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Government Transportation

Texas Regulators Crack Down on App-Driven Hauling Service 167

According to the Austin American-Statesman, it's not just ride-sharing companies like Uber drawing attention from regulators, at least in Texas, but also a similar service that's hauling goods rather than people. In a letter demanding that Austin-based Burro cease its phone-coordinated delivery service, Texas Department of Motor Vehicles director of enforcement William P. Harbeson says that "[a]nyone moving household goods in a pick-up truck or other type or size of vehicle for hire is required to register" with the Department, "and show proof of insurance in the amounts required by law." According to the letter, this includes not just professional or even regular haulers, but also people moving a piece of furniture bought at a garage sale for pay; considering the number of people offering that kind of service on Austin's Craigslist, or in the parking lot of home supply stores like Home Depot, it seems like a regulation that will put a dent in the wallet of quite a few people. Burro, for its part, says its providers "are backed by $1M in insurance" — more than can be said for one of the obvious substitutes, which is relying on friends or acquaintances with a roof-rack and some bungie cords.
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Texas Regulators Crack Down on App-Driven Hauling Service

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  • alot of the apps ones have insurance gaps that lead to the drivers being not covered at all at times / they must use there own insurance as primary that likely will not cover them at all for that kind of work.

    • alot of the apps ones have insurance gaps that lead to the drivers being not covered at all at times / they must use there own insurance as primary that likely will not cover them at all for that kind of work.

      Or even if they have insurance, if the driver does not have a CDL, then the insurance won't pay.

      • I don't know if a CDL is a qualifier or not but almost all non commercial insurance policies have a disclaimer stating they will not cover any commercial use of the vehicle. Pizza delivery drivers run into this all the time. They either need a special rider policy for their car or pretend the 20 pizzas in the back are there because he forgot to put them in the fridge.

        Texas isn't the only state that has laws like this one either. The roots of it is in federal law. Generally anything with a gross vehicle weig

  • by Etherwalk ( 681268 ) on Saturday May 09, 2015 @07:57PM (#49655537)

    For moves of significance, should be requiring $1M insurance and webcams in the trucks. Stealing shipments from moving companies (sometimes with inside men) is big business.

    For moves of one piece of furniture with value $1K, should be requiring a photo of the vehicle and guy be texted to law enforcement before loading. Done.

    • " guy be texted to law enforcement before loading" This is NOT the role of the police....
      • " guy be texted to law enforcement before loading"

        This is NOT the role of the police....

        There is no role here at all unless the guy breaks a law. If he breaks a law, it's the role of the police.

  • I smell money grab (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Snotnose ( 212196 ) on Saturday May 09, 2015 @08:11PM (#49655593)
    I have a couch, you have a pickup. Does it matter if I've known you for 20 years or if I give you $20?
    • I have a couch, you have a pickup. Does it matter if I've known you for 20 years or if I give you $20?

      Sure it does. If you give him $20, he is now a commercial carrier. Though it is very unlikely anybody would ever bust someone for helping you move once. The real issue here is the guys on craigslist who are offering commercial to the public moving services, or the Burro corporation which is doing the same thing via an app.

      • Sure it does. If you give him $20, he is now a commercial carrier. Though it is very unlikely anybody would ever bust someone for helping you move once. The real issue here is the guys on craigslist who are offering commercial to the public moving services, or the Burro corporation which is doing the same thing via an app.

        What about if you show them the fuel gauge and tell them to replenish only the amount of the fuel they used for the move. Are you still a commercial carrier? Technically, you'd be losing out on the move anyway, since fuel cost doesn't take into account the wear and tear on the vehicle, the insurance, or any other miscellaneous costs.

        And also, assuming that you wouldn't make a habit of helping your friends move, and that this is only a one time thing, and only a one-time reimbursement of the fuel used, would

        • Sure it does. If you give him $20, he is now a commercial carrier. Though it is very unlikely anybody would ever bust someone for helping you move once. The real issue here is the guys on craigslist who are offering commercial to the public moving services, or the Burro corporation which is doing the same thing via an app.

          What about if you show them the fuel gauge and tell them to replenish only the amount of the fuel they used for the move. Are you still a commercial carrier? Technically, you'd be losing out on the move anyway, since fuel cost doesn't take into account the wear and tear on the vehicle, the insurance, or any other miscellaneous costs.

          And also, assuming that you wouldn't make a habit of helping your friends move, and that this is only a one time thing, and only a one-time reimbursement of the fuel used, would you still be considered a commercial carrier then?

          I am not familiar with the USDOT rules and regulations, but if this were an airplane, and you accepted money to reimburse fuel, it would definitely be considered commercial. I would guess that USDOT rules are in line with the FAA rules.

          • This is false. A pilot with a private (non-commercial) license may fly a passenger who reimburses them for the expenses of the flight, including plane rental and fuel. It doesn't become commercial until they make a profit.
            • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

              This is false. A pilot with a private (non-commercial) license may fly a passenger who reimburses them for the expenses of the flight, including plane rental and fuel. It doesn't become commercial until they make a profit.K/blockquote>

              FALSE.

              They may only reimburse you THEIR SHARE of the costs.

