FMCSA Faces Legal Challenges With New Rule

Kevin Anderson Regulations, Transportation

The FMCSA is in the rulemaking business yet again. One of the newest rule proposals by the federal agency is Safety Fitness Determination which will classify motor carriers as unfit to work under certain circumstances. Known as SFD, the new rule will regulate and introduce new methods for the agency to label companies as safe or not. Under the current safety rating system there are three different classifications a motor carrier can have. A motor carrier is rated as either satisfactory, conditional, or unsatisfactory. The current system is the CSA and BASIC system which uses behavior analysis and safety improvement categories to rate companies, but it has come under fire by lawmakers. Criticisms of the current system include the fact that it is too complex and difficult for the regulators to enforce evenly across a large, diverse industry. What the Rule Would Do The proposed rule would seek to make …

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 …

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 …

CSA 2010 Will Require Contract Revisions

Kevin Anderson Contracts, CSA 2010, Transportation

One of the critical changes CSA 2010 will make is the replacement of SafeStat with the Safety Measurement System (SMS). Under SafeStat carriers were rated as either “satisfactory”, “conditional”, “unsatisfactory” or “unrated”. However, with the change to SMS, carrier ratings will be replaced with a Safety Fitness Determination (SFD) of “Continue Operation”, “Marginal”, or “Unfit”. While this may appear to be mere semantics, it will require you to review and revise, as necessary, your carrier qualification standards and documentation. Contracts used by carriers (where the carrier subcontracts or “brokers” loads), shippers and brokers often require motor carriers to maintain a “satisfactory” safety rating. However, with the end of SafeStat, the “satisfactory” rating will no longer exist. The contract language will need to be changed to ensure the same contractual effect under the new SMS/SFD. Similarly, many equipment leases with owner-operators, independent contractors, and leasing companies require the vehicles leased to …