TIA Update:  National Motor Carrier Safety Selection

TIA Update: National Motor Carrier Safety Selection

Jason Gibson
Jonathan Falcon

During the week of June 10, 2019, Sunsetters Jason Gibson and Jonathan Falcon joined the Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA) in Washington, D.C. to advocate for third party logistics on Capitol Hill. They met with almost 200 Members of Congress, working to advance the Motor Carrier Safety Selection Standard (MCSSS) and defeating the THUD CSA Appropriations language. While the debate is far from over, the TIA, Sunset Transportation and the 3PL industry at large are laying the groundwork to ensure our voices are heard loud and clear.

More insight into the MCSSS, reposted from the Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA), the premier organization for third-party logistics professionals in North America and abroad:

The Problem:

The motor carrier industry is currently lacking in clarity and a massive safety hole exists on selecting motor carriers to haul our nation’s freight. Currently, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) still utilizes an outdated physical audit process to determine a licensed motor carrier safety rating. The Agency uses internal data collected from individual States to prioritize motor carriers for interventions and safety audits. Because of limited resources available to the Agency, the Agency is only able to touch a small portion of the motor carrier population and assign safety ratings.

That leaves 85% of the 555,000 active motor carriers with an “unrated” safety rating. These motor carriers are not unsafe carriers by any means, and arguably some of the safest on the highways because they have not done anything egregious enough to warrant an audit from the Agency. Never-the-less motor carriers live in a state of limbo and shippers and 3PLs that utilize them have to second-guess the on determining are these motor carriers safe or not, subjecting them to unnecessary liability concerns. President Obama introduced a rulemaking (Safety Fitness Determination) toward the end of his second term that would have shifted the safety rating process from one of audit to a data driven process. Unfortunately, this rulemaking has been delayed indefinitely. 

The safety aspect is only exacerbated because there is no Federal standard in place that shippers and 3PL must adhere to when selecting a motor carrier to complete a freight movement. There are over 3 million shippers and over 20,000 licensed 3PLs and freight forwarders selecting motor carriers daily, who should be required to check certain requirements of those motor carriers, before putting them on our nation’s roads and highways.        

The Fix:

The National Motor Carrier Selection Standard would require that all entities selecting motor carriers be required to:

  • properly registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA);
  • has obtained the minimum insurance; and
  • has not been given an “unsatisfactory” safety rating.

This standard would ensure that over 3 million entities that select motor carriers have the clarity they need to select a safe motor carrier or be held liable for negligent selection of a motor carrier if they do not follow the standard.

The legislation would also require the Agency to move forward with the Safety Fitness Determination (SFD) rulemaking that would update the safety rating process and bring it into modern times and remove all the confusion and conflicting status of motor carriers. Essentially, the rulemaking would implement a “red-light/green light” for entities selecting motor carriers.

The legislation does not reduce or eliminate liability for shippers and 3PLs selecting motor carriers nor does it reduce an individual’s right to bring forward a lawsuit. The language is not tort reform, it is a common-sense solution to address a huge safety concern in the industry, while eliminating confusion in the marketplace.     

For more info or questions, please feel free to reach out to the TIA Government Affairs team of Chris Burroughs and Will Sehestedt.