              The FAA is very clear on this. There are several conditions that must be true for it to be OK to carry a passenger and get paid without a commercial license.

              FIRST, the passenger's trip must be incidental to the flig

            • This is false. A pilot with a private (non-commercial) license may fly a passenger who reimburses them for the expenses of the flight, including plane rental and fuel. It doesn't become commercial until they make a profit.

              No, this is false.
              The costs can be shared equally, but if you exceed an equal share, it becomes commercial. There have even been some cases around people publicly advertising that they were going to place X and willing to share costs. The FAA considered that offering services publicly and declared it commercial.
              Being profitable is not the condition for commercial use. Plenty of for-profit businesses don't make a profit. That doesn't mean they don't have to be licensed.

    • Once you make it a business transaction yes it should. If it's just a friend that you give some cash that's not a business. But if it's a friend you pay through an Internet service to pick your stuff up then it's a business transaction regardless if they're a friend or not. Likewise if you had a friend that can do it you probably wouldn't download an app and hire them through that.
  • by sixsixtysix ( 1110135 ) on Saturday May 09, 2015 @08:15PM (#49655615)
    Another case of something being perfectly legal if done for free (your friends helping you move or giving someone a ride) or by yourself (ripping your own[ed] media, or recording television services you subscribe to), but the moment money changes hands, everyone wants a cut. Utterly sickening. I guess they better crack down on paying anyone with beer/food as well.
    • And yes, I am saying that if I can record my own television that I subscribe to (or even free ota stuff), surely I should be able to download said content by outsourcing the capturing/editing-out-of-commercials to the internet at large.
      • You can actually, its the UPLOAD that gets you. Sony v Universal (and subsequent rulings) is quite clear, Backups are backups, it doesnt matter where they came from as long as you dont share them. If you direct download them you are in the clear 100%, if you use a sharing service like a torrent, the water gets a lot muddier.
    • by Bob9113 ( 14996 )

      I guess they better crack down on paying anyone with beer/food as well.

      If it really is pay - or in legal terms, "consideration" - then it is covered by this law exactly the same as money. What you do with your friends is neither pay nor consideration. You give them beer and sandwiches when they help you out for free.

      If you claim you don't get the distinction, I believe you are being intentionally obtuse. A judge or magistrate would not be so.

    • So pay your friend for the companionship while he happens to haul your new sofa. You know how it is. If you buy her a fancy meal for $100. you may be her lover but if you hand her $100. you are a John and she is a hooker. Sometimes law is composed by idiots.
    • Another case of something being perfectly legal if done for free (your friends helping you move or giving someone a ride) . . . . but the moment money changes hands, everyone wants a cut.

      It doesn't just have to do with "money changing hands" -- it has to do with the difference between "your friends" (i.e., people you know and probably have some sort of trust/relationship with) vs. asking some random 3rd party dude whom you've never met before to take your stuff and trust it with him in his truck.

      Obviously you must have never had to deal with a dispute or error involving professional movers, or you've never had a package lost or damaged by a 3rd-party courier or whatever.

      These sorts of t

    • Actually there are laws against GIVING food to people now as well.
      • Actually there are laws against GIVING food to people now as well.

        The laws are not against giving food to poor people. The laws are against distributing food by unlicensed vendors, or against distributing food that is not packaged, etc. The effect is the same but the difference is that the people writing these laws are deluding themselves into thinking that they are not doing exactly what they are doing.

    • didn't even bother to read the summary let alone TFA did you? This is about insurance, keeping track of who has it and making sure they're in a position to pay. $1 mil is small potatoes if you get hit by an uninsured driver and injured. A bad accident can result in decades of medical bills and with America's screwed up health care system can run way past that.
    • It still depends. There are almost certainly moves being done for free which shouldn't be done in the way they're being done but it's hard to catch them but if you funnel it all through an Internet business it's easy to find violations.
      • Exactly. Too many people say that they're "trying to take our freedoms away". Many things which are common practice are against the law, and there's often a tacit acceptance of this in the form of "if you're too small and innoccuous to get caught, it's OK". Organise that illegal practice, though, and you're definitely big enough to get hit with enforcement.

        Now to all those people who say that the tacit acceptance of these practices on the small scale implies that it's OK on the big scale, I want you to thin

        • by fche ( 36607 )

          "Not acceptance of everyone, but enforcement against everyone." ... or perhaps it would result in enough outrage that laws that forbid harmless practices would be undone, resulting in enforcement against no-one.

  • by retroworks ( 652802 ) on Saturday May 09, 2015 @08:18PM (#49655629) Homepage Journal

    As a former (1992-99 Boston MA USA) regulator, I smile. Regulator jobs were created because the average person didn't have access to information and it was worth it to pay taxes to hire people to regulate the service providers. The other two parts of the job were raising income for the state and protecting the commercial services / upstream market, but from Upton Sinclair times the protection of the consumer was the regulatory driver.

    Protecting the consumer ordering the service is disrupted. The reputation (likes/dislikes/negative feedback) model does the equivalent of what Ebay did to print journalism. Print news made 1/3 from subscriptions, 1/3 from ads, and 1/3 from classified (my great grandparents-parents worked in newspaper market).

