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Article Deficiencies for Small Carriers

To whom it may concern:

NASTC was asked to chronicle all and any deficiencies that we felt were worrisome for small carriers in the current regulatory environment. This request was made by staffers for Senator Deb Fischer. We passed this request to Henry Seaton, ASECTT, Rick Gobbell, Jeff Davis, Fleet Safety Services LLC, Joe Rajkovacz, Western States Trucking Association, Mark Andrews, and others. The enclosed package is that compilation and taken in its entirety, it would seem that we, as a group, feel as if we’re the smartest people in the room and that FMCSA, the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee, CVSA, and all of the Safety groups (PATT, CRASH, MADD, Public Citizen, etal) haven’t a clue with their faulty rationales reflected in the HOS, CSA, and actions proposed and/or implemented by the agency or mandated by Congress. We appear on the face of this submission to be a total contrarian group opposed to everything. Nothing could be further from the truth.

This package comes across this way because of one simple fact:

99% of the “for-hire” carriers are not in the policy making loop and all policy, regs, and laws are greatly influenced, written, or submitted by the 1% of “for-hire” carriers who have for decades promoted the erroneous factoid that owner-operators and small carriers are unsafe with the corollary that large mega-carriers who spend millions, are inherently safer. This myth has been drummed into the safety establishment for almost 50 years resulting in the huge disconnect between safety and compliance, the inexcusable lacking of CSA and SMS methodology, and the illogical shortcomings of the HOS. All symptomatic of the mind set and faulty premises regarding big trucks and safety.

No longer should we quietly accept Draconian demands that come down from inside the belt-way with regs, guidance, mandates, and laws that reek of regulation without representation. Strictures that are passed primarily to harass the small, weak, and unrepresented at the competitive whim of monopolistic, mega fleets.

  • Take a look at the make-up of the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee. With the exception of Todd Spencer, no one represents small truckers and 6 members come from so-called safety groups (people who have had relatives die in a large truck accident), four or five from enforcement, with the remainder being unions, the insurance community, and big trucking.
  • Where does CVSA get its authority, funding, and unbridled power? It’s an ad-hoc, non-elected, non-appointed entity funded by the tax payers with little or no accountability.
  • When will someone hold the agency, Virginia Tech University, or the so-called Academy of Scientists accountable for their constant rubber-stamping of anything the agency wants to prove from one of its “studies”. Over and over the lack of sound science has been pointed out and results have been predictably unsupportable. Some of the more recent absurdities include the finding that CSA is “salvageable” with a larger and broader set of data, that lacking conclusive cost/benefit analysis a simple contribution of “expert opinion” will suffice, and the absolute refusal to look at Werner’s safety numbers vis-a-vis, the use of ELD’s prior to a mandate, and then, from their own study claiming the mandate would save 17 lives, a number far below any logical statistical standard deviation.

There are many more examples that were fortunately thwarted before passage, such as mandated speed limiters, increased insurance minimums, the sleep apnea debacle, the certified medical examiners registry, the unending attack on the owner/operator business model, and the idea that non-rated carriers should be treated as somehow deficient just because the agency couldn’t get around to rating them. Some really smart guy even made the comment that these “dastardly small carriers just weren’t having enough accidents to be measured.”

All of this said, NASTC would like to be on record (as we’ve stated many times) that we need to seriously consider the desk-top audit biennial rating for all carriers and the fixing of HOS as far as flexibility is concerned, as top priorities, consider driver turn-over as a serious safety issue, and for goodness sake put some equity small vs. large in the entire policy-making and enforcement rationale. Over time, many of the problems cited will be diminished to a workable level.


david owen
David Owen