FMCSA Announces Changes to Compliance, Safety, Accountability Program

Kevin Anderson CSA 2010, Regulations, Transportation

Changes are afoot with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The most recent changes announced by the agency involve their Compliance, Safety, Accountability program (or CSA) and how they will deal with reporting crashes on a fleet’s record. These changes should address some concerns the industry has had over their program. The purpose of the CSA is in its name, safety and accountability. As a result, when a crash is the fault of another, or if a company has not been in a crash in a long time, there is less emphasis on actual safety and accountability – particularly if the crash is the fault of another party. These proposed changes may go a long way helping the the industry and agency come to terms. Two Year Program Over Crash Accountability To address the strength of the accountability in CSA, the FMCSA announced a program that will give companies an …

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Under Scrutiny at Capitol

Kevin Anderson CSA 2010, Regulations, Transportation

The FMCSA is nominating a new agency head, Scott Darling. As part of the process, he is sitting through confirmation hearings and facing tough questions by congressmen about his agency, its mission, and its objectives. Part of this scrutiny is due to the recent reforms congress passed in the FAST Act. Many of these reforms were enacted to reign in what some feel has been a runaway agency. The new man at the top of the agency was nominated by the president after spending a career in several different transportation-related jobs. He has been with the FMCSA since 2012, and before that worked for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. Now, before he can take the job, he must pass the investigating eye of the senate. CSA Study to Begin One of the subjects the newly appointed agency head faced in hearings was the implementation and rework of FMCSA’s Compliance, Safety, …

Trucking Industry Gets Some Predictability With Bill Passage

Kevin Anderson Hours of Service, Regulations, Transportation

Washington D.C. seems to contain a political environment where little if anything gets done anymore. As a refreshing change from this culture, the trucking industry should benefit from the recent passage of a six-year highway bill. The final vote in the house on the bill was 363 to 64 in favor. While there were some positive aspects to the bill, the trucking industry did not get everything that they wanted. The amendment process lasted for two days and the house voted out several initiatives sought after by the trucking industry. The bill fell short of the spending that the White House originally asked for in their budget. Now the bill goes to the U.S. Senate for approval before it heads to the White House for a signature of approval or veto. Positive Changes for Trucking Industry Among the changes being heralded by the industry are the improvements that roads will …

A 40 Year Review: From Economic Regulation to Safety Regulation

Kevin Anderson Regulations, Transportation

Last month was my fortieth year anniversary of practicing transportation law. When I began practicing in 1975 the focus of the ICC was on economic regulation that limited the service carriers could provide both geographically and commodity-wise. Existing carriers could protest an application for new or an extension of authority and did so aggressively. To obtain authority to provide service a carrier had to establish at an administrative hearing that it was required by the “present or future public convenience and necessity”, which the protestants argued and presented evidence was not the case. Economic regulation also included rate regulation and the publication and filing of tariffs that had the force of law. The “filed rate doctrine” required a carrier to collect its tariff rate under all circumstances.  Brokers were virtually non-existent because they were required to charge their brokerage fee in addition to the carrier’s tariff charges.  Economic deregulation proceeded …

Proposed Legislation to Create National Hiring Standard, Reduce Influence of CSA BASICs

Kevin Anderson CSA 2010, Regulations, Transportation

U.S. House representatives have introduced an amendment to H.R. 1120 that would affect the trucking industry in several ways. H.R. 1120 was originally introduced by the House in 2013 as a way to prevent uncertainty in the labor market, and the amendment seeks to do the same with the trucking industry. The overall goals of the proposed language are to improve interstate commerce through creating a national standard for motor carriers. What H.R. 1120 Would Do The primary purpose of the new proposal would be to nationalize hiring standards for motor carriers. Under the language of of the bill, freight forwarders, brokers, shippers, and receivers would be required to do the following before hiring a motor carrier: Ensure that the motor carrier has current and accurate registration with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration; Check that the motor carrier has the minimum amount of insurance required under law; and Check …

