Amendment Aims to Thwart Threat to Smaller Carriers

November 3, 2015

By David Cullen

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An amendment offered by Rep. Jimmy Duncan (R-Tenn.) would allow motor carriers that have not been rated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to meet safety-eligibility requirements spelled out by the “Interim Hiring Standard” within the proposed long-term highway bill, which the House is slated to debate this week.

While the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform (STRR) Act (H.R. 3763) states that a motor carrier must have in effect a satisfactory safety rating from FMCSA, the Duncan amendment would insert the words “or be unrated” as well as adjust other language to clarify the intent of the hiring standard.

“The Duncan amendment clarifies that motor carriers who have not been prioritized for a compliance review by FMCSA due to their safe operations are equal in safety status to satisfactory rated carriers,” said the Transportation Intermediaries Association in a message to its membership. “This amendment is necessary to ensure that 447,665 unrated carriers, who are mostly small family-owned businesses, are not penalized by a flawed federal safety rating system.”

Last month, a letter signed by top executives of eight businesses and trade associations that together represent over 9,500 motor carriers, brokers and shippers was sent to the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee opposing the wording of the Interim Hiring Standard.

At the time, Joe Rajkovacz, director of governmental affairs & communications for the Western States Trucking Association, told HDT the language in the bill “could cripple small-business truckers.”

WST was among the signatories of the letter as were Apex Capital Corp., the Alliance for Safe, Efficient and Competitive Truck Transportation, the Auto Haulers Association of America and the Air & Expedited Motor Carrier Association.

Rajkovacz explained that by “allowing a Satisfactory Safety Fitness Determination [issued] by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to be an affirmative defense in litigation, [this provision] would establish having a ‘Satisfactory’ as a necessary prerequisite in contracting for trucking services.”

While Rajkovacz conceded that the section is “intended to give shippers and brokers an affirmative defense in litigation over whether they hired an ‘unsafe’ motor carrier (based on CSA data, not Safety Fitness Determinations), many of us believe this language will actually harm small-businesses because approximately 90% are ‘unrated’-- since they have never had a federal Compliance Review and have not been issued a Safety Fitness Determination by FMCSA."

The Duncan amendment is among over 260 that have been proposed to the $325-billion transportation-funding bill, which includes $261 billion for roads and bridges.

Also in the amendment pile is the controversial proposal by Rep. Reid Ribble (R-Wis.) to liberalize truck weights. The measure would allow individual states to increase the federal vehicle weight limit to 91,000 pounds for tractor-trailers equipped with a sixth axle.

According to Ribble, even though his amendment would add up to 11,000 pounds to a truck’s GCW limit, the resulting vehicle would operate more safely because its mandated sixth axle would provide it with “stopping power equal to or better than that of a five-axle truck.” The bill would also enable the Dept. of Transportation to require additional safety equipment on such heavier trucks.

Ribble noted that his proposal was written based on DOT safety and road wear data “to ensure that truck stopping times and pavement wear are as good or better than our current trucks.”


  1. 1. Kenith Langley [ November 04, 2015 @ 06:51AM ]

    The problem for small business Truckers and small fleets is because they rely heavy on brokers more then larger carriers that has connections with shippers. Let's take the top 10 larger Broker's firms look at the profit margin its well over 10 billion a year. That's a lot of money for companies that negotiate not to save the shipping companies money but to negotiate for their own profits
    Example : a shipper from Virginia may be shipping a load to Maine a 800 mile trip for $2800 to $3000 for that lane. The brokerage company would negotiate with a unrated carrier to move it for as cheap as possible. Negotiate mind game, first thing come out their mouth its paying over $2 a mile, on 800 miles plus tolls, then they say it's paying the truck $1800 that comes out to $2.25 mile. Small business owners will negotiate but the broker, every broker favorite saying this is a cheap customer they only paying 1900 and I'm only profit $100 that's all we have in the load I just need to move it but in reality they are profit $1000 or more..

