05272017Headline:

Norman, Oklahoma

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Are Some Trucking Companies Paying Bribes To Keep Unsafe Trucks On The Road?

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Truck Safety Inspector Arrested
Safety inspections for trucks exist in order to make the roads safe for other drivers. If those inspections are to be effective, however, there needs to be proper enforcement.

Truck safety inspectors are tasked with making sure that safety checks are conducted on trucks and that driver safety records are checked on a regular basis. Unfortunately, it appears that a truck safety inspector with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) had other thoughts. He was charged with felony counts of bribe-taking and conspiracy after allegedly accepting bribes for years from safety consultants for some commercial trucking companies that the FMCSA was supposed to monitor. So just how corrupt was the FMCSA inspector?

Alleged Corrupt Behavior
Safety consultants for different trucking companies allegedly paid the FMCSA Truck Safety Inspector to provide “inside . . . information” that enabled the trucking companies to avoid or delay inspections of their trucking rigs. Also, at times, the FMCSA inspector allegedly helped trucking firms get “friendly audits.” According to authorities, those “friendly audits” allowed the trucking firms to keep potentially unsafe vehicles on the road.

Evidence Compiled Against the Inspector
How did the FMCSA inspector get caught? Agents from the DOT Inspector General’s Office received tape recordings of the inspector allegedly arranging to “push back” a safety compliance review for one company in exchange for $1,000. A $3,000 bribe was also discussed in the taped conversations. The existence of this compelling evidence led to the inspector’s arrest.

It didn’t help that the inspector wasn’t exactly running a small-scale operation. “[A cooperating witness] estimated paying (the FMCSA inspector) approximately $60,000 to $70,000 over approximately the past two years for information and assistance,” FBI Special Agent Allan Rains said in the complaint.

According to court papers, earlier this month a witness emailed the FMCSA inspector some detailed information regarding future bribes. The FMCSA inspector was not pleased to receive an email regarding the bribes and later allegedly said to the witness, “Don’t ever put that kind of stuff in an e-mail to me again. . . . All e-mail is open to anybody who wants to get a hold of it.”

FMCSA Inspector Plead Not Guilty
The FMCSA inspector, however, isn’t conceding his role in the alleged scandal. He pleaded not guilty before a U.S. magistrate judge who ordered that he be held in jail until a mental health examination could be performed. Not surprisingly, the inspector has said he expects to be fired from his job.

Conclusion
If the charges against the FMCSA inspector are deemed accurate, countless drivers should be very concerned. The inspector did more than just violate the law. He utterly disregarded the reason that FMCSA truck safety inspections are in place — to make sure the trucking rigs (which can easily weigh 40 tons) and the truck drivers are in compliance with the laws to keep our roads and highways safe.

By not forcing trucking companies to follow the safety laws, the FMCSA inspector allowed trucking companies to jeopardize the safety and livelihood of countless drivers. Large trucks can be dangerous even when they are in compliance with existing safety checks. The last thing people need is some trucking companies bribing a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration truck safety inspector to actively help them evade laws designed to keep the roads safe.