Transportation law specialist warns of transparency in modern information age

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“Transparency is the name of the game,” said transportation law specialist Rob Moseley during his presentation “Transparency in Modern Trucking” on Tuesday, Nov. 8, at the CCJ Fall Symposium, being held at the Montelucia Resort & Spa in Phoenix.

Moseley, who works with law firm Smith Moore Leatherwood of Greenville, S.C., highlighted for Symposium attendees a rundown of public information available online about trucking companies for anyone to see – mostly related to the legal arena:
• Release of government data: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Website reveals everyone’s “dirty laundry.” The agency is getting much more aggressive, and many times the local administrator has no leeway on the level of fines issued. Anyone suing a company can use a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain additional data on them.
• Appeals are public, too, as are any motions or letters. Press releases and informal handouts also are up for grabs.
• Information on labor cases or whistleblowers as classified by the Surface Transportation Assistance Act case is available.
• Pre-Employment Screening data is available, and Moseley said standards for carriers and law enforcement using them need to be developed.
• Electronic onboard recorders are having unintended effects, including driver refugees switching companies, additional “tag-along” technology, compliance pushing drivers to work harder and faster, and personal conveyance issues if an off-duty driver needs to use the company’s truck to go somewhere.
• In the post-EOBR environment, Virtual Roadside inspections are being tested, with this electronic data becoming available for all to see.
• A carrier snapsnot is available on www.safersys.org, and a company’s safety profile is available there for $20.
• The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association publishes its lawsuits on its Website, and law firms check this site frequently.
• Most courts have gone to online filing, and anyone can search the Pacer federal system, Lexis or state dockets, or search other courts for worker’s compensation and employment security cases.

In the electronic information age, government regulations managing document retention are out of date, and new types of data are being created every day. “What is confidential? What is the property of the motor carrier?” Moseley asked. “I would encourage motor carriers to take the bull by the horns to decide what data they want used.”