The suit brought against the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration last summer by the Alliance for Safe, Efficient and Competitive Truck Transportation (ASECTT), with four other trade associations and several trucking companies and brokers, saw action in December, as plaintiffs filed written arguments in court. ASECTT Chairman Tom Sanderson, writing in an email to ASECTT members, said FMCSA “will file its brief in opposition on January 8, 2013, and our rebuttal brief is due on January 22. Oral argument will be scheduled soon thereafter” in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
The plaintiff coalition charges that FMCSA shirked several responsibilities to broker, shipper and carrier communities with its Compliance, Safety, Accountability program, which it views as constituting a “new legislative rule issued not in accordance with law and without observance of” required procedure for such rules, among other particular charges in the filed petitioners’ brief.
At issue is guidance FMCSA published on its website in May 2012 for users of its public Safety Measurement System (SMS) for motor carriers that, ASECTT and others party to the suit contend, encouraged a view of SMS results as constituting reliable indicators of motor carrier safety and sanctioned the use of SMS results for business decisions, such as a broker’s and/or shipper’s selection of a carrier. This was in spite of “numerous logical and statistical flaws [in the SMS] that misrepresent the safety performance of motor carriers,” the brief alleges, as well as a lack of consideration that the system’s methodology “inflicts disproportionate harm on small carriers.”