In America our federal government works to implement laws that regulate our states and our people. Our Congress and Senate work to pass these laws to assure that all Americans are treated equally, and in accordance to our Bill of Rights.
But what happened when our Federal bodies passed the bill that contained CSA? According to the FMCSA when Congress passed the Transportation Bill that created CSA it gave the FMCSA the power to create rules to govern the transportation industry. These rules would not be subject to our judicial system or our nations Constitution or Bill of Rights.
Today, because of that Transportation Bill created by our government in 2001 the commercial trucking industry drivers are stopped and inspected for any type of possible equipment violations then scored by the FMCSA. After an equipment inspection is performed by a police officer the driver and possibly his employer is given the score. The score is based upon the amount of equipment violations, if any are found, and the type and severity of the failed or about to fail part.
On paper, CSA appeared to be just what the transportation industry needed to correct all of the legal short comings of the past 100 years, but as most of us have seen, CSA has fallen far short of the high standards set by congress. If there has ever been a failure to communicate between a government agency and an industry, the FMCSA has to” hands down “be the poster child for the failure of CSA.
So where did these problems begin? First, every state reads and applies the rules of CSA as they see fit. Big failure! Second, some states are using CSA to raise as much money as they possibly can and believe me, they are doing a fine job of it. CSA is so broad, so complicated and so outside of our constitutional laws that it actually may become a threat to the freedom of all Americans. The FMCSA has mentioned in the past, in fact more than once, that some of the CSA rules might fit well with helping control the public’s problems with highway safety.
What does Department of Transportation employees think about CSA? Some live for what is written in a book. In Georgia for example, at one scale house a DOT agent uses a magnifying glass and a flashlight to cover every inch of a truck - top, bottom, inside and outside. What does he hope to find? Perhaps a stained hose, a wire that might hang an inch lower than it did when the truck was new, oil or grease that might have made its way from one engine part to another. It might even be a dirty taillight or a light that has gone out on its own while traveling down the highway. Mechanical issues that hide under a truck where only company mechanics have ventured before, but now are the responsibility of a driver who has no obligation to be a mechanic. Because of CSA, drivers are even responsible for internal part failures that cannot be seen by the naked eye. DOT uses high tech equipment to discover parts that are in the process of failing, items like metal fatigue. This would be great if the information was passed to the truck owner for repairs but instead, the driver and the carrier are cited, fined and scored for CSA purposes. If that part is repaired shouldn’t that be enough if the company had no knowledge of it?
Expensive new equipment called EOBRs are slated to be required running gear for all trucking companies. Yet the FMCSA gives the same expensive equipment to Mexico’s drivers who bring their equipment into the U.S. to compete against American drivers. Officers can guess the speed of a truck that is going in any direction and cite the driver without any proof. Officers are writing tickets for decals they say are not properly spaced. The DOT rule book does not state exact distances between decals. It just generalizes what a proper amount of space could be. Then they rule that an officer can use their best judgment to determine if a decal is proper or not.
In Florida, if a trucker urinates in a container, it is up to the officer to determine if the container is good enough or not, to use. Most of the time it is not! In other states, a driver’s bunk must only have white sheets on them, while other states just want clean sheets. An FMCSA officer stated that because of state laws that are so diverse, no driver or commercial vehicle could drive across this country without breaking some law. All of these things that law officers do today under CSA do not afford the driver the basic rights of having the charges heard in a court of law by a jury of their peers!
As far as I am concerned, the worst thing that is going on with some of the law enforcement organizations, especially most of the employees of the FMCSA, the Department of Transportation and state troopers in all states, is that they do not understand the CSA rules. They cannot give a straight answer to drivers or carriers when a serious CSA question is asked. Yet, they all are quick to draw their pen and stab a ticket in the name of the carrier and the driver. States like Indiana enforce their newly made state laws that they claim they made in line with FMCSA rules. The fact is that Indiana State laws, which attacks drivers who use C-PAP machines are in violation of FMCSA regulation 355.25, part a, general and part b, as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Now, if all of this is true, then why don’t you hear carriers and drivers screaming at the top of their lungs? Why haven’t the carriers filed suit against the FMCSA and state DOT? The answer is the FMCSA and the states DOT departments control every action made by drivers and carriers. The FMCSA and the DOT carries a big enough stick to put Sherriff Buford Pusser to shame. The fact is, carriers and drivers are too smart to go against an organization that can close the doors of carriers and end a driver’s career with a stroke of a pen.
Is this new rule system created by Congress, America’s enemy? Is the fact that one government agency has successfully used rules to disregard laws now going to be used at other government agencies? Will America move forward in the name of the rule or the name of the law?