fornia          Sent    on request              Sent   on request           Sent on re-
                                                                            quest
Colorado        Received   rou-                 Received   rou-             Received
                tinely   by Bureau              tinely   by Bureau          routinely
                                                                            by Bureau
New
Mexico          Sent    on request           Not prepared          by       Sent on re-
                                             State                          quest
Wyoming         Not prepared        by       Not prepared          by       Received
                State                        State                          routinely
                                                                            by Bureau
        Bureau officials     in these States       advised     us that they
cannot rely on State reports           because States       normally   do not
adequately      consider   Federal   requirements,       interests,    or re-
porting     methods.     For this  reason the officials           did not
                                           30
always request    copies    of State reports.        However, our
analysis  of States'      motor carrier    safety    activities        re-
vealed many similarities,       and    few substantial        differences,
in the procedures      used by the Bureau and the State agencies.
COMPARISON OF STATE AND
     -----BP-----




FEDERAL PROGRAMS AND RESOURCES
-------mm---             --
        The States    in our review have either         adopted as State
regulations      the Federal  motor carrier       safety    regulations     in
total    or in part or have similar       rules.      However, Wyoming
did not have a motor carrier        safety     program during        the period
covered     by our review and is not included            in the following
discussion.        Wyoming is now developing       a safety     program.
          The following      State agencies      enforce       compliance      with
State motor carrier           safety   requirements:           Illinois     State
Police,      Indiana     State Police,      Ohio Highway Patrol,            Public
Utilities       Commission      of Ohio, Public      Utilities          Commission
of Colorado,         Colorado    State Patrol,      New Mexico Motor Trans-
portation       Department,       and California     Highway Patrol.             Com-
bined they have over 2,000 people performing                         road checks,
and the Bureau has 23 more investigators                     performing      checks
in these six States.
        State road checks are made at rest areas and at perma-
nent and portable         weighing     stations.        Unlike    the Bureau,
State police        and highway patrols          stop vehicles       on the high-
way when there         is reason to believe          State motor carrier
safety     regulations      are being violated.            Indeed,    many safety
violations       are detected      in this way.         The violations      de-
tected     are similar      to those covered         by the Bureau.        For in-
stance,      some of the safety        violations       noted by each of the
six State enforcement           agencies      are as follows:
                    --Lack      of or      improperly     maintained    driver   logs.
                    --Driving      excessive        hours.
                    --Malfunctioning            brakes.
                    --Unsafe      tires.
                    --Defective         exhaust     or suspension      system.
                    --Lack      of emergency        equipment.
       Bureau and State investigators               also look at many of the
same areas during          a motor carrier       terminal    survey.       For ex-
ample, Bureau,         Colorado,     and Ohio investigators          look at
driver   qualification         records,    determine      if all accidents
have been reported,           and ascertain      if proper     truck mainte-
nance records        have been kept.        The investigators          also check

                                                             31
driver     logs   for   completeness      and hours-of-service           violations.
        Several    of the States     we     visited     had active      enforcement
programs     to deter violators        of     State safety      regulations.
For instance,        in fiscal   years      1974-75,     enforcement       agencies
in three States        cited   393,000      trucks     and drivers      for safety
violations      other    than speeding.           About 327,000 of those cit-
ed were given warnings          and not       fined.     The remaining        66,000
were fined      about $1.4 million.
LIMITED COORDINATION
---_--_-------
         Six of the seven States      visited       conduct   road check ac-
tivities       similar   to the Bureau's.        However, only Colorado,
Indiana,       and Ohio routinely    provide      their   road check reports          to
assist      the Bureau in detecting       interstate      motor carrier      violations.
Illinois       does not send the Bureau its reports            because an agreement
has never been negotiated.           California,        New Mexico,     and Illinois
officials        said if requested,    they would forward         their   reports       to
the Bureau.
        California,        Colorado,     and Ohio also conducted           safety
surveys.        However,     only in Colorado       do Bureau and State of-
ficials      coordinate      their    survey plans.       The Bureau does not
coordinate        safety    surveys    with either     the California         or Ohio
agencies,       and! as a result,         Bureau investigators          and State
investigators          survey many of the same carriers.                For ex-
ample, we identified             at least    42 Ohio-based      carriers      which
were subject         to duplicate      surveys.     Twenty-two       of 42 car-
riers    were visited        by 2 enforcement       agencies     within     2 years
even though many of the 4,119 Ohio-based                   interstate       carriers
were not visited           at all during      the period.       In addition,         in
more than half of the reports               the Bureau and State investi-
gators    disclosed        many of the same violations.
BUREAU EFFORTS---1_--
-------              TO IMPROVE
STATE       COORDINATION
---------------
        A July 10, 1975, Federal             Highway Administration          order
established         as a special      emphasis area the enhancement              of
motor carrier          safety    by encouraging         the States    to update and
enlarge     their      motor carrier      safety     activities.        The July
1975 order        stated     that numerous State agencies             were involved
in related       motor carrier        safety    activities,       that the States
must be encouraged             to extend their       cooperative      agreements
to include       more of these agencies#             and that exchange and
analysis      of data could lead to standardized                  approaches     to
promoting       safe commercial        transportation.
         Our review    indicated       that the Bureau has made only              lim-
ited     progress   in carrying        out the intent  of the order.

