Truck brokers want Congress to call out illegal dispatching
The nation’s largest advocate for truck brokers is looking to Congress to help clarify regulations with the goal of eliminating illegal dispatching. Potential changes that have riled legitimate operators within this sector of the trucking industry.
The Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA) has already filed a petition at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requesting that the agency issue a rulemaking aimed at raising standards for dispatch services. That petition, which generated over 160 comments since it was filed in November, is still under review, according to FMCSA.
But while FMCSA considers whether to issue a proposed rule, TIA is also “floating the idea” of getting lawmakers to include the changes as part of the next highway bill, Chris Burroughs, TIA’s vice president of government affairs, told FreightWaves.
“We didn’t try to get language in [infrastructure bills] that were proposed last year, but we consider this more of a priority now, so that’s why we’re considering getting Congress to include it in there this time,” Burroughs said.
Low rates spark debate
The plunge in freight demand and corresponding drop in rates within the trucking industry at the onset of the pandemic last year was particularly hard on small owner-operators – those most likely to make use of dispatching services.
The harsh economic climate led to trucker demonstrations in Washington in late spring 2020 with owner-operators alleging, among other things, that brokers were cheating them out of their rightful portion of the transportation rates paid by shippers. The demonstrations caught the attention of then-President Donald Trump, who claimed independent truckers were being price gouged.
Freight Dispatch Company
Trump’s assertion was immediately refuted by TIA, which maintained the low rates were a consequence of supply and demand. “We simply aren’t shipping much of anything and there are too many trucks chasing too little freight,” stated TIA’s then-President and CEO Robert Voltmann at the time.
As it turned out, freight volumes, and rates, bounced back almost as swiftly as they fell (see SONAR chart). But the extreme volatility laid bare a simmering controversy affecting brokers, freight dispatchers and small-business truckers, resulting in calls for more rate transparency and changes in how the industry is regulated.