The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is working on improvements to its National Consumer Complaint Database (NCCDB) that will lead to better reporting to the trucking industry.

Many of the NCCDB updates came from recommendations in a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report. One of the issues raised in the report is that entities the online database is intended to help – motor carriers, bus companies, and professional truck and bus drivers – may not know the website exists. Those who do try to use the complaint website may find the instructions confusing, particularly in locating the appropriate category for their complaint.

A little history tells us why the NCCDB may not be widely known in the trucking industry. When Congress passed the statutory charter creating FMCSA, it charged the agency with reducing crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving large trucks and buses. Legislators then tasked FMCSA with also overseeing the household goods (HHG) moving industry in its dealings with the general public – the “consumer” in the National Consumer Complaint Database. The NCCDB is intended to capture complaints from all areas regulated by FMCSA, but the agency has actively promoted the website only under the “Protect Your Move” campaign aimed at HHG customers.

FMCSA largely agreed with the GAO findings and is acting to improve the website. As a result, truckers will no longer need to wonder who to contact at FMCSA about a complaint, who to talk to about coercion or harassment of truck drivers or attempted double-brokering of loads. NCCDB website improvements under the GAO guidance should make the instructions easier to follow. The complaints will, in turn, be routed by category to the appropriate FMCSA personnel for action.

Commercial vehicle enforcement officers inspect trucks. Highway patrol officers monitor on-road behavior. FMCSA and state personnel conduct on-site investigations at motor carrier facilities. But a large portion of FMCSA responsibilities aren’t addressed through these actions. Federal and state officials simply lack the resources to physically attend interactions between carrier and driver, trucking company and broker, truck driver and shipper. The changes suggested by the GAO to the complaint process may allow the NCCDB to bridge that gap and help maintain integrity in the transportation system.

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