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The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General has initiated an audit of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s oversight of truck driver disqualifications.
OIG issued a memorandum announcing the audit Oct. 22. FMCSA’s oversight duties include annual reviews of state driver licensing agencies to make sure the agencies are complying with commercial driver license regulations.
The federal audit stems from an earlier internal investigation by a state driver licensing agency. According to OIG, a fatal crash involving a commercial driver earlier this year led to an internal investigation by the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV).
OIG states the internal investigation determined that RMV had not properly processed out-of-state paper notifications of driver convictions in about five years. Additionally, the investigation identified a software flaw that slowed RMV’s ability to process out-of-state electronic notifications in a timely manner. RMV issued thousands of CDL suspensions based on previously unprocessed out-of-state notifications in summer 2019.
“Accordingly, our objective for this self-initiated audit is to assess FMCSA’s oversight of state driver licensing agencies’ actions to disqualify commercial drivers when warranted,” OIG’s memorandum states.
The crash that prompted RMV’s internal review occurred June 21, when Volodymyr Zhukovskyy struck and killed seven motorcyclists in New Hampshire. Zhukovskyy possessed a CDL and a Class D driver’s license issued by Massachusetts. Class D refers to automobiles other than CMVs or motorcycles.
According to the firm Grant Thornton, which reviewed RMV’s internal processes after the accident, RMV had received electronic and paper notifications from Connecticut officials in late May and early June advising that Zhukovskyy had refused to take a breathalyzer test after being stopped by authorities. The notifications also said Connecticut authorities decided to withdraw Zhukovskyy’s CDL privileges effective June 10.
Grant Thornton’s report stated that the electronic and paper notifications sent from Connecticut were subject to separate processes in different departments when they reached RMV.
“Each of these processes failed to post the Connecticut notifications to Zhukovskyy’s driving record prior to the accident,” Grant Thornton’s executive summary states. “The RMV has concluded that, had either one of these notifications been processed prior to the accident, Zhukovskyy’s Massachusetts-issued CDL would have been revoked.”
OIG will begin its audit of FMCSA immediately and will conduct the audit at FMCSA headquarters and “other selected locations.”
“As we always do, we will fully cooperate with an OIG review,” an FMCSA spokesman told Transport Topics.
The memorandum notes that, in recent years, the number of large trucks and buses on the roads has increased. Recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates fatalities in crashes involving large trucks increased by less than 1% from 2017 to 2018. States are expected to report crash data to FMCSA within 90 days of the crash occurring.
OIG announced the audit on the same day the Government Accountability Office published a report indicating states did not meet most of their fatality reduction targets from 2014 through 2017. NHTSA provides a performance management framework for states to set targets related to road fatalities. GAO also found nearly half the states did not provide NHTSA with the required progress assessments related to fatality targets.
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