Regulatory actions ramping up for truckers

July 1st marks 35 years since the landmark Motor Carrier Regulatory Reform and Modernization Act (aka The Motor Carrier Act of 1980) was signed into law by former President Jimmy Carter, partially deregulating the trucking industry. Here in 2015, the red tape is as vibrant as ever and over-regulation is abundant, extremely restrictive and costly.

Listed below are regulations set to become a Final Rule or Proposed Rule later this year:

Coercion of Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers; Prohibition (Proposed Rule)
FMCSA is proposing to adopt regulations that prohibit motor carriers, shippers, receivers, or transportation intermediaries from coercing drivers to operate commercial motor vehicles in violation of certain provisions of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.
While there is an overwhelming consensus that coercion is a bad thing, very few truly feel that this proposed rule as written has the teeth to make a big difference. It doesn’t require special declarations by employers who dismiss a driver, no date/time stamps on Bills of Lading for pickup and delivery, no signed review of HOS prior to dispatch – really nothing procedural. Rather, it states that drivers “must bear a substantial burden of proof” in establishing coercion. If and when found in violation, the offender will receive a fine and may be ordered to pay restitution for the coercion.
This proposed rule is scheduled to clear OMB and be published as a Final Rule by September 10. Docket #: FMCSA-2012-0377 RIN: 2126-AB57
Commercial Driver’s License Drug &

Alcohol Clearinghouse (Proposed Rule)
FMCSA is proposing to establish the Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, a database that will contain controlled substances and alcohol test results for commercial drivers.

The proposed rule would require verified positive, adulterated, and substituted drug test results, positive alcohol test results, test refusals, negative return-to-duty test results, and information on follow-up testing to be reported and stored in the database. The proposed rule would also require employers to report actual knowledge of traffic citations for driving a commercial motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The proposed rule would also establish the terms of access to the database which includes prospective and current employers.
Electronic Logging Devices and Hours of Service Supporting Documents
(Proposed Rule)
FMCSA is proposing amendments to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations to establish: Minimum performance and design standards for hours-of-service (HOS); electronic logging devices (ELD); requirements for the mandatory use of these devices by drivers currently required to prepare HOS records of duty status; requirements concerning HOS supporting documents; and measures to address concerns about harassment resulting from the mandatory use of ELDs.

A large number of comments on this proposed rule show disagreement with its purported safety benefits and concern with the costs associated with these devices. In comments by United Parcel Service, the company notes that roughly 12,000 of the 40,000 trucks that it operates that would be subject to this rule already have onboard recording devices. However, the company also notes that to upgrade those devices to be compliant with the new rule, it would cost roughly $300 per unit. Additionally, UPS estimates the cost to install onboard recording devices in the remainder of its fleet would be