The Senate version of a bill aimed at protecting shippers and brokers from liability claims related to carrier selection was introduced late last week.
The “Transportation and Logistics Hiring Reform Act” (S. 1454) by Sens. Deb Fischer (R-NE) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) would create a national hiring standard for motor carriers.
The bill serves as a “vital reform measure” to address the “confusing and conflicting vagaries” created by Compliance, Safety, Accountability scores within the marketplace, says the Transportation Intermediaries Assn.
“As Congress continues to work towards a multi-year transportation reauthorization bill, this bill is a key step towards helping American businesses who are being unfairly brought into lawsuits for no fault of their own,” said TIA President and CEO Robert Voltmann in a statement. “TIA members are tired of having their livelihood put at risk every time a motor carrier is hired, because the [Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration] lacks the resolve to remove unsafe carriers from our nation’s highways.”
S. 1454 is similar to H.R. 1120 that has been introduced in the House by Rep. Jimmy Duncan (R-TN). The bill would require that before hiring a motor carrier, a shipper, broker, forwarder, and/or receiver ensure that the motor carrier is:
- Properly registered with the FMCSA
- Has obtained the minimum insurance; and
- Has not been given an “unsatisfactory” safety rating.
The national hiring standard would clarify and standardize industry best practices for hiring safe motor carriers, TIA contends. Currently, industry stakeholders are often asked to second guess the FMCSA on determining which carriers are safe to operate and those that are not.
Additionally, S. 1454 would prohibit any “data” other than the national hiring standard from being used as evidence against an entity in a civil action for damages resulting from a claim of negligent selection or retention of such motor carrier. The bill would also require the Agency to complete the Safety Fitness Determination (SFD) rulemaking within an 18-month period.
“The bill … establishes a uniform standard which can be relied upon by anyone hiring a motor carrier,” said Ben Campbell, chief legal officer and secretary, C.H. Robinson.