There are so many federal government agencies that it’s understandable that the average American is unfamiliar with most of them. Yet, even though most of these agencies rarely receive much press coverage or recognition from the public, they often do very important work that impacts the lives of everyday people.
For example, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the arm of the Department of Transportation that is tasked with the mission of “prevent(ing) commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries.” Thanks to this agency, an untold number of injurious and fatal accidents involving large, commercial vehicles have been prevented.
Yet, such accidents do occur every day, albeit with less frequency than they would if the FMCSA wasn’t an influence in American life. As a result, the agency continues to search for ways to keep the roads safer. For example, it is launching a study on the nexus of commercial vehicle maintenance and overall road safety.
The goal of the study and why it matters
According to the FMCSA Federal Register notice concerning the effort, the new study will help to “determine what improvements, ranging from better compliance interventions to better vehicle maintenance requirements, would enhance motor carrier safety.” This is not an insignificant goal, as the results of the study are likely to influence any number of efforts made at the federal level over the next several years concerning commercial vehicle safety.
As it has been repeatedly estimated by private studies that commercial vehicles suffering from maintenance violations experience a crash rate that is 65% higher than average, confirmation of this reality at the federal level could lead to significant shifts in policy in favor of both higher maintenance standards and more stringent enforcement efforts.
Given that crashes involving commercial vehicles can result in catastrophic outcomes, the FMCSA’s focus on maintenance of these vehicles and how effective or ineffective maintenance can influence safety for everyone is a welcome development.