News roundup, May 7: OOIDA presses Congress for brokered transaction transparency

Trucking news & briefs for May 7, 2020: 

OOIDA asks for two specific broker-related provisions in next COVID relief bill
Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association President Todd Spencer penned a letter to Congress dated May 6 that asks for two specific changes to existing regulations around the record-keeping requirements of transportation intermediaries.

Those regulations are contained in 49 Code of Federal Regulations 371.3, and require intermediaries such as brokers to keep records of all freight transactions. “Each party to a brokered transaction also has the right to review the record of the transaction,” Spencer wrote, as Overdrive has recently underscored as well. “This allows our members to know precisely how much a shipper paid the broker and how much the broker then paid the carrier.” Spencer urged lawmakers to include these changes to the current provisions in the next, “Phase 4” COVID-19 crisis relief effort, currently being debated in Congress:

(1) Require brokers to immediately provide an electronic copy of each transaction record as required by 49 CFR 371.3 once the contractual service has been completed. No exceptions.

(2) Explicitly prohibit brokers from including any provision in their contracts that requires a carrier to waive their rights to access the transaction records as required by 49 CFR 371.3.

Brokers, Spencer said, in some instances get around carriers’ review attempts by including waiver language in broker-carrier contracts, where carriers give up their right to review such records by signing. Spencer outlined an example of language from “one of the nation’s largest brokers. … OOIDA discourages [signing away the right to review], but the practice is so prevalent that truckers often have no other choice if they want to haul a brokered load.”

There’s a reason that kind of contract language is prevalent, said Transportation Intermediaries Association President Robert Voltmann. Most shippers themselves “have strict non-disclosure requirements in their contracts” with brokers, necessitating brokers to shield themselves from any requirement to disclose.

Carrier insistence on reviewing transaction records, Voltmann said, “will result in our members not being able to utilize those carriers to meet the shipping needs of those shippers.”

In the long run, he added, “it will hurt the small business truckers.”

Other barriers erected to reviewing records, Spencer said in his letter to Congress, include requirements such as the necessity to visit the broker’s place of business during regular hours for an in-person review: “Brokers know this makes it virtually impossible for most carriers to access records. Further, when a carrier tries to assert his/her right to review this information, the broker is unlikely to contract with them again.”

OOIDA contends that efforts to evade the right to review are “increasingly resulting in carriers assuming – fairly or not – that brokers have something to hide,” Spencer said.

TIA’s Voltmann said the changes OOIDA is asking for are unnecessary. He also implies that the current right to review itself is an outdated reg written for a different time, the mid-1960s when “brokered rates were often quoted as a percent of the payment.”

“That is not the case today,” he said, when such rates are negotiated in fixed amounts, he said. “Either the carrier accepts the offered amount or they don’t. It’s the economy driving rates down, not the broker.”

OOIDA’s letter comes at a time when the coronavirus crisis has sent demand for trucking to exceedingly low levels, and in the volatile spot market it hasn’t been hard to find rate offers insulting to any cost-aware owner-operator, as Overdrive‘s reported. Some of the grassroots demonstrators galvanized in part by these and other issues, germane to the very survival of their businesses through this crisis, today entered their 7th day parked with their trucks along Constitution Ave. between the White House and Washington Monument.

OOIDA’s letter can be read in full at this link.

Homeland Security launches free truck routing app
The Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, along with the Idaho National Laboratory, launched this week a new tool for truck drivers to assist in route planning.

The free Commercial Routing Assistance web-based app allows users to input their starting point and destination, then plots multiple routing options and shows any restrictions in place in states along the route, such as those in effect during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The nation’s critical infrastructure and essential services rely on the ability to move goods along our transportation systems, and disruptions can cause supply chain issues and ripple effects across the country, said Bob Kolasky who leads CISA’s National Risk Management Center. “This app will help the trucking industry operate effectively and efficiently and prepare for emergency situations in order to ensure the delivery of goods and resources to government, industry and the American public.”

