Photo: Evan Lockridge
The New York state Department of Transportation is not adequately monitoring whether commercial carriers whose vehicles or drivers have been taken off the road because of violations are making needed repairs or corrections, potentially putting the public at risk, according to a new audit released by New York’s comptroller.
“Lax oversight of commercial carriers could be putting New York’s motorists in jeopardy,” State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli said. “The [New York] Department of Transportation needs to do a better job making sure carriers comply with the law, and most especially those with poor safety records. The state needs to send a strong message that commercial carriers that flout the rules and put people at risk will be penalized.”
The N.Y. DOT is responsible for administering state participation in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program, including roadside inspections of commercial vehicles, which are a part of it.
Federal and state regulations require motor carriers to return inspection reports and repair certifications to the N.Y. DOT within 15 days. DiNapoli’s auditors, however, found that N.Y. DOT does not monitor whether carriers that have been cited submit the required certifications on time indicating that violations have been repaired or corrected.
The audit found 39% of the certifications for 90,368 out-of-service violations on vehicles and drivers during the audit period of Oct. 1, 2008 through June 17, 2013 were not submitted, leaving the N.Y. DOT with no assurance that the out-of-service violations have been corrected.
The report notes the N. Y. DOT has no tracking system in place to monitor compliance with the 15-day requirement or even whether these reports are received at all.
Auditors also found that in roughly 60% of the cases of repeat out-of-service violations reviewed, the N.Y. DOT did not use such “enhanced enforcement actions to ensure compliance with the law. Instead, violators in these instances typically received only a traffic citation.”
The audit recommends the N.Y. DOT:
- Institute a comprehensive tracking system to monitor carrier compliance with the requirements for certification that vehicles have been repaired.
- Develop strategies to improve carrier compliance, particularly for those with poor safety histories and out-of-service violations.
- Impose increasingly severe penalties, such as compliance reviews and formal violation notices, when carriers are found to have continued to operate out-of-service vehicles.
The N.Y. DOT generally agreed with DiNapoli’s recommendations and has indicated that steps are being taken to implement them.
For a copy of the report, including more details of the N.Y. DOT’s response, visit: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/audits/allaudits/093014/12s13.pdf