The National Carrier Hiring Standard survived in the six-year transportation reauthorization bill, which the House of Representatives passed last Thursday. Before the hiring standard can become law, the House version must be reconciled with the language in the bill passed by the Senate in July.
House’s highway bill contains a flaw
While brokers may find reason to celebrate the inclusion of the carrier hiring standard in the House bill, a major flaw remains. The bill, as currently written, states that before using a carrier, a broker or shipper must ensure that the carrier is:
The chart above shows that most carriers have not yet been rated by the FMCSA. Only 13 percent of carriers have been assigned a Satisfactory rating. (Source: DAT CarrierWatch)
- Properly registered with the FMCSA.
- Has obtained the minimum insurance.
- Has a satisfactory safety rating.
The flaw is contained in the third point. A previous version of the hiring standard used the wording “Has not been given an unsatisfactory safety rating.” The Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA) argues that brokers and shippers should also be allowed to use unrated carriers.
“Satisfactory-rated carriers make up only 13% of the motor carrier industry,” TIA said in a statement emailed to its members. “There are over 400,000 unrated motor carriers in operation across the country, many of whom are small businesses who have simply never done anything wrong that would trigger an FMCSA audit and safety rating.”
Last week TIA called for its members to email their representatives in the House, asking them to add unrated carriers to the bill’s language. Hundreds of TIA members emailed their representatives, and Congressman Jimmy Duncan (R-TN) was set to offer an amendment to include unrated carriers, but he withdrew the amendment.
According to TIA, House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) and Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-OR) had an agreement to not support any amendments that would change the language of the base text of the bill. They asked him to withdraw his amendment and assured him the issue would be corrected when the House and Senate meet to reconcile their two bills. The reconciliation process is expected to kick off this week. Action is expected soon, as current highway funding expires on Nov. 20.
OTHER TRUCKING REGULATIONS
TIA has been trying for years to include the hiring standard provision in a law, and has called it the group’s top legislative priority. TIA noted that the hiring standard was one of the few controversial issues to survive in the 500 page bill, in which there were more than 100 amendment votes.
Removing CSA scores from public view
The House bill includes other legislation that should benefit brokers and hopefully lead to fewer lawsuits. The bill calls for the removal of CSA scores and data from public view until a report is completed and recommendations are made for improvement. Many trucking industry groups, including TIA, have argued that FMCSA’s Compliance, Safety, and Accountability scores don’t accurately reflect a carrier’s accident risk.