Letters: CSA 2010 Report, Safety Specialists, Brokers vs. Truckers

These Letters to the Editor appear in the June 14 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

CSA 2010 Report

I liked your special report on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010 so much that I am interested in acquiring more copies.

Teresa Borwegen



President

Borwegen Trucking Inc.

Greenville, N.Y.

Editor’s Note: The special report on CSA 2010 included in our April 26 issue is now available as a PDF online for downloading, at: www.ttnews.com/csa2010.

Safety Specialists

I’m writing in response to the May 31 article “New U.S. Plan Leads to Surge in Hiring of Safety Specialists,” which discusses the push to hire safety professionals as carriers prepare for Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010 (p. 1; click here for story).

We’ve noticed a parallel trend at our company, which manages carriers’ safety and compliance data to reduce their exposure to risk.

Historically, our clients have outsourced individual compliance activities such as log auditing and driver qualification file management. With the approach of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s CSA 2010, however, we’ve seen a shift toward total compliance outsourcing. Carriers are seeking not only CSA 2010 compliance services but also an entire compliance package.

We’ve identified a few reasons for this trend:

• Some carriers had to lay off safety personnel during the recession, and they can’t afford to bring them back. These carriers believe that total outsourcing is a more affordable solution.

• Other carriers are concerned about their ability to train their safety professionals to ensure compliance under CSA 2010 prior to the program’s national rollout. As Jim Parham said in your article, “It takes a lot longer to ramp up those operations than it does to close them down.”

• Still others don’t have systems in place that are capable of ensuring compliance. As Jeff Arnold of the North American Transportation Management Association stated in your article, carriers will need “tools to ‘drill down’ more extensively into their safety performance,” and “the information will be more real time.” CSA 2010 isn’t about doing the same thing in greater depth. It requires new systems and methodologies that carriers haven’t required in the past.

Whether carriers choose to hire new safety personnel or completely outsource their compliance function, one thing is certain: CSA 2010 is causing a sea change in the way carriers are approaching safety and compliance.

J.J. Singh

President and CEO

RAIR

Brookfield, Wis.

Brokers vs. Truckers

I never understand why truckers feel they have a right to special protection. What exactly is special about brokers? There is no national security issue here or possible environmental damage or risk of national financial collapse or even a disruption of the transportation system.

It is a business relationship just like any other, and businesses always should perform due diligence before contracting with another entity.

I have no sympathy for truckers who accept loads without assuring themselves of the broker’s desire and ability to pay. I do not see a justification for any bond.

We are a trucking company that does business with brokers all the time. We always check out the broker and have a contract in place before accepting a load. We turn down more loads than we accept, often because we are not certain of the other party. Nothing unusual here, just good business practices. Truckers who take loads from dicey sources should suffer the consequences and not go crying to the government for relief.

Jonathan Sales

President

B&H Systems Inc.

Elk Grove Village, Ill.

I’ve read with interest the recent letters concerning broker bonding (higher limits). I will support higher bonding limits if carriers are similarly required to post a performance bond a broker can file against when the carrier is responsible for an uninsured loss.

Most carriers employ delaying tactics when confronted with living up to their responsibilities. They usually do not pay unless forced to through offsets or collection. Then let’s apply the same bonding requirements to shippers and receivers who often do not pay brokers, carriers or each other.

We pay you, the carrier, whether we get paid or not and we pay you, the shipper/receiver when a loss occurs even though we may not be made whole in the end. I’m all for holding myself and my industry to a higher standard as long as the companies I do business with are prepared to do the same.

Op-ed writer David Dwinell’s statistics regarding broker mortality may or may not be accurate (5-10, p. 7; click here for previous Opinion piece), but what are the same statistics for carriers, shippers and receivers? I suspect entry-level carriers have similar failure rates and in some cases go out of business owing money to most, if not all, of their creditors, including brokers who entrusted them with their freight. What are the statistics for entry-level shippers and receivers? How do our industries compare with the average failure rate for new business entities of any type?

If by excess Mr. Dwinell means my industry is unnecessary, why does it exist? Perhaps it evolved out of the needs of carriers, shippers and receivers.

I know that what my staff has in combined years of experience and expertise is invaluable to our carriers and customers. We would have no business if we didn’t manage our cash flow responsibly and control our risk as best we can. We earn our small portion of the alleged $1.5 billion in excess broker commissions through conscientious application of our skills and good stewardship of our business.

The bias and outright hostility contained in these broker bond letters are obvious even to a used car salesman or a travel agent. There is a certain amount of the same in my letter, but when attacked, I assume a defensive posture. There is a lot of self-interest in their letters and in mine, but I take hope in the fact that most people have a better understanding of business in general and my industry in particular.

It will be a sorry day when “big business” and “academics” control who qualifies to be in business and who should just be content to work for them.

Randall Ward

President

Associated Freight Brokers Inc.

Yakima, Wash.

 

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