    Broker companies should be getting less of the freight profit because they have no drivers payroll, equipment wear and tear, fuel, tolls, Highway taxes and high insurance cost. If smaller trucking companies were getting their fair share you would not find smaller carriers out of appliance because they would have the finances to pay their drivers a fair wage and keep their equipment up to date.

  2. 2. Armin Piric [ November 04, 2015 @ 07:53AM ]

    Right on point Kenith. Brokers are ripping us small carriers off. I think there should be some kind of limit on percentage they can take from a load. After all we are the ones doing all the hard work and dealing with all the big expenses. I don't take cheap freight as much as possible but if I don't take anything my trucks are sitting because there are many others who take it.

  3. 3. SQ609 [ November 04, 2015 @ 08:28AM ]

    I agree with you Kenith. The shippers need to come up with a solution to deal directly with the truck owners and eliminate the life blood sucking middle men we all know as brokers. They need to set aside a certain percentage of their freight for the small business owner operator trucking community instead of giving everything to the brokers and mega carriers. That right there alone would solve a lot of trucking's problems. I recall some years ago as an owner operator with my own authority I often did loads for the BIG orange mega carrier - Schneider over here in the northeast. The loads would pay $525 - $625 for a 180 mile round trip drop and hook load. 90 miles loaded one way and bring an empty trailer back. The pay varied depending on how the broker/dispatcher was feeling that day. Well the broker/dispatcher inadvertently by mistake one day sent me the rate sheet from the shipper showing that the loads actually paid them $1000 - $1100. I was pissed!! I called the broker/dispatcher and complained. That phone call got escalated to the higher ups. And let me just say that was the beginning of the end of my relationship with Schneider. They were more concerned about how I got a copy of the shipper's rate sheet to the point they threatened to stop calling me for loads. But my point is, that they came out making just as much, if not more off the load than me once you factor in the cost, and expense to move the load. Haven't done a load for them since and it's been well over five years ago. Damn blood suckers!!!

  4. 4. M.Beck aka The Dude [ November 07, 2015 @ 12:26AM ]

    Gentlemen, Kenith, Armin,& SQ609,
    It's hard to disagree with your statements, as they are Hard Felt as well as Heart Felt. CH was started in 1905, Schneider in 1935 or as they claim. That having been said, I trust none of us is over 80. So please let me digress. As I have pulled for both and now only 1. Also some my of own.
    We Don't Need More Government Regulation ! Do you not all agree...
    So might I please suggest... That we create "Our Own CO-OP" of
    of Independent Truckers ? Think UBER Gentlemen and Ladies !
    All of us O/O's that want to join say we kick in, I don't know ? maybe $200
    Think Fund Raising to a legitimate account like Fundraiser? Or something like the
    cost of 1 PMI right ? After our trust fund has acquired some cash, we
    assemble say the 1st 24 members and elect a board of trustees, establish a 800 # ,flyers and cards for all that have joined to pass out...
    Some ads in say HDT & Fleet Owner and most certainly OOIDA's Landline
    Of which I'm sure we all belong , Right ?
    for membership of course. an Office with a paid staff By US
    I hope your All caching my dream . Think CoOp Our OWN Dispatch that we promote on FOX ,Wall Street Journal etc... You get the Idea ...UBER ?
    An App that we create that you Log On any time your Empty or About to be . And WE Set the Rate .Signed THE DUDE

  5. 5. SQ609 [ November 07, 2015 @ 10:47AM ]

    Sounds easier said, then done. You can't get 3 truckers to agree on just about anything. And for the ones that do agree give more lip service than anything. They do more talking and less action. We don't stand together like we should. If all the independents stood together we would get their attention. But we don't. And they know this and take advantage.

  6. 6. Paul [ November 09, 2015 @ 05:54AM ]

    Check out They are working hard to develop an option for carriers and shippers to work direct.


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