On April 1, 2021, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration posted its latest “Motor Carrier Safety Progress Report,” which provides a host of enforcement-related data for FYs 2019 and 2020. STC quickly noticed declining enforcement numbers and pulled the agency’s previous year “Progress Report” to see if this was a developing trend. After reviewing the FY 2018 data on the prior year’s report, the decline in enforcement activity became even more stark. Here’s what we discovered between FYs 2018 and 2020:
- The number of “warning letters” sent to carriers with high CSA scores dropped by 26%
- The number of compliance “investigations” performed (i.e., ‘DOT audits’) dropped by 16%
- The number of carriers receiving a fine/penalty after an investigation dropped by 42%
- The percentage of investigations that resulted in a fine/penalty dropped from 30% to 21%, and
- The number of Conditional safety ratings assigned after an investigation dropped by 43%
Here are the actual numbers from FMCSA’s Progress Reports:
Are any FMCSA enforcement or program numbers going up, you ask? Yes, the number of “New Entrant Safety Audits” (on new carriers entering the industry) increased by 11%, though the number of common authorities granted in 2020 increased by 38%.
The pandemic might explain some of the drop in enforcement numbers in FY 2020, but certainly not all of it. And the pandemic is not relevant to the decreases between FYs 2018 and 2019. This is a trend to watch. STC’s bet is that this trend will soon reverse, especially if Congress approves the Biden Administration’s FY 2022 budget request for DOT and FMCSA.
Check out the data for yourself: