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Carriers should be liable for bum background

GRAIN VALLEY, Miss. -- The OOIDA wants FMCSA to amend a proposal that allows carriers to provide inaccurate informa...

GRAIN VALLEY, Miss. — The OOIDA wants FMCSA to amend a proposal that allows carriers to provide inaccurate information during driver background checks.

OOIDA’s Sept. 26, 2003 comments were submitted in response to FMCSA’s June, 2003 proposal, "Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: Safety Performance History of New Drivers."

In 1994, Congress directed the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to provide more detailed safety data to be investigated by prospective employers including data gathered from all previous employers going back three years.

However, FMCSA’s proposal does not protect truckers from some carriers who manipulate background check information to retaliate against or blackball safe drivers who refuse pressure to violate safety rules most notably hours-of-service regulations, OOIDA points out.

OOIDA also believes the FMCSA should be concerned that inaccurate, outdated or imprecise data is often collected and distributed, which ends up unfairly damaging a driver’s ability to find work.

FMCSA’s proposal actually protects the carrier from liability, say OOIDA officials. In act, the rule emphasizes carriers’ supposed fear of their exposure to legal liability just for following the rules.

"OOIDA finds this fear suspect and vastly overstated," the association, in its comments to FMCSA, said. "We don’t understand why any carrier would express any fear of liability unless they know or believe the information they are using is false, or that they are engaged in improper use of such information."

OOIDA would like to see the following improvements to the proposal:

The carrier should be required to verify and attest that the information it transmits is true and that safety performances should only relate to the driver’s history with that carrier.

Drivers should have the right to review a safety performance history at any time not just during the hiring process, as the proposed rule suggests.
The current rule provides no meaningful ability to correct an inaccurate record.

The prospective employer should automatically give the driver a copy of any background information it receives; and FMCSA should require written authorization from a driver before a carrier begins a background check.

Without such knowledge, the driver will not know when his or her rights to review, attempt to correct or rebut the information have been triggered.

FMCSA should limit background investigations to information directly related to a driver’s safety qualifications under federal law; and to require the information reported be made with sufficient detail to ensure accuracy.

In addition, there should be some guidance as to whether the previous carrier should be required to delete any information older than three years from its records or from records it received from other carriers.

A former carrier should be given seven days, instead of the proposed 30 days, to respond to a driver’s attempt to correct or rebut employment information, so the driver can quickly begin working.

Founded in 1973, the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) is composed of more than 100,000 owner-operators, professional drivers, and small business truckers from all 50 states, and Canada. OOIDA represents the interests of this nation’s more than 350,000 small-business trucking professionals in the legislative and regulatory processes at both federal and state levels.

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Truck News is Canada's leading trucking newspaper - news and information for trucking companies, owner/operators, truck drivers and logistics professionals working in the Canadian trucking industry.
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