                                          32
Bureau officials          cite      the lack of attractive       incentives      as
the primary      factor       limiting     increased     Federal   and State
cooperation.        Several         Bureau proposals       for a Federal    finan-
cial   assistance       program to the States            were not approved       by
the Department        of Transportation.             These proposals      were
turned    down primarily            because of the Bureau's        lack of infor-
mation on whether           the present       Federal    program is achieving
the desired      safety       benefits.
      The Highway Administration           has designated      several   pro-
gram areas for special        Bureau emphasis during         fiscal    year
1977 to enhance motor csrier            safety.     Included     among the
emphasis areas is a goal of encouraging               States   to enlarge
their  commercial     carrier   inspections     and to conduct more fre-
quent vehicle     road checks.
CONCLUSIONS
--
        Federal       and State coordination         of their   motor carrier
safety     activities       is of benefit        to all concerned    and is
practical.          The  present      extent   of  cooperation,    however,   varies
widely.       Unfortunately         in most cases it falls       far short    of
what is attainable.             Although     the Bureau has emphasized
cooperation         in the past,       much more needs to be done.
        Although    cooperative     agreements  have been signed   in
each of the States        we visited,     the Bureau did not obtain   all
available      State data on motor carrier        operations.
        Since the Federal     motor carrier       safety   program does not
provide     funding   to the States,      no effective     incentive    exists
to promote increased        cooperation     from the States.         The Bu-
reau, however,      can improve      its operation      and coverage    of
motor carriers      through   better     use of available      State informa-
tion.
RECOMMENDATION.TO THE
SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION
                 u--
      We recommend that the Secretary            of Transportation        re-
quire  the Administrator         of the Federal    Highway Administration
to use road check,       safety     survey,   and accident    reports     pro-
vided by the States       when formulating       work schedules.         The
Highway Administration         should    rely on State reports        to
the maximum extent       practical.
AGENCY COMMENTS
         The Department      stated   that it has no authority      to re-
quire     States    to submit motor carrier         safety reports,   but
the Bureau would request            appropriate     State agencies  to vol-
untarily      furnish    such reports      for inclusion   in the management
information        system now under development.
                                         33
                                        CHAPTER 6
                                        ------
       OVERALL
             -- CONCLUSIONS,
                     _l_--------- RECOMMENDATION      TO THE CONGRESS
                                         --------B.----------L
                                AND AGENCY ----
                                           COMMENTS
CONCLUSIONS
        ---
        We believe        that if the Congress and the Department                of
Transportation          take actions   along the lines        recommended in
chapters     3, 4, and 5, the Bureau's            safety   responsibility         can
be more effectively            carried out.    However, we also believe
the Congress        should consider      a larger     issue concerning         the
overall     purpose and effectiveness          of the Bureau's          safety    en-
forcement      activity.
        Interstate       motor carrier           safety     is important         and led
the Congress         in 1935 to pass legislation                  requiring       the estab-
lishment      and enforcement            of safety       regulations        for interstate
motor carrier          vehicles      and drivers.           Enforcement        of those
regulations,         however,      has been limited.              Consider,       that in
most cases,        the problems          highlighted        in 1966 Subcommittee
hearings      as limiting         effective       management and execution                of
the Federal        motor carrier           safety     program still         exist    today.
While significant            improvements          in Bureau operations             are pos-
sible,     we believe,        as did the Subcommittee                in 1966, that it
would require          substantial         additional       resources       before     the Bu-
reau could be fully             responsive         to the Subcommittee's             con-
cerns.
      ,Commercial     vehicles        are still       involved    in many highway
accidents   involving       fatalities,         injuries,      and heavy property
losses.    Driver     fatigue       resulting       from excessive     driving
hours remains     a primary         cause of motor carrier           accidents.
        The Bureau's        safety    activities      have undoubtedly         resulted
in many motor carriers             making safety        improvements.        For ex-
ample, motor carriers             have developed        comprehensive      programs
for improving          the safety     of their      operations.       In addition
the Bureau's         inspection      efforts     have resulted      in safety      bene-
fits.     Over one-third          of the trucks       and buses inspected          by
the Bureau in fiscal             years 1974 and 1975 were considered                  im-
minent highway hazards              and were immediately        placed out of
service     until      the unsafe conditions          were corrected.          How-
ever,    since less than 1 percent               of the 4 million       interstate
commercial        vehicles      and drivers      are inspected      annually,      it
is reasonable          to believe      that many more unsafe vehicles              and
drivers     go undetected.
      Although        the Bureau's     staff        and expenditures have in-
creased    since      being transferred           form ICC, so has the Bureau's

