Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE) and co-sponsor Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) have introduced a bill that aims to create a “national hiring standard” for motor carriers without using the controversial BASIC data produced by the Federal Motor Carrier Administration’s CSA safety-compliance program.

The “Transportation and Logistics Hiring Reform Act” (S.1454) would require that before a shipper, broker, forwarder, and/or receiver hires motor carrier, they would only have to ensure that the motor carrier is properly registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration; has obtained required minimum insurance; and has not been assigned an “unsatisfactory” safety rating.

The bill would specifically prohibit any data (such as that generated by CSA) 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 the motor carrier. S.1454 would also would require FMCSA to complete its Safety Fitness Determination rulemaking within an 18-month period.

S.1454 is similar to H.R. 120, legislation that was reintroduced in the House by Rep. John Duncan (R-TN) earlier this year.

The Transportation Intermediaries Association is lobbying for passage of both measures. TIA contends that putting in place such a national hiring standard would “clarify and standardize industry best practices for hiring safe motor carriers” by removing “the confusing and conflicting vagaries of the CSA BASIC data as it relates to the negligent selection of a carrier.”

“Currently, industry stakeholders are often asked to second guess the FMCSA on determining which carriers are safe to operate and those that are not,” TIA said in a statement. “Congress tasked the FMCSA with evaluating motor carrier safety and empowering them with the sole authority to revoke the interstate operating authority of unsafe motor carriers or otherwise place unsafe motor carriers out-of-service and off the road.”

“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.

“TIA members are tired of having their livelihood put at risk every time a motor carrier is hired, because the Agency lacks the resolve to remove unsafe carriers from our nation’s highways,” he added. “Furthermore, this bill is vital to improve the overall safety of the transportation industry.”

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