FMCSA Updates SMS Methodology

Kevin Anderson CSA 2010, Transportation

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has enhanced the Safety Measurement System (SMS) Methodology so that it includes violations based on new cell phone use regulations and provides more detailed breakouts of some existing brake, wheel, and coupling regulations. In February, when the January snapshot is released, motor carriers may notice the following two changes. The addition of five texting and cell phone use violations in the Unsafe Driving Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) as outlined below. The violations reflect FMCSA’s decision on January 3, 2012 to ban commercial drivers from using mobile telephones while driving, which includes a ban on texting. Motor carriers should discuss the new violations with their drivers to ensure that they are aware of these requirements. Added Carrier SMS Unsafe Driving BASIC Violations Section Violation Description Shown on Driver/Vehicle Examination Report Given to Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) Driver after Roadside Inspection Violation Group …

Start the New Year Right with a Quick Checkup

John Anderson CSA 2010, Regulations, Transportation

Every business should periodically check its legal status and make sure that all information listed by various governmental agencies is up to date and correct. The checkup is not difficult and, unless you find something that needs to be updated or corrected, it should not be time consuming. Below is a list of what you should check on: 1.  Secretary of State Registrations.  Check the status of your business on the Secretaries of State websites in those states where your business is incorporated, organized or  formed, in which it is registered as a foreign corporation authorized to do business, or where you have trade name(s) registered. You need to confirm that all of the information listed is current and correct and, most importantly, that your business is in good standing. If it is not, you need to update the information. Particular care needs to be taken in naming your registered …

Updates from the TLA Annual Conference

Kevin Anderson CSA 2010, Regulations, Transportation

We (John & Kevin) recently attended the Annual Conference of the Transportation Lawyers Association and want to pass on to you several of the major issues discussed. To CSA or Not CSA. As you know, the issue of “carrier qualification” under CSA is a hot topic, and it has been argued and generally accepted by the industry that shippers, brokers and other users of carriers must use CSA and the “basics” to establish standards for the carriers they will use. This prevailing understanding was turned upside down by several presenters who argue that only the FMCSA is empowered to decide if a carrier is safe enough to operate. That is, 49 USC 385.1 states that Part 385 “establishes FMCSA’s procedures to determine the safety fitness of motor carriers, to assign safety ratings, to direct motorcarriers to take remedial action when required, and to prohibit motor carriers determined to be unfit …

TIA Releases New Carrier Selection Framework

Kevin Anderson Contracts, CSA 2010, Transportation

The Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA) released its new Carrier Selection Framework at its Convention on April 8, 2011. The Framework is designed to assist third-party logistics firms in developing and implementing their own individual carrier selection policies and procedures in light of the launch of CSA. The Framework does not provide a checklist or an industry standard for what should or should not be done, as there are no right or wrong answers. Rather, the Framework continues to stress TIA’s position that the FMCSA is the sole determinant of a motor carrier’s safety rating, not shippers or brokers. However, the Framework does suggest that brokers and shippers still check a carrier’s SafeStat safety rating and not use carriers with an “unsatisfactory” safety rating. At the heart of the framework is a list of possible considerations for selecting or reviewing motor carriers. The suggested considerations include: Verify that the carrier’s DOT …

Plaintiff’s Attorneys Try to Take Advantage of CSA

Kevin Anderson CSA 2010, Regulations, Transportation

We all knew it was coming; plaintiff’s attorneys have started to devise ways to use CSA against motor carriers. The American Association for Justice (formerly the Association of Trial Lawyers of America) published an article in its February 2011 magazine outlining how plaintiff’s attorneys (now wanting to be known as “civil justice attorneys”) should use particular discovery steps to use CSA and PSP data against motor carriers. While it is disconcerting to know that the plaintiff’s attorneys are organizing around CSA, it is beneficial to know how they plan to use the data so you can take steps to protect your company. The article had three main areas of focus. First, the Pre-employment Screening Program (PSP). We have discussed this program previously here. The plaintiff’s attorneys plan to use the PSP as a double edged sword. If you do not utilize the program to screen job applicants for safety violations, …