We had a phone call recently with our friends at TIA. They told us that the National Motor Carrier Hiring Standard bill was amended in mark up on October 21, 2015 and there were some critical changes made.
For those of you who may not be familiar with this legislation, it was introduced in the House by Rep. Jimmy Duncan (R-TN) in 2014. Currently, a National Motor Carrier Hiring Standard does not exist. While Congress has recognized the importance of a national hiring standard for the truck renting and leasing industries, it has not addressed the same need for motor carriers. This lack has caused state courts to take different approaches in interpreting FMCSA causing confusion in the marketplace and wasting valuable State resources. For example, a manufacturer or logistics company in California hires a motor carrier based in Ohio to move a load from Texas to New York. If that truck has an accident in Pennsylvania, the courts of any one of those states could have a different standard for what constitutes a safe motor carrier beyond that established by the U. S Department of Transportation.
This legislation asks Congress to establish a national hiring standard for motor carriers rather than allowing a patchwork of state court decisions to determine the hiring standard for motor carriers. Our interstate transportation system, part of the global supply chain, needs a national hiring standard. The language in the bill does not set a standard for gross negligence or criminal wrong-doing; it only establishes a national standard for carrier selection.
Important things to note:
First: In the bill, of the three items required for carrier verification (insurance coverage, valid MC/DOT number and DOT safety rating not “Unsatisfactory”) the committee changed the last one to read that the carrier must have a DOT safety rating of “Satisfactory” which represents only 13% of the truckload carrier population.
Second: to satisfy the Democrats, an additional provision was added to state that the carrier must not have been issued an “out of service” order prohibiting them from conducting motor carrier operations.
TIA said that Rep. Jimmy Duncan is planning on offering an alternative to the DOT Satisfactory requirement by adding that a carrier can either have a “Satisfactory” rating or be unrated (83% of motor carriers). If a carrier is unrated, it is generally an indication that FMCSA hasn’t needed to visit them for violations.
Third: TIA needs our help and support on this important legislation. Please email the members of the T&I Committee and let them know you support Rep. Duncan’s amendment and the National Motor Carrier Hiring Standard.
Many of you may be reading this wondering how does it impact me? Anyone who is a transportation decision maker can be subjecting their companies to untold risk by not properly vetting their transportation providers. The problem is how does the law define “due diligence?” Currently, it is up to the states and each state can provide their own interpretation. Given that the FMCSA has the authority to license and regulate motor carrier safety in order to protect the public and reduce commercial motor vehicle accidents, they should be setting guidelines but have failed to do so.
Let the shipper’s voice be heard on this important issue. Visit www.nasstrac.org and take action today.