    The newspapers were slow to embrace online classifieds because it wasn't in the marketplace they had cornered.... and they lost it. Regulators are now like new editors, they know the feedback system protects consumers, and they also know that's 1/3 of their jobs. I suspect most regulators are less adept than news editors.

    • Screw protecting the consumer and their maybe $1000 worth of crap in the back of a pickup. What I want to know is that _I'm_ protected from half assed and overworked driver with no insurance moving shit on their days off instead of resting thanks to America's race to the bottom economy.
    • Protecting the consumer ordering the service is disrupted. The reputation (likes/dislikes/negative feedback) model does the equivalent of what Ebay did to print journalism. Print news made 1/3 from subscriptions, 1/3 from ads, and 1/3 from classified (my great grandparents-parents worked in newspaper market).

      This is only part of the job, though. Reputation only mitigates against negative outcomes that are common occurences (eg a trader selling defective goods, out-of-date foodstuffs etc) but does nothing to deal with low-occurence, high-cost accidents. A guy who does ten thousand driving jobs without incident will not have a single review commenting on his lack of insurance, so there's no protection to ensure that the guy whose driver actually has an accident is properly insured. Furthermore, as online reputati

  • great, until you hit a pothole and kill the guy in the car behind you on the highway

    i don't know about regulating hauling, but i wouldn't mind seeing the police pull over and arrest some of the flimsy crap i've seen barely secured to trucks and SUVs going 70 in the highway

    • great, until you hit a pothole and kill the guy in the car behind you on the highway

      i don't know about regulating hauling, but i wouldn't mind seeing the police pull over and arrest some of the flimsy crap i've seen barely secured to trucks and SUVs going 70 in the highway

      I'm all for sensible precautions, but is this really a problem?

      We can imagine all sorts of things happening and require enormous levels of bureaucratic process and safety procedure for just about everything, but without evidence of likelihood that'll just be wasted effort.

      In the manner of Bruce Schneier's movie plot security [google.com], this is "movie plot safety". We *imagine* what *might* happen, then burden it up with preventive measures.

      What we should be doing is looking at what *actually happens*, and then analyz

      • What we should be doing is looking at what *actually happens*

        people die due to the carelessness and irresponsibility of others all the time

        • people die due to the carelessness and irresponsibility of others all the time

          They call it "involuntary manslaughter" and the perpetrators can be imprisoned for life in some circumstances.

          • They call it "involuntary manslaughter" and the perpetrators can be imprisoned for life in some circumstances.

            "Involuntary manslaughter" is a pretty useless law. It has virtually no deterrent effect (either you're aware that what you're doing is dangerous and don't care, or you think it's perfectly safe) and it only serves to further punish people suffering extreme trauma and guilt complexes after seeing themselves cause someone else's death. Prevention is far, far better than cure.

    • and I'd like to see it made illegal to tow with a chain (or worse one of those canvas rope thingy's I've seen). For pete's sakes people get a flatbed or at least a proper tow dolly.
  • It's refreshing to see people starting to challenge the notion that naturally a government can regulate whatever it wants. Calling it out when nonsensical - putting the burden of proof of necessity/wisdom on those in power - that's simply awesome.

    • It's refreshing to see people starting to challenge the notion that naturally a government can regulate whatever it wants. Calling it out when nonsensical - putting the burden of proof of necessity/wisdom on those in power - that's simply awesome.

      your poor straw man just can't get a break, you've really got him on the ropes

    • Grrr... damn government, trying to regulate our markets and reduce the burden of due dilligence on the individual customer. What do they think they're doing, saving us time? With all this unemployment, they should be making us spend more time checking up on potential suppliers, so that we have less time to dedicate to work and the jobs can be shared out more equally.
      • by fche ( 36607 )

        "reduce the burden of due dilligence on the individual customer"

        That's an interesting angle ... "regulation is good because the emptor doesn't have to caveat".

        It infantilizes people, especially in this day & age of easily available information, and the presence of free-market alternatives like UL, ISO, etc. Its trustworthiness is a lie, since it provides no proof that it hits any minimum of the cost/benefit curves of its mandates, and bears zero liability for its mistakes.

        • You might as well suggest that roadside garbage collection "infantilizes" people, and that we should all have to throw our garbage onto the back of the cart ourselves, like granny did.
  • This being the best they could come up with, but then I don't know of all the off the wall requirements there.

  • Anyone know any Uber drivers with a pickup?

    May as well resolve multiple Slashdot discussion in one thread.

  • amateur truck loaders are going to put small loads in big trailers without proper securing, the loads will slide all around the floor of the trailer and impact the sides of the trailer with great force, enough to overturn the trailer on a sharp curve or even puncture the side of the trailer or pop the back doors open with the subsequent ejection of the load into the direct path of motorists. Modern plastic pallets are a big improvement in many ways but they slide like teflon in the back of a trailer.

    This i

    • By random inspections, you mean searches without probable cause. Thats illegal.
      • By random inspections, you mean searches without probable cause. Thats illegal.

        In that case, we need regulation to minimise the risk and obviate the need.

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