If conscience and good business practices are not enough to make Connecticut trucking companies comply with safety regulations, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal hopes the threat of public humiliation will do the trick.
Blumenthal has called for state officials to create a “Hall of Shame,” a list to be posted online along with all safety violations logged against every commercial truck and trucking company in Connecticut.
“Consumers ought to have that information costlessly and conveniently so they can make informed choices,” he said, encouraging individuals and businesses to shun the worst offenders.
Commercial trucking safety has gained heightened attention since last summer, when four people died and 19 were injured in a fiery crash at the base of Avon Mountain. A dump truck with a history of safety violations was blamed for barreling out of control and striking a line of cars and a commuter bus on Route 44.
This year, lawmakers are expected to review several proposals to tighten safety requirements for commercial trucks, and Gov. M. Jodi Rell is adding $483,000 to her budget to hire additional inspectors at the state Department of Motor Vehicles.
Blumenthal also said that he will ask lawmakers to increase the number of mandatory inspections that each vehicle and company must pass to remain on the road.
Michael J. Riley, president of the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut, said that responsible trucking companies could be unfairly portrayed in an online “Hall of Shame.”
For example, he said, a truck can be sidelined for something as simple as a light bulb that burned out shortly before an inspection.
Also, some companies’ records have been hurt by crashes that their drivers did not cause, including a few cases when unoccupied trucks were parked and cars ran into them, he said.
“It’s case by case, and often times there are explanations that don’t get factored in and that the public wouldn’t have any way to know about,” Riley said.
Currently, people can find information about trucking companies nationwide on a Web site called the Safety and Fitness Electronic Records System, operated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
It provides details on the percentage of a company’s trucks that are taken off the road, how that compares to the national rate, the number of crashes in which the trucks have been involved and other information.
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