Guest comment by Kenny Lund, vice president, Support Operations, Allen Lund Company
Back in May 2012, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) stopped pretending they were the government agency that indicates which carriers are safe to use. Instead, they issued a statement saying that shippers and brokers should use the information FMCSA provides to determine whether or not a carrier is safe to use themselves.
This CSA information from FMCSA is severely flawed because they admit there is only information on 40% of the carriers on the road. They have not adjusted their point of view except to say: "A thorough review of SAFER, L&I, and SMS provides users with an informed, current, and comprehensive picture of a motor carrier's safety performance." Except that it doesn't.
More than two years have passed since the launch of CSA and they still have a policy in direct conflict with their court settlement with ASECTT. Unbelievable! The government agency tasked with identifying safe and unsafe carriers has simply quit and admitted defeat. If the information on carriers is to remain in the public view, the FMCSA must immediately address the Safety Fitness Determination (SFD).
Simply put, this is the "yes" or "no" determination by the government if a carrier can operate. FMCSA has admitted that this is years away. To put this in perspective, this is the equivalent of the FAA saying to the public: here is the data on licensed airlines we track but we will no longer try to determine if airlines are safe - do it yourselves!
In evaluating and interacting with carriers, government agencies issue a license for each trailer, tractor, and every driver, and they grant authority for the carrier to operate. Once added up, that equals four different ways to evaluate carriers and inject safety guidelines which help them!
Yet they refuse to make the final determination on the safety fitness of a carrier. They try to force shippers and transportation brokers to use FMCSA's outdated, incomplete and unreliable information on websites to try and make an informed decision on the fitness of carriers available. While brokers and carriers are left with inaccurate data, lawyers offer seminars on how to use this to their advantage in order to sue shippers, brokers and carriers. It is the equivalent of making it possible to sue the travel agent when an airline or cruise line has an accident.