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NYS Comptroller


Taxpayers' Guide to State and Local Audits

Department of Transportation
Selected Aspects of the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program

Issued: January 22, 2014
Link to full audit report 2012-S-13
Link to 90-day response

To determine whether the Department of Transportation (Department) is taking appropriate actions to ensure that commercial carriers whose vehicles or drivers have been found to have violations serious enough to warrant their removal from service are making appropriate, timely repairs or corrections. This audit covers the period October 1, 2008 through June 17, 2013.

The Department is responsible for administering State participation in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (Program). The Program's goal is to reduce the number and severity of crashes, fatalities, and injuries involving commercial motor vehicles. Roadside inspections of commercial vehicles are a primary part of the Department's activities. The inspections are performed by Department inspectors and specially trained State Police and local police officers. When inspections identify violations, carriers typically receive a traffic citation. However, inspections sometimes uncover violations serious enough to warrant immediately removing the vehicle from service until they are fixed. Carriers with poor safety records may also be subject to more stringent Department enforcement, including on-site compliance reviews or formal Notices of Violation, which may result in additional penalties.

Key Findings

  • The Department does not monitor whether carriers submit required certifications that violations have been repaired, or when submitted, if they are on time. As a result, 39 percent of the certifications for out-of-service violations during our audit period were not submitted, while 26 percent were submitted late.
  • The Department did not always impose penalties when it found that carriers knowingly placed the public at risk by continuing to operate out-of-service vehicles prior to repairs. In about 60 percent of the cases we reviewed, the Department did not use progressive enforcement actions. Instead, violators in these instances typically received a traffic citation.

Key Recommendations

  • Actively monitor carrier compliance with the requirements for certification that vehicles have been repaired. Develop strategies to improve carrier compliance, particularly for those with poor safety histories and out-of-service violations.
  • Impose progressive enforcement actions, such as compliance reviews and formal Notices of Violation, when carriers are found to have continued to operate out-of-service vehicles.

Other Related Audits/Reports of Interest

Department of Transportation: Selected Truck Inspection Practices (2003-S-24)
Department of Transportation: School Bus Safety Inspection Program (2000-S-10)

State Government Accountability Contact Information:
Audit Director: John Buyce
Phone: (518) 473-4271; Email:
Address: Office of the State Comptroller; Division of State Government Accountability; 110 State Street, 11th Floor; Albany, NY 12236