Anne Ferro’s departing message to the transportation industry this week is that the costs and responsibility of maintaining truck and highway safety needs to be more evenly distributed throughout the supply chain.
As Heavy Duty Trucking reports, Ferro insists that too much of the burden for safety falls on the trucking side, particularly drivers who, among other pressures, are not paid for all the time they work.
Ferro, who will step down later this month as chief of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, is set to become president and CEO of the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators.
“We need to move that safety calculus back into the supply chain and move the costs earlier among those influencing it,” she said in an interview with U.S. trade journalists.
She said that her experience showed her that a disproportionate share of the safety responsibility falls on drivers, while safe and compliant carriers are forced to compete against “low-end competitors in markets dedicated to squeezing out costs.”
One theme Ferro returned to is the idea of compensating drivers for all time on duty, with the overall cost spread out throughout the supply chain to include, at the least, carriers, shippers and consignees.
The pressure for certain carriers to deliver freight at the lowest possible cost is at the heart of the safety issue in the U.S. and part of the perpetual struggle over hours of service, Ferro said. “In an economic system that continues to try to drive the last penny out of the supply chain, transportation and trucking in particular gets squeezed the hardest because it has the least leverage,” she said.
She encouraged carriers to use today’s market conditions, in which demand exceeds supply, to get better treatment for drivers.
“Shippers that are abusive should frankly be shut out,” she said.
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