Tucker Blog

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Shippers, Brokers, Forwarders Threatened By FMCSA Coersion Rule

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (“FMCSA”) barged into every shipper’s door on May 13, 2014 and expanded its reach in an unprecedented way. 

FMCSA asked Congress for new powers in the MAP-21 legislation. FMCSA’s notice of proposed rulemaking (“NPRM”) shows just how much control FMCSA wants over shippers and brokers. (Hint: It’s a ton, and it’s scary!)  

As we previously reported, it is illegal and criminal to knowingly coerce a driver to break hours of service rules.  Coercion is defined as using force or threat of force to compel another to do something against his or her will.    Fair enough.  One can see the compliance and safety-related rationale for a rule like this.  However, the next bite FMCSA seeks to take is just impossible to swallow.

Under its proposed new rule, FMCSA feels brokers and shippers should be liable because they “should have known” that a delivery schedule  would break a driver’s hours  This not only shifts responsibility and liability in way that undermines safety and accountability, it also happens to be PRACTICALLY  not possible, in the real-world, for a broker or shipper  (or anyone other than the carrier itself) to know whether and how deliveries and driver schedules across a fleet can be managed to ensure compliance with HOS rules. It is untenable, unreasonable, and borderline, reprehensible, that FMCSA issues this NPRM.  Shippers of every size should write a letter, or comment online, by August 11, 2014, objecting to this nonsense.  See FMCSA CFR Parts 385, 386 and 390 [Docket No. FMCSA-2012-0377] RIN 2126-AB57 “Coercion of Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers; Prohibition.”