Flaw in Highway Bill Would Hurt Small Carriers

A new highway funding bill has passed both the House of Representatives and the Senate, but the House version has a major flaw that would pose huge problems for small carriers and owner-operators.


The bill includes a new carrier hiring standard, which is meant to address liability for when there's an accident or when a broker or shipper is sued for "negligent hiring." According to the House version of the bill, someone like a broker can only hire carriers that fit these criteria:

  • Properly registered with the FMCSA
  • Has obtained the minimum insurance
  • Has a "Satisfactory" safety rating

The problem is that last bullet, since 83% of carriers aren’t rated at all, and another 3.5% are rated as “conditional.” That’s because most small carriers haven’t been reviewed in full by the FMCSA, which is the only way you can get a satisfactory rating.

Only 13 percent of carriers have been assigned a Satisfactory rating by FMCSA. (Source: DAT CarrierWatch)

The Senate version of the bill corrects the mistake, citing that companies can’t hire carriers with an unsatisfactory rating. Only 0.02% of carriers have an unsatisfactory rating.

Both OOIDA and TIA have asked for changes in the House bill, and the flaw could be fixed when the House and Senate bills are reworded to reconcile with one another.

Gary Land

Gary Lands heads up DAT's Fleet Compliance operations and has many years of experience keeping drivers running legal.


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