NASSTRAC Advocacy Update, from the desk of Gail Rutkowski
National Motor Carrier Hiring Standard
What it is: Currently there is no standard in place to ensure that motor carriers who have been deemed unsafe to operate are no longer utilized. The National Hiring Standard would promote safety in the transportation industry and enhance interstate commerce.
Background: Shippers and 3PLs are asked to second-guess the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) on determining which carriers are safe to operate and those that are not. The Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA) has led this charge for the past few years attempting to get Congress to require the Department of Transportation (DOT) to publish guidelines that specifically outline how motor carriers can be placed out-of-service. The TIA supported legislation has been introduced the last two Congresses, as TIA and many other industry stakeholders look to clarify interstate commerce and clear up the confusion in the marketplace surrounding safety data
What it will do: The language in the bill will require that within 45 days prior to tendering a load to a motor carrier, a shipper, 3PL, broker, forward, and/or receiver verify that the motor carrier:
- Is properly registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
- Has obtained the minimum insurance
- Has not been given an “unsatisfactory” safety rating by the DOT
What it won’t do: The language does not reduce an individual’s legal recourse to sue a shipper or 3PL to exclude any data from being used as evidence. If the hiring standard is completed, the bill would prohibit any CSA, SMS, or other “data” from being used as evidence against an entity in a civil action for damages resulting from a claim of negligent selection or retention of such motor carrier.
Where it stands: The language was included in the House-passed Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act with bi-partisan support. Congressman Jimmy Duncan (R-TN) along with Congressmen Rodney Davis (R-IL), Erik Paulsen (R-MN), and David Rouzer (R-NC) introduced the bill that would enhance interstate commerce by creating a national hiring standard for motor carriers. The TIA supported legislation has been introduced the last two Congresses, as TIA and many other industry stakeholders, including NASSTRAC, look to clarify interstate commerce and clear up the confusion in the marketplace surrounding safety data.
Why you should care: With the onset of CSA (Compliance, Safety, Accountability) in 2010, there was an onslaught of vicarious liability suits filed against 3PL’s and shippers claiming that the shipper/3PL did not exercise due diligence in hiring a motor carrier. Without a national hiring standard, each state is left to their own devices and interpretations of what due diligence in motor carrier hiring should be.