CSA reform group backs bill on carrier selection

June 12, 2014

A group of shippers, carriers and brokers formed to highlight the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program’s effect on capacity, competition and liability has voiced support for proposed legislation (H.R. 4727) that would shield shippers, brokers and others from liability if they take steps to confirm that the carrier has Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) operating authority and insurance and does not have an unsatisfactory safety rating. The legislation, which sets out a national hiring standard for carriers, was introduced last month by Rep. John Duncan (R-TN) and was spearheaded by the Transportation Intermediaries Association.

In a letter to its members, the Alliance for Safe, Efficient and Competitive Truck Transportation (ASECTT) said it applauds TIA’s initiative and offered what it termed a “friendly amendment” to the bill in order to broaden the protections to some types of carriers and intermediaries that might not be covered under the existing language.

ASECTT’s proposed revisions also would protect entities beyond negligent selection, said Tom Sanderson, ASECTT’s president. The groups recommended language aims also to trump many other state law causes of action that plaintiffs use to extend liability up the supply chain.

“We agree with the TIA that the time has come to seek a legislative solution to this problem and want to be helpful in forging the broadest based coalition possible,” Sanderson said in the letter to members.

Although the legislation does not mention CSA, one of the principal goals of H.R. 4727 is protecting shippers and brokers from legal claims based on the CSA data of carriers they hire. In praising the bill’s introduction last month, TIA said that it still sees CSA as a valuable internal tool for FMCSA personnel but that until the agency completes the safety fitness determination rulemaking, the FMCSA safety rating is the ultimate determination as to whether a carrier is safe.

TIA welcomed ASECTT’s support for a legislative solution, but it is standing by the current language.

"We praise ASECTT  and their work to date to address this important issue,” Robert Voltmann, TIA’s president and CEO, told Fleet Owner. The proposed legislation went through TIA’s Highway Committee process, “and after much discussion, the language that was introduced by Cong. Duncan is what the Committee and then TIA Board voted on, Voltmann said. “The legislation as introduced marks a careful compromise to address the creation of a national standard for hiring motor carriers and address industry concerns with the misuse of CSA data.”

H.R. 4727 faces a tough road in Congress as trial lawyers certainly will fight it bitterly. Opposition from trial lawyers almost scuttled efforts in the House this week to freeze carrier’s minimum liability insurance as part of the transportation appropriations bill.

About the Author

Avery Vise | Contributing editor

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