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Which Way Are You Going to Go Here? Part I of II
There are two major schools of thought in regard to how a freight broker should properly select a motor carrier to move freight for a customer. These two opposing ideas may have profound and/or damaging ramifications as brokers begin their search for a truck.
Let me explain …
In 20210, the Federal Motor Carrier Administration (FMCSA) initiated their carrier rating system called, B.A.S.I.C.S. – Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category or CSA2010 for short.
By applying the Safety Measurement System (SMS) methodology, carriers are ranked with other carriers in seven categories: Unsafe Driving, Vehicle Maintenance, Crash Indicator, Hours-of-Service Compliance, Controlled Substances/Alcohol, Hazardous Materials Compliance and Driver Fitness.
SMS scores (except for Crash Indicator and Hazmat) are made public on the FMCSA website and carriers, brokers, insurance companies, financial institutions and other third-parties rely upon them to one degree or another.
The SMS methodology is employed within a whole slew of potential violations and scores were intended as a basis for FMCSA’s intervention when carriers exceeded certain thresholds on their scores; they were also intended for third parties to use in carrier selection.
Now, here’s the hitch in all of this …
There are two opposing schools of thought:
1. One group instructs BASIC users to employ a host of questions/investigations with carriers related to the BASIC scores to help make our highways safer. They see the importance between BASIC scores and using them as potential crash indicators. And further, by making the necessary investigations into a carrier’s safety profile before using them, a freight broker supposedly avoids being negligent in carrier selection where law suits abound.
This group feels that brokers may rely too much with on-time deliveries and profits over safety.
2. The second school believes that brokers may end up trying to “second-guess” FMCSA’s intent where trucking companies operate in a vast arena of potential violations with each violation having a related “severity” score. They further believe that it’s only the FMCSA that is responsible to certify that carriers are properly authorized, licensed and insured, leading to the conclusion that “safe to operate is safe to use”.
The second school also feels that no matter what system used to investigate/question carriers, it may backfire on them in a court of law where plaintiffs seek to uncover broker “negligence”.
Now, mind you – there are attorneys who practice law in defense of freight brokers; likewise, there are attorneys who practice law in prosecuting freight brokers.
This very brief summary on the two schools of thought falls far too short of a full understanding but it will essentially lay out the two opposing views.
And there are many, many questions for both sides which go beyond the scope of this report. I’ll present some good questions in Part II of this report.
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