Self-certification is a fancy term for because I said so, and pretty much every human being who has or is a parent has heard or used that phrase.
“Momma, why can’t I grow up to be an airplane?”
“Because I said so. Now go find your sister and y’all put your shoes on.”
As grown adults, we all know little Timmy can’t grow up to be an airplane, because it’s physically impossible and we haven’t successfully robo-planed a human (that we know of – the gubmint might be keeping secrets). Instead of the copious amount of time it would take to explain the difference between organic and inorganic beings, and possibly laying some pretty heavy stuff on little Timmy about his gubmint, momma gives the short answer, because momma is tired and all she wants is for Timmy and his doggone sister to keep their shoes and their general person in the same vicinity for more than 12 seconds at a time. Momma self-certifies Timmy’s future, because she can. She knows Timmy can’t be an airplane, and Timmy can count on that self-certification, even if he doesn’t get a full explanation.
We all have instances in our lives where we seek professional guidance, and we certainly do not want the professional to be “self-certified.”
“Well Fred, it looks like we’re going to have to remove your left big toe and half your spleen.”
“Wait, I came in for an eye exam.”
“You need glasses, too.”
“Hold on, I’m not sure …”
“It’s OK, Fred, I’m a self-certified healthcare professional. Just mark a big purple X on your left big toe and pick out some frames, we’ll get you fixed up in a jiffy.”
And when you really think about it, self-certification doesn’t hold a lot of respect or legal value in most of your everyday situations.
“Driver, can you explain why you’re 12,000 lbs. over on your drives?”
“Officer, I’m certainly within my limit on my drives, I self-certified it when I left the shipper by signing the BOL.”
“Bring that thing on around back, son, and carry them books in with ya.”
So, I’m not really sure why we’re leaving the supreme command of safety, which, according to the FMCSA is a magic clock, up to “self-certification” standards. Doesn’t it seem pretty stupid to say, “This clock is going to save lives, but guess what, we’re going to let the manufacturer be the judge of whether or not it’s up to standard.”
How about this? Exchange the word “clock” for “medication” in that sentence and see how far it flies.
If we’re really talking about saving lives and we’re really talking about safety, there is absolutely no difference in the two. If this is about safety, then make it safe before you make it a law. “Because I said so” isn’t good enough.