Chain of Responsibility Protects Drivers & Others

On a recent shopping trip to coastal Maine, my wife could not get over the amount of trucks on Interstate 95, the major north south east coast super highway. For me, having grown up and learned to drive within a stone’s throw of I-95 as a kid in New Jersey, trucks on highways are as commonplace as Jersey barriers.


She feigned interest when I casually mentioned that, according to the American Trucking Association, about 70% of U.S. freight is carried by truck and that the industry has over 3.5 million employees. She turned up the radio when I began to chat about the growing importance of the chain of reasonability.

Those truckers were not on a leisurely holiday drive like we were, but determinedly bound for oil depots, construction sites, distribution centers, big box stores, and other day-to-day commercial activities that rely on truck and truckers. They had loads to deliver and schedules to keep, all while keeping an eye on the impending snow event just hours away. Truck accidents are usually high profile news events and investigations into a driver’s health and behavior are at the forefront.

The concept of shared responsibility for highway safety is a concept that is gaining support internationally. It is often referred to as Chain of Responsibility (COR). Broadly, impacts everyone in the transportation chain, from shippers to receivers, and includes the driver, dispatcher, and even those who pack and load goods. It can even include the customer.

Those that influence a driver’s behavior and compliance are culpable. In COR, the chain of responsibility is shared, not transferred. In this era of an end-to-end supply chain, there are a lot of people held accountable.  

COR is law in Australia and New Zealand. It has influenced transportation laws in the United States and is part of educational and safety standards offered by some U.S. and Canadian agencies but it is not official law at this time. It very well may be in the near future. 

Pressures on truckers, and those that hire them, are at an all time high. Responding to ever shrinking lead times in today’s minute by minute just in time delivery push has forced some truckers to bend the rules when it comes to violating regulations like mandatory driving hours. And those that force drivers to break those rules, even in an effort to satisfy a demanding customer, will also be in hot water. 

In many cases the title to the goods being shipped transfers to the buyer when the pallets land on the truck and the tailgate comes down. But no longer. These days the responsibility for safe transit is everyone’s job.    

Is this an issue that’s on your radar? What are your biggest concerns? Let us know in the comments section below. 

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