NASSTRAC Questions FMCSA “Overreach” Into Shipper Operations

NASSTRAC, an industry association that represents the interests of freight shippers in all modes of transportation, filed comments with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in response to the agency's draft of its 2011-2016 strategic plan. NASSTRAC filed jointly with the Health & Personal Care Logistics Conference, which represents manufacturers, shippers and receivers of pharmaceuticals and health and personal care products. The basis of the filing is that both associations have significant concerns over FMCSA's potential regulation, and ultimately an overreach, into the operations of shippers in the proposed plan.

According to NASSTRAC's filing with the FMCSA, the agency's draft strategic plan proposes an expansion of its authority through a goal of "focusing outreach, oversight, and enforcement resources on the entire commercial motor vehicle (CMV) transportation life-cycle." NASSTRAC emphasizes that 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.

NASSTRAC says its concern is that FMCSA wishes to regulate millions of additional U.S. businesses.

“It's remarkable that FMCSA doesn't identify the timely, dependable and cost-effective transportation of goods between businesses and from businesses to consumers as part of its goals," said John Cutler, NASSTRAC’s legal counsel. "This is the fundamental reason we have a trucking industry. To the extent that excessive regulation undermines this goal, motor carriers, their customers, consumers and the economy will be served poorly. Costs would far exceed benefits if FMCSA regulation were extended to shippers, receivers and intermediaries."

NASSTRAC suspects that FMCSA's plans to expand its regulatory jurisdiction reflects complaints by truck drivers about time spent waiting to load and unload, as opposed to driving loaded miles. If this is the case, NASSTRAC stated, there are other entities contributing to the problem, including other carriers; federal, state and local officials; and other entities that are less susceptible to pressure by carries than are shippers, receivers and intermediaries. And ultimately, motor carriers have the option of declining business from shippers, receivers or intermediaries that do not act responsibly, it added.

The filing by NASSTRAC and HPCLC concludes by asking, if FMCSA were to take on responsibility for regulating the CMV transportation life-cycle, what regulatory initiatives does the agency have in mind?

“Apparently FMCSA is asking Congress to give it authorization 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," said Cutler. "This premise is unexceptionable. Both NASSTRAC and HPCLC use this filing to make their point that they do not believe regulation of shippers, receivers and intermediaries is either necessary or desirable."

To view the filing to the FMCSA opposing its draft 2011-2016 strategic plan, visit www.FreightAdvocacy.org.

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