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Check Call: A first for the FMCSA

In this edition: The FMCSA has a first; Mexico holds the top spot; and freight audit and payment hits center stage.

Check Call the Show. News and Analysis for 3PLs and Freight Brokers.

Welcome to Check Call, our corner of the internet for all things 3PL, freight broker and supply chain. Check Call the podcast comes out every Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. EDT. Catch up on previous episodes here. If this was forwarded to you, sign up for Check Call the newsletter here.

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has some research data that could prove helpful to the public and itself. This data has findings that relate to carriers’ safety and operations. Since this is the first time ever that the FMCSA has issued a notice of data availability, it’s likely that a new rule or regulation will follow regarding driver safety.

P. Sean Garney, motor carrier regulations expert and co-director of Scopelitis Transportation Consulting, said in an article by FreightWaves’ John Gallagher, “What’s more interesting to me are the research titles listed and what they could mean for rulemaking.” 

Gallagher adds, “He [Garney] noted that of six reports listed in Friday’s Federal Register notice, three are related to the effectiveness of driver-assist types of technology. A fourth study that is not listed in the Federal Register but has been added to the rulemaking docket relates to the effectiveness of front-crash prevention systems in reducing large truck crash rates.”

This research has followed the safety fitness determination regulation FMCSA proposed last year that was open to public comment. Given the newly released research and the strong opposition to the original proposed rule, it’s going to make for a spicy 2024 if the FMCSA actually follows through on a rule for driver safety technology.

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Mexico shows no sign of slowing down as for the 10th time in the past 11 months it ranked as the No. 1 trading partner with the U.S. The port of entry that has handled the highest volume is Laredo, Texas, with $26.7 billion in November. Trailing closely behind Laredo was the Port of Los Angeles with $25 billion and Chicago O’Hare International Airport with $24 billion.


Canada is hot on the heels of Mexico with $65.2 billion compared to Mexico’s $65.8 billion for the month of November. Numbers for December haven’t come out yet, but there’s a chance that Canada can still pull out one final win over Mexico for the year.

The outlook for 2024: I would wager the whole 12 months might go to Mexico being the top trading partner as a majority of the nearshoring projects announced and started last year will finally be taking off and have more freight flowing between the two countries.

SONAR Ticker: OTVI.CHI, OTRI. CHI

Market Check. Chicago has settled in for the long January. While outbound tender volumes are still up 19.69% week over week, rates have begun to fall as the post-holiday cleanup levels out. Following that cleanup, outbound tender rejections have returned to consistent rates seen before the holidays for an OTRI of 3.9%. Chicago has freight but isn’t a hotbed of opportunity for carriers looking to score on the spot market. Capacity should remain readily available, and contracted freight will remain the most sought-after opportunities.

Who’s with Whom? Freight auditing has brought a new partnership to the forefront: Echo Global Logistics and Navix. This partnership is aimed at helping support Echo’s back-office operations. Freight audit and payment is something that every brokerage deals with, but few take the audit part seriously in regard to verifying rates and making sure that invoices are paid correctly and in a timely manner.

Echo seems to be setting the new industry standard for the back-office approach with this move. Pete Rogers, chief financial officer of Echo Global Logistics, said in an article by FreightWaves’ Grace Sharkey, “We chose Navix because of its unique approach to connectivity with carriers and technology, which allows us to easily identify the root cause of the exception, and customized business rules which allow us to resolve that in a far more efficient manner for our carriers and clients.”

The more you know 

Flatbed and refrigerated trucking poised to tighten in 2024

Truckload linehaul rates stabilizing, Cass report shows 

Container lines ‘scramble’ to rent more ships amid Red Sea crisis

Daily Infographic: What are the top distractions for truck drivers that cause accidents?

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Mary O'Connell

Former pricing analyst, supply chain planner, and broker/dispatcher turned creator of the newsletter and podcast Check Call. Which gives insights into the world around 3PLs and Freight brokers. She will talk your ear off about anything and everything if you let her. Expertise in operations, LTL pricing and procurement, flatbed operations, dry van, tracking and tracing, reality tv shows and how to turn a stranger into your new best friend.