Breakdown: Hiring Reform Act

Motor Carrier Safety Fitness Determination – Bill 1454

In an effort to ensure safe motor carrier industry practices, the Transportation and Logistics Hiring Reform Act (S.1454) bill has been introduced to the US Senate.  The goal is to establish a hiring standard nationally for motor carriers that eclipses the current data provided by the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration).

Senators Deb Fischer and Roy Blount from Nebraska and Missouri respectively have introduced this bill that reflects a similar version of John Duncan’s February submission representing Tennessee. Both believe that the current data that is available to screen and hire carriers is inadequate and imprecise.

The CSA claims that their BASIC guidelines are clear enough for shippers to base their motor carrier hiring decisions. This criteria seems vague at best for third party logistics providers, shippers and freight brokers with which to screen and hire safe carriers. The passing of the bill would ensure that the carrier is properly licensed, maintains ‘at least’ the minimum liability insurance and does not have a rating of ‘unsatisfactory’.

In the CSA’s defense, resources are limited while they employ just over 300 inspectors to monitor over half a million drivers nationwide.  Compliance, Safety and Accountability are the 3 criteria currently used to meet CSA’s but truck brokers say that not only is it not enough, third party providers are being successfully sued if they have chosen a faulty carrier that is involved in an accident.  Acceptance of Bill 1454 would eliminate this legal avenue in the future.

Safety Fitness Report

The Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA) is strongly supporting the bill claiming that new guidelines and compliance will allow freight brokers and shippers to comfortably choose carriers that achieve a Safety Fitness Determination.

The TIA believes that a national hiring standard would “clarify and standardize best practices for hiring safe motor carriers” says TIA President and CEO, Robert Voltmann.  He goes on to say that, “As Congress continues to work towards a multi-year transportation reauthorization bill, this bill is a key step towards helping American businesses who are being unfairly brought into lawsuits for no fault of their own,”

Presently, industry stakeholders are at risk of legal action by basing their hiring decisions on the current information available from the FMCSA.  The FMCSA contends that approximately 8000 carriers in the nation are responsible for 90% of accidents that can lead to lawsuits.

Voltmann summarizes the intent of the bill by saying “TIA members are tired of having their livelihood put at risk every time a motor carrier is hired, because the ‘Agency’ lacks the resolve to remove unsafe carriers from our nation’s highways”.  “Furthermore, this bill is vital to improve the overall safety of the transportation industry”.

Passage of the bill will certainly alleviate the pressure from shippers, truck brokers and 3PL providers.  But in the meantime, unsafe vehicles are on our roads every day.  One must remember that while these carriers continue to operate safely, the vulnerability of innocent victims involved in truck accidents continues each day.

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