The service currently shows which states have and don’t have a CDL expiration extension, a CDL medical grace period, increased size and weight limits and more.

MEASURING AND VISUALIZING RECOVERY | The Geotab telematics provider today announced the launch of its Commercial Transportation Recovery Dashboard, available via this link. The dashboard compared vehicle activity data based on aggregated and anonymized data processed from more than 2 million Geotab-connected vehicles, globally. It hopes to depict the current state of COVID-19 recovery week to week and aids in visualizing impacts on commercial transportation and trade activity. Benchmarking against pre-COVID-19 activity, it provides insights with four indices: 1) Activity: Representing data from North America, this index depicts the daily volume of trips made by commercial vehicles. 2) Trade: Measuring the daily volume of trips made bi-directionally across the Canada/U.S. border and the U.S./Mexico border. 3) Fuel: Depicting the daily fuel fill-up events captured by commercial vehicles in North America, segmented by vehicle class (heavy-duty, light-duty, passenger, etc). 4) Industry: Examining the daily volume of trips from commercial vehicles segmented by industry type in North America.MEASURING AND VISUALIZING RECOVERY | The Geotab telematics provider today announced the launch of its Commercial Transportation Recovery Dashboard, available via this link. The dashboard compared vehicle activity data based on aggregated and anonymized data processed from more than 2 million Geotab-connected vehicles, globally. It hopes to depict the current state of COVID-19 recovery week to week and aids in visualizing impacts on commercial transportation and trade activity. Benchmarking against pre-COVID-19 activity, it provides insights with four indices: 1) Activity: Representing data from North America, this index depicts the daily volume of trips made by commercial vehicles. 2) Trade: Measuring the daily volume of trips made bi-directionally across the Canada/U.S. border and the U.S./Mexico border. 3) Fuel: Depicting the daily fuel fill-up events captured by commercial vehicles in North America, segmented by vehicle class (heavy-duty, light-duty, passenger, etc). 4) Industry: Examining the daily volume of trips from commercial vehicles segmented by industry type in North America.

Trucker named Highway Angel for assisting fellow driver at accident scene
Bob Ward, a truck driver out of Columbus, Georgia, has been named a Highway Angel by the Truckload Carriers Association for helping another trucker who was seriously injured in a rollover crash.

Ward and his student driver, Anthony Breuil, were driving west on I-40 west of Amarillo, Texas, when they saw a truck in the eastbound lanes blow a steer tire, cross the median and the westbound lanes, and land on its passenger side.

The pair stopped safely, and while Breuill put out safety triangles, Ward ran to the overturned truck.

Bob WardBob Ward

The driver was unhurt, but the co-driver who had been sleeping was thrown out of the sleeper and into the dash and windshield, sustaining serious injuries,” Ward said.

Ward had received emergency medical training while in the military, and he and another driver helped the injured driver, stabilized him and got him out of the truck through the windshield. They then improvised a backboard using a door from one of the cabinets in the sleeper.

Once they got the man out, Ward cut off the man’s jeans and saw he had a shattered hip and broken leg. He then manipulated the man’s left leg to restore circulation to his foot.

“He was in bad shape and at the point of going into shock,” Ward said. “Being 40 miles outside of Amarillo, it took the ambulance over forty-five minutes to arrive.”

For his willingness to help, Ward received a certificate, patch, lapel pin and truck decals. His employer at the time, CFI, also received a certificate acknowledging their driver as a Highway Angel. Ward now drivers for Anderson Trucking out of St. Cloud, Minnesota. EpicVue sponsors the TCA Highway Angel program.

The Business Manual for Owner-Operators
Overdrive editors and ATBS present the industry’s best manual for prospective and committed owner-operators. You’ll find exceptional depth on many issues in the 2021 edition of Partners in Business.
Download
Partners in Business Issue Cover