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If these two issues aren’t taxing enough, NASSTRAC has significant concerns regarding FMCSA’s draft of its 2011-2016 strategic plan. NASSTRAC is especially apprehensive about FMCSA’s potential regulation outlined in this draft plan and believes it is ultimately an overreach into the operations of shippers. While NASSTRAC continues to support increased safety on the nation’s highways, it also strongly opposes FMCSA’s plans to seek authority from Congress to regulate shippers, receivers, brokers, and freight forwarders. As a result, NASSTRAC recently filed its concerns with the FMCSA.
To be clear, NASSTRAC has consistently urged the agency to focus on its safety improvement goals while also recognizing the critical role the trucking industry has as it supports shippers and receivers of goods and, through them, the entire U.S. economy. Shippers devote extensive efforts and resources to facilitating motor carrier service and have received and implemented many recommendations from service providers that improve supply chain safety, efficiency, and security. Undoubtedly, professional supply chain management participants are focused on minimizing all unsafe or inefficient operations as well.
Therefore, shippers, receivers, and intermediaries have worked closely with motor carriers to minimize inventories, streamline supply chains, reduce costs, and increase economies during a time period in which truckers are driving more while highway crashes and fatality rates involving trucks are actually decreasing. In fact, the DOT recently announced that the rate of highway fatalities from accidents involving large trucks has declined to its lowest level since 1975, when the recording of such statistics had just begun. These developments reflect a marketplace that meets Congress’s economic goals when it first deregulated the trucking industry in 1980 and also promotes increased highway safety.
Clearly, our marketplace has no need for, nor would it benefit from, a massive expansion of FMCSA regulation. As NASSTRAC states in its filing, a draft of FMCSA’s strategic plan proposes such an expansion through its goal of “focusing outreach, oversight, and enforcement resources on the entire CMV transportation lifecycle.” FMCSA identifies “all the entities that control or influence the operation of CMVs, including all parties involved in the transport and logistics supply chain” as potential targets of FMCSA regulation. FMCSA apparently recognizes that its current jurisdiction is not so broad. NASSTRAC’s concern is that FMCSA will not strive to accomplish more with the authority it has, but that it will instead ask Congress to allow it to regulate millions of additional U.S. businesses. NASSTRAC’s filing underscored its strategy plan, where the first objective is to identify gaps in current legislative and regulatory authorization that prevent the FMCSA from reaching certain elements of the CMV transportation lifecycle (e.g., entities touching roadway movement of passengers and freight: shippers, receivers, brokers, freight forwarders) which may eventually affect the safety of others.
FMCSA’s proposed plan shows that safety is a priority, but it is also focused on other societal goals including security, hazmat safety, and consumer protection. Yet, remarkably, FMCSA doesn’t seem to be nearly as focused on ensuring the timely, dependable, and cost-effective transportation of goods between businesses and from businesses to consumers. Of course, without such transportation, the trucking industry would simply not exist. To the extent that excessive regulation undermines such a goal, motor carriers, their customers, consumers, and the economy will be poorly served. Costs would far exceed benefits if FMCSA regulation were extended to shippers, receivers, and intermediaries.
A key question regarding this issue still remains. If FMCSA were responsible for regulating the CMV transportation lifecycle, what types of regulatory initiatives would the agency actually implement? Apparently, FMCSA is asking Congress for authority to regulate shippers, receivers, brokers, and freight forwarders based on the premise that highway safety is not affected solely by motor carriers and truck drivers. This premise is unexceptionable. Regulation of shippers, receivers, and intermediaries is either necessary or it is desirable—not both. wt