Using Carriers with Less than “Satisfactory” Safety Ratings?

John Anderson Q & A, Transportation

A broker-client asks if it is acceptable to use a carrier that suddenly has its safety rating reduced to “conditional” or “unsatisfactory” when that carrier has provided safe and reliable service for many years. The carrier claims that the change is because of erroneous information that it cannot remove from SafeStat, the carrier cannot get a DOT re-audit performed, and the DOT is too slow to recognize the corrections made.

Brokers, shippers and anyone else hiring carriers should NEVER use a carrier assigned, or given notice that it will be assigned, an “unsatisfactory” safety rating. Any person responsible for putting an unsatisfactory rated carrier on the road (for example, by tendering it a shipment) can and likely will be liable for any injuries and damages that result. Similarly, those hiring carriers should be reluctant to use any carrier with a “conditional” safety rating, for the same reasons.

Carriers are responsible for the safety of their own operations, and this includes maintaining a solid safety rating through on-going monitoring and corrective action. Do not let a carrier deflect its responsibility on to the DOT. You can be sure that injured parties and their attorneys will not accept that as an excuse for using a poorly rated carrier.