More than 35,000 potentially unrepaired trucks and buses could be putting New York road users at risk of dangerous accidents.
A recent audit by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli found that The New York Department of Transportation is not doing enough to ensure that commercial bus and truck companies whose vehicles or drivers have been found to have violations serious enough to warrant their removal from services, are making timely repairs or corrections.
The audit looked at inspections conducted from September 2008 to 2012 and found that out of 448,842 inspections conducted 20% of them or 90,368 vehicles were cited for one or more out of service violations. 76,229 of them were out of service violations on vehicles (trucks or buses) and 21,417 on drivers.
An out of service violation means that the violation must be fixed before the vehicle can be operated again. The truck or the bus may be repaired on site or towed for repair. An inspection report is established and companies have 15 days to return the inspection report to the DOT certifying that repairs have been made.
According to the audit 35,556 report and repair certifications were never returned to the DOT. This indicates that 39% of trucks and buses that have been found to have serious safety problems may still be on the road unrepaired potentially creating a serious threat of accidents. 26% of the reports were returned late and only 35% were returned on time.
The DOT doesn’t use any tracking system and relies on subsequent inspections to find commercial carriers that continue to operate out of service vehicles prior to repairs.
When inspectors discover that a carrier continues to operate an out of service bus or truck without repairs the audit found out that in 60% of cases the DOT did not use progressive enforcement actions. Most of the time violators just received a traffic violation.
The audit recommends that the New York DOT develop and implement a strategy to actively monitor commercial carriers safety compliance and impose progressive enforcement actions when truckers and bus operators continue to operate out of service vehicles.