Owner-Operators Demand FMCSA To Evaluate Brokered Rates

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The FMCSA is being asked by Owner-Operators everywhere to take a closer look at how brokered transactions are handled.
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With regards to plenty of uproar in the community, The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration decided to hear the truckers out in a listening session during the Mid-America Trucking Show on Friday, March 31st. And many comments, questions and requests were made regarding brokered transaction transparency; a serious topic in the realm of logistics. This is all a part of their move to garner further feedback from freight brokers and motor carriers on the topics of guidance and proposals similar to brokers. Throughout the session, the FMCSA has made it known that they would hold a rulemaking proposal of sorts at some other point in time, as a result of being granted a petition from the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

Ken Riddle, the FMCSA Office Director, Registration and Safety Information, was very vocal about the agency’s stance on transactions. “It’s important to note that the decision to grant these petitions and commence a rulemaking proceeding does not mean that the regulatory changes in question will ultimately be adopted. FMCSA determines whether a proposed provision is adopted as part of a final rule on the basis of all available information developed in the course of the rulemaking proceedings.”

It’s important to remember that the FMCSA has accepted comments on other matters of interest to brokers this week.

The first is a proposal that would change the rules of how brokers and freight forwards accept financial responsibilities in alternative protocols. Additionally to that, the agency has also mentioned that they would love to hear about interim guidance, as they have back in November, with a specific focus on the clear distinguishments between “bona fide agents” and “broker.” While truckers and brokers alike may very well know these differences, it’s important to hammer down the point anyway, just so the general public is not caught in the middle without a clue of who to make checks out to.

So how’d the town hall go?

Fair. At the Mid-America Trucking Show or MATS, FMCSA reps were keen to listen to small carriers, owner-operators and other concerned members of the community when it came to rates transparency. Some individuals in particular highlighted how in spite of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations rule of Part 371.3 (c), where it states every party within a brokered transaction has “the right to review the record of the transaction required to be kept by these rules,” many brokers ask carriers to waive said rights before shipping their loads. When noting this, such a collective sigh was heard when the realization dawned on everyone in attendance: If not this rule, then which rules do the FMCSA stand by?

This isn’t to say that the FMCSA has to regulate brokers’ pay or anything. Rather, they should be offering a gentle reminder that brokers need to go through with the process, even if it means providing records of a brokered transaction. Under which circumstance, the industry could improve upon itself with ease.

What little the FMCSA did say was enough to beg even more questions. They stated how transparency regulations have always been crucial in their oversight of legal brokered transactions. However, with all the accidents and liabilities that have and can still be overwhelming with commercial vehicles, much of their focus has been shifted as of late to commercial motor vehicle safety.

In other words, they’re not caring enough about brokered transaction and rate transparency to really put an end to laziness or selfishness found in-house. Truly disappointing, but one can hope that with the introduction of stricter guidelines for commercial motor vehicle safety, that this still-integral issue can be pushed to the forefront of their focus as soon as possible.

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