                                             34
area of responsibility.           The Department         of Transportation      and
the Highway Administration,            however,      have not requested      more
money for the motor carrier            safety     program as, envisioned       by
the Congress.      A contributing         factor     may be the Bureau's
lack of specific       and reliable       information      to indicate     whether
the Federal   motor carrier         safety     program is effectively
achieving   desired     safety    benefits.
RECOMMENDATION
--             TO THE CONGRESS
                       --
        Interstate      motor carriers        safety      is an important     ele-
ment of the overall          highway safety         picture    but the Department
of Transportation          has made limited         progress     toward addressing
the congressional          concerns     expressed       in 1966.     If the Con-
gress still        wants the Federal         motor carrier       safety   program
improved       to the level      envisioned      in 1966, we recommend that
it take action         to strengthen       the program.        The following       are
several      courses     of action     which the Congress could choose
from:
       --Increase       Bureau     resources  for performing     important
           safety    activities,       such as safety   surveys.
       --Develop    a program of          positive   financial      incentives            to
          encourage    the States         to assume the responsibility
          for enforcing     State        motor carrier      safety     regulations
          which are similar       to      the Federal     regulations.
       --Enact     a combination          of increased    Bureau emphasis             and
          positive    financial         incentives     to the States.
AGENCY COMMENTS
p--y_
        The Department           agreed that the Federal             motor carrier
safety     program has not achieved                its full     potential       for risk
reduction       and commercial          vehicle      accident     prevention.          The
Department         stated     that isolating         the motor carrier          safety
program from the Department's                   other highway safety            efforts
may portray          a misleading       picture      with respect        to the level
of protection           afforded     the public        from undue risks         from motor
vehicle      collisions.          The Department          said the safety         features
built    into new highways;             the motor vehicle           safety‘standards
for new vehicles;             and Federal       highway safety         standards       ad-
ministered         by the States        represent        an overall      strategy      to re-
duce highway accidents               by all classes          of highway users.
       The Department     said,   however,    that certain    improvements
in the operations       of the Federal      motor carrier   safety   pro-
gram can be effected       and that certain       of the internal    pro-
cedural   deficiencies     noted are already       being addressed    and
the remainder       can be undertaken     in the near future.

                                             35
APPENDIX       I                                                                                         APPENDIX   I




                                    OFFICE   OF THE     SECRETARY          OF TRANSPORTATION
                                                   WASHINGTON.      O.C.      20590




     ASSISTANT   SECRETARY
      FOR ADMINISTRATION


                                                                                        Apri14,         1977




           Mr. Henry Eschwege
           Director
           Community and Economic Development                       Division
           U. S. General Accounting Office
           Washington,  D. C. 20548

           Dear Mr.          Eschwege:

           This is in response to your letter       of January 11, 1977, requesting
           comments on the General Accounting       Office  draft     report   entitled,
           "The Federal  Motor Carrier    Safety  Program:   Limited      Progress     Since
           1966, Improvements   Needed."    We have reviewed      the report      in detail
           and prepared  a Department    of Transportation     reply.

           Two copies          of   the   reply   are   enclosed.

