Owner Operator

February 2013

Issue link: http://read.dmtmag.com/i/103886

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Page 63 of 72

Broker basics By Robert Mucci To Vet or Not to Vet – a Broker or Shipper's Dilemma with Carriers W hether you are a shipper, work for a motor carrier broker, a third party intermediary, an insurance company, or are merely a member of the general public, we are all frequently reminded that the press and others often characterize 18 wheelers as a menace to both society and the motoring public. All you have to do is Google "18-wheeler fatal crash," sit back, and review 466,000 hits. It's what lead a judge in a 2003 California court case to characterized a motor common or contract carrier's activities as constituting "…an unreasonable risk of harm to others." So whose job is it to keep the public safe by monitoring companies that operate these heavy rigs? Believe it or not, some say it's the responsibility of the party shipping the goods or arranging the freight, and surprisingly not just the guy driving the truck. Prior to Congress' establishment of the Department of Transportation (DOT), motor carrier safety was the responsibility of the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC). After the DOT was up and running, responsibility for motor carrier safety was transferred from the ICC to DOT. The DOT then set up the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which was charged with keeping "unfit" truckers off our nation's roads. One by-product of "deregulation" has / Owner operator/ February 2013 / / been the slow disappearance of the Department of Transportation's "federal cops on the beat," whose sole duty it was to inspect and take out of service unsafe commercial motor vehicles. One might argue that we appear to have morphed from a society where an 'ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure' to one where numerous laws and regulations have been created in an apparent effort to impose post-loss blame on the perceived wrong-doers rather than on the regulatory authorities responsible for public safety. The "blame-game" has no place when it comes to commercial motor vehicle safety. Unfortunately, it appears the bureaucrat drafting regulations in a 72° F federal office building is more valued by his or her superiors than the inspector crawling under an 18-wheeler in the middle of January in Montana. In March 2011, the DOT issued a news release announcing that a settlement agreement had been reached with three trucking associations ending litigation over FMCSA's motor carrier enforcement program "Compliance Safety Accountability" (CSA). Since having invested considerable resources getting CSA up and running, FMCSA isn't expected to abandon its utilization of the CSA system anytime soon. One of the unintended consequences of this has been that the plaintiff's bar has been 54 OO0213_text2.indd 54 1/4/13 11:38 AM

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