Highway Bill Hits House Floor; Still Time to Help Your Industry

This week, the U.S. House of Representatives will consider a six-year reauthorization of Surface Transportation Programs. The bill as approved by the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee is a bi-partisan $325 billion bill which will support the nation’s highway system and transportation infrastructure while making significant policy updates until 2021. Included in this bill are not only the funding for road repairs and new surface transportation projects, but also critical provisions that will streamline and reform agency initiatives.

In addition to including an amended version of TIA’s top legislative priority, a National Hiring Standard for Motor Carriers, the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform (STRR) Act includes:

  • Total reform of the CSA Initiative at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (including the removal of CSA scores and data from public view until a report is completed on the program and recommendations for improvement are implemented)
  • Deadlines for long-running and overdue rulemakings including Electronic Logging Devices and the National Clearinghouse for Controlled Substance and Alcohol Test Results of Commercial Motor Vehicle Operators
  • A requirement for a detailed report on the necessity and potential economic impacts of an increase in the minimum financial responsibility for motor carriers
  • A requirement for a detailed report on the average length of delay for commercial motor carriers to load and unload their vehicles, the economic impacts of those delays, and the extent to which the delays result in violation of motor carrier safety regulations

While this bill has many good aspects, TIA needs your help to improve the House of Representatives’ version of the National Hiring Standard by expanding the standard to include unrated carriers. The standard as currently written by the House protects only entities who hire motor carriers with a “satisfactory” safety rating from negligent selection lawsuits.

“Satisfactory” rated carriers make up only 13% of the motor carrier industry. As is common knowledge to many TIA members, “unrated” carriers are critical to national commerce and are perfectly safe. It is critically important that the House improve the current standard to include protections for companies who hire both “satisfactory” AND “unrated” motor carriers. There are over 400,000 unrated motor carriers in operation across the country, many of whom are small businesses who have simply never done anything wrong that would trigger an FMCSA audit and safety rating. Unrated carriers are safe carriers, and should be available for use by shippers, brokers, and receivers without the risk of lawsuit.

To contact your Member of Congress and support this change, click here now.