                                                                    Sincerely,


                                                        7%&e@-
                                                             -- *. /w
                                                                    William           S. Heffelfinger

           Enclosures




                                                         36
                                                                                                   APPENDIX             I
APPENDIX         1



                            DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION REPLY

                                                     TO
                                                     -

                                   GAO DRAFT OF REPORT TO
                              THE CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES

                                                     -ON

                        THE FEDERAL MOTOR CARRIER SAFETY PROGRAM:
                              LIMITED PROGRESS SINCE 1966,
                                    IMPROVEMENTS NEEDED


                                Bureau of Motor Carrier      Safety
                                Federal  HiGhway Administration
                                 Department  of Transportation


 SUMMARY OF GAO FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

 GAO reviewed        the program activities                of the Bureau of Motor Carrier               Safety
  (BMCS) at Headquarters,               regional      offices,      and detached duty stations,              and
 examined State counterpart                   agency activities        and interrelationships             with
 BMCS. Comparisons              were made of program outputs               prior    to transfer        of the
 motor carrier         safety      function      to DOT in 1967 to current            program levels,
 as a measure of effectiveness.                      The GAO states       that BMCS has evidenced
 little     progress       in the decade of 1966 to 1976 in adequately                       controlling
 the safety       of operations           of the 165,000 interstate             motor carriers         and the
 4,000,OOO vehicles             and drivers         subject    to the Federal       Motor Carrier
 Safety     Regulations.           This is due to the inability               of BMCS to acquire           and
 expend adequate resources                  to meet an expanding         population      of carriers,
 drivers,      and vehicles,          to successfully          upgrade outdated        sanctions,        to take
 full     advantage of State data,                to timely      process enforcement         actions,      and
 utilize      systematic        selection       procedures       to optimize     its inspection          and
 enforcement        activities.

  The GAO recommends that the Secretary                    require      the Administrator           of the
  Federal     Highway Administration            to improve the management of the Motor
  Carrier     Safety     Program through         (1) improved procedures             for selecting           carriers
  and vehicles        for examination,         (2) more definitive           guidelines        to improve the
  quality     of enforcement        cases,     (3) elimination         of delays       in enforcement           case
  processing,        (4) instructing       staff     to negotiate        penalties       closer     to the
  maximum allowed,          (5) strengthened         enforcement       actions      against      drivers      who
  fail     to Prepare or maintain          driver's      daily     logs,    and (6) better          utilization
  of State road check and safety                 survey data to assist            in planning         BMCS work
  activities.




                                                             37
                       I   Y




APPENDIX         I                                                                    APPENDIX    I




 SUMMARY OF DEPARTMENT OF TFANSPORTATION POSITION

 It is the position      of the Federal    Highway Administration        that improvements
 in the operation      of the Federal    Motor Carrier   Safety     Program can be
 effected.     Certain   of the internal    procedural   deficiencies       noted are
 already   being addressed     and the remainder     can be undertaken       in the near
 future.

 We do believe    that examination        of this   program in isolation    from the
 other highway safety       efforts    of this    Department  may portray   a misleading
 picture    of the overall     posture    of the agency with respect      to the level
 of protection     afforded    the public     from undue risks   from motor vehicle
 collisions    generally.

 Certainly,      the safety     features      built  into new highways;       the motor vehicle
 safety     standards   applicable       to   new motor vehicle      manufacturers:    and the
 State highway safety         standards       of the National     Highway Traffic     Safety
 Administration       administered       by   the States   represent    an overall    strategy
 to reduce highway accidents             by   all classes    of highway users.


 POSITION       STATEMENT

 The GAO report  should be viewed in the context     of new assignments    in
 cargo security  and motor carrier   noise enforcement   as well as expanded
 emphasis on hazardous   materials safety  which have been assigned     to the
 Bureau of Motor Carrier   Safety without  commensurate   resources.

 While we agree with the principal          thrust     of the report       that the Federal
 Motor Carrier    Safety  Program has not achieved           its full      potential    for
 risk reduction     and commercial   vehicle       accident    prevention,      certain
 weaknesses    in the procedures   utilized       by BMCS were recognized            and steps
 taken to overcome them during      the period         prior   to the GAO review.

 The specific        recommendations     made by GAO along       with   the   FHWA response
 follow:

      (1)    "Improve     the management of the Motor Carrier         Safety Program,
             by requiring      the Administrator      of FHWA to develop an
             information      system to facilitate      the analysis   of motor carrier
             safety    records    to help investigators     select   motor carriers
             most in need of safety        surveys."




