National Consumer Complaint Database needs overhaul, OOIDA says

November 3, 2021

Mark Schremmer

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In its current form, the National Consumer Complaint Database is a poorly named and “toothless” outlet for commercial motor vehicle drivers to report violations, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association says.

On Tuesday, Nov. 2, OOIDA filed formal comments about the NCCDB to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. In the comments, OOIDA offered suggestions on how to improve the database and called for the Government Accountability Office to review its effectiveness.

“As currently administered, the NCCDB is an inadequate outlet for drivers to report harassment, coercion, and other violations of commercial regulations,” OOIDA wrote in comments signed by President Todd Spencer.

The comments were in response to FMCSA’s information collection request about the database in September. Comments were due Nov. 3.

OOIDA said that when truck and bus drivers do file a complaint, there is insufficient response.

“The lack of response from FMCSA results in many unresolved complaints and also discourages drivers from using the NCCDB to report unsafe practices,” OOIDA wrote. “The agency must increase their response level after a complaint is filed.”

In 2019, Rep. Brian Babin, R-Texas, along with OOIDA, called out the program’s inability to address driver coercion.

“Unfortunately, drivers have informed me this process is wholly ineffective, discouraging them from submitting complaints,” Babin wrote.

What’s in a name?

OOIDA says another issue with the database is the name itself.

“(The National Consumer Complaint Database) does not signify a connection to the trucking industry in any way,” the Association wrote. “OOIDA believes the NCCDB can help improve safety, but many drivers are unaware that the NCCDB is available for them to report violations of commercial regulations, nor are they aware that coercion complaints can be handled through the NCCDB.”

OOIDA also said that the FMCSA can do more to promote the database to drivers.

GAO review

The Senate’s version of the infrastructure bill would require the Government Accountability Office to examine the database, evaluate the effectiveness, and follow up on submitted complaints.

“OOIDA believes a GAO review would produce necessary recommendations that can enhance the overall value of the NCCDB,” the Association wrote.

These steps are necessary for the database to provide any benefit to drivers who are the victims of coercion and harassment, OOIDA said.

“In addition to gathering information from consumers, drivers, and other participants in the motor carrier industry, the agency must prioritize devoting additional resources and staff to quickly fix the NCCDB,” OOIDA wrote. “Otherwise, the NCCDB will remain a toothless outlet for drivers to report harassment, coercion and other violations of commercial regulations.” LL

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Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.