Thursday, February 17, 2011

Product placement

Editor's note: The page on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's website referred to in this blog was removed during a website upgrade by the agency in 2014. This blog is not reflective of the agency's current website.

A little while back, FMCSA’s website posted informational sheets on sleep apnea and truck drivers.
While the apnea statistics come from an educational angle, the pages raised eyebrows here at OOIDA because the group that helped DOT with its information – the National Sleep Foundation – advocates for many publicly traded sleep industry giants who are just itching to increase market share.
As Land Line reported in 2008, FMCSA’s Medical Review Board was then chaired by a medical professional with deep ties to the National Sleep Foundation. This same individual pushed for a recommendation that truckers with a BMI of 30 or greater (or a 5-10 inch man weighing 210 pounds) be required to undergo overnight sleep labs that cost thousands of dollars.
The question is, what advocacy groups will be allowed to partner with FMCSA for future educational pages?
Here is to hoping this isn’t the start of a full push toward overbearing sleep test requirements.
Aside from the recent informational pages added, FMCSA hasn’t indicated it will push the apnea issue full throttle.
The Medical Review Board, which is advisory in nature, has gone through an overhaul from new appointments made since the inauguration of President Obama.
Also, Land Line Magazine covered FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro’s address before a sleep apnea conference last May in Baltimore. In her address, Administrator Ferro acknowledged driver health issues including apnea, but also stressed a balance between regulations and effective treatment for the driving population’s stressed and stretched workers.
At the bottom of the agency’s apnea page is a legal disclaimer that seems to conflict with the message sent by its partnership with the National Sleep Foundation.
“The materials contained on this page do not establish FMCSA policies or regulations, nor do they imply an endorsement or partiality by FMCSA of any product, the NSF, or the conclusions and/or recommendations contained in the materials. Trademarks or manufacturers’ names may appear herein only because they are considered essential to the object of the materials.”
Now there’s an education.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A trucking term worth knowing

The word “indemnification” can be difficult to pronounce, and can also be difficult to grasp the meaning of. If you look up indemnification in the dictionary, you’re likely to find the explanation “to protect against damage, loss, or injury; insure.”

As far as truck drivers are concerned, it could be explained as wholly unfair. Here’s why: Indemnification clauses in motor carrier transportation contracts are set up to protect shippers or hold them harmless from anything that happens with a shipment.

Slightly more than half of all states have rules in place to forbid these clauses. Lawmakers in about 10 more states are actively pursuing the same protection for motor carriers.

Arizona is one of the states trying to level the playing field for trucking companies and professional drivers.

Joe Rajkovacz, OOIDA’s director of regulatory affairs, said this kind of legislation is critical for fairness in the trucking industry.

“Indemnification amounts to somebody else using your insurance to cover their negligence,” Rajkovacz said. “Shippers are riding on the back of a trucker’s insurance policy to protect themselves from their own negligence.”

The Arizona Trucking Association is leading the charge in the state to do away with indemnification clauses. Karen Rasmussen, president and CEO of the state trucking group, said the bill – HB2359 – addresses a common misconception in the trucking industry.

“People think their insurance will cover them for the shipper’s negligence. They don’t realize they’re signing their business away,” Rasmussen told Land Line.

She pointed out that insurers have urged motor carriers not to sign contracts with the clauses included “because insurance companies cannot adequately rate, nor cover, the risks a carrier assumes for shipper negligence.”

This issue must be addressed in all states. It is too important for truckers to simply sit back and accept as part of the cost of doing business.

For a map showing which states have or have not adopted anti-indemnification measures, click here.