                                                      38
APPENDIX       I                                                                                   APPENDIX   I




        The recently       established        Motor Carrier       Safety    Census .File    (a
        computer program to record carriers                   of record and store
        information      received      in a manner which will            allow rapid
        retrieval)     is an initial          step in developing         an automated
        capability    to provide         information      to the field        staff  to assist
        in improving       selection       of carriers      in need of inspection.           This
        system will      ultimately        assist    in identifying       high risk    carriers
        as candidates        for inspection,         thereby    maximizing       the impact of
        the inspection        process.

 (2)    "Establish     systematic       procedures       for development   of enforcement
        cases to     assure that       cases will       be uniformly   and adequately
        prepared."

        Revision     of the "Enforcement     Program"                chapter     of the "BMCS
        Operations     Manual" will     be undertaken                with a view toward
        establishing     more definitive     guidance                on criteria      for selecting
        cases for enforcement        action.

 (3)    "Eliminate      delays    in   the   Bureau's        civil       (forfeiture)     Processing
        time."

        A study of procedural   and institutional          delays will                   be undertaken
        jointly  by BMCS and the Office      of the Chief Counsel                        to improve
        the processing  time to settlement        of civil     forfeiture                  claim cases.

 (4)    "Instruct     Bureau Regional      Directors    and Regional    Counsels   to
        negotiate     civil   penalties    closer    to the maximum allowed,     to
        encourage     greater   compliance     with the safety    regulations."

        A directive   will  be issued to the FHWA field      program managers
        providing   more definitive      guidance on the size of claims     issued
        and use of settlement       agreements   to assure improved  future    safe
        operations   on the part of the carriers.

  (5)   "Take stronger   enforcement     actions               against       drivers    who fail    to
        prepare  or properly    maintain    logs."

        The position    of BMCS on not ordering     drivers    out-of-service      for
        failing   to have driver's   daily  logs will      be reviewed,      and
        questions    on infringement  on civil   liberties     will    be reexamined.

  (6)   '*Require the Administrator        of the Federal   Highway Administration
        to obtain    the State's    road check safety     survey,  and accident
        reports   for consideration      in scheduling    work, and rely on States'
        reports   to the maximum extent       practical."




                                                        39
APPENDIX    I                                                                       APPENDIX     I




            The Department     has no authority         to require     States   to submit
            States'   reports,    but the appropriate          State agencies      will   be
            requested    to voluntarily       furnish     such reports     to BMCS for
            inclusion    in carrier     safety    files    which will     be incorporated
            into the Motor Carrier         Safety automated management information
            system now under development.

The Department        has recognized    the need to upgrade BMCS enforcement
authorities.         We are considering    support for introduction  of legislation
similar      to that introduced      in the last Congress which would upqrade BMCS
enforcement       authorities.




                                                yjqj?$,J~G~
                                           H. A.     Lindberg

                                 For:      L.    P. Lamm
                                           Acting    Federal       Highway       Administrator




                                                40
APPENDIX II                                                 APPENDIX II
                       PRINCIPAL
                               --    OFFICIALS

                 --RESPONSIBLE    FOR ADMINISTERING
                            ---------
              ACTIVITIES   DISCUSSED IN THIS REPORT

                                          ------ Tenure   of office
                                                             ------
                                              From                  To
                                                                   --

                 DEPARTMENT OF
                            ---- TRANSPORTATION
SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION:
    Brock Adams                           Jan.     1977       Present
    William Coleman                       Mar.     1975       Jan.       1977
    John W. Barnum (acting)               Feb.     1975       Mar.       1975
    Claude S. Brinegar                    Feb.     1973       Feb.       1975
    John A. Volpe                         Jan.     1969       Feb.       1973
    Alan S. Boyd                          Jan.     1967       Jan.       1969
ADMINISTRATOR, FEDERAL HIGHWAY
  ADMINISTRATION:
    Lester    P. Lamm (acting)            Jan.     1977       Present
    Norbert     T. Tiemann                May.     1973       Jan.    1977
    Ralph R. Bartelsmeyer
       (acting)                            July    1972       May        1973
    Francis     C. Turner                  Feb.    1969       June       1972
    Lowell     K. Bridwell                 Apr.    1967       Jan.       1969
ASSOCIATE ADMINISTRATOR FOR
  SAFETY:
    Howard L. Anderson                     May     1975        Present
DIRECTOR, BUREAU OF MOTOR
  CARRIER SAFETY:
    Robert A. Kaye                         Apr.    1970       Present
    Kenneth L. Pierson (acting)            July    1969       Apr.    1970
    George A. Meyer                        Apr.    1967       July    1969




                                    41
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