Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS) is the FMCSA or Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s guilty until proven innocent – oh wait, more guilty even if proven innocent program. The program’s goal, in theory, is to increase safety on the highways. Conceptually, the program would use compliance information to identity trucking companies and individual truck drivers that were consistently operating illegally and thus placing a greater risk of accidents and injuries. It was (wrongly, in the opinion on many) predicated on the belief that by tracking narrowly selected data, it would be possible to predict and thus prevent those drivers and companies most likely to cause an accident and take pre-accident enforcement actions. The program has been repeatedly and aggressively opposed by many in the trucking industry as an unproven and inaccurate gauge of who would cause an accidents.
The program was designed to track three key fields, identified by anti-trucking forces, as proof that if violations were recorded in any of these categories – for any reason, valid or not – that the operators were a risk to cause great bodily injury or death to the non-trucking public. This risk was thus so great that the person or persons should be removed from the highway immediately.
Among other glaring drawbacks to these solution is that there was no recourse in the event that the charges or violations were later dismissed or disproven. Once entered into the system, it would dog the company or the driver for life. Sort of like, if the driver’s licenses points never expired. For example, I was once issue a citation for an oil drip at an Indiana Scale/Commercial Inspection Station after being pulled around back solely for an inspection (I was empty at the time). It was a light rain that morning, so the under carriage of the truck was dripping with all kinds of moisture and road gunk. However, the revenue officer for the State of Indiana cited my company for oil dripping. There was not a truck or car or motorcycle that could not have been ticketed that morning. My safety officer successfully argued the matter and it was dropped. Under MCMIS’ initial configuration, this road side inspection failure would have been official proof forever that both the company and I would an increased safety risk to the world.
The FMCSA was just closed a public comment period regarding a proposed rule change that would allow carriers and drivers to upload to the system documentation and adjudicated information if the charges were dismissed, reduced or a not guilty judgement was court orders. The proposed change would require the agency involved in reporting the matter to the Motor Carrier Management Information System to upload the correction.
Although, at this time, a final rule change has not been issued, industry watchers and experts are still predicting that the vocal and aggressive anti-trucking groups will be fighting any changes. They will demand, if anything, more stringent enforcement and more frivolous data monitoring. It would not be surprising if these “all truckers are dishonest” people would want to include road side break downs as a monitored category. After all, if a truck driver is so untrustworthy that they would operate a vehicle that would suffer a mechanical failure or flat tire on the highway, they can not be trusted – ever – to be allowed to mingle with law abiding, safety minded automobile public.
Regardless of the outcome of the current rule making changes being reviewed, it does not under take changes to the country’s founding fathers premise of Innocent Until Proven Guilty. Not only is, one the information of an infraction upload to the system, the operator assumed guilty without additional trial, in the event that the charges are dismissed – they remain a part of the record and the driver must provide documentation that amends the case history. You can be assured that if one of these ‘truckers are evil’ individuals ever had a traffic ticket dismissed that they would demand it purged from their record. While truck drivers should be held to a higher standard – a standard that says all mistakes will be held against you for life is neither realistic or productive in improving safety on the highways.
By John Carter / Editor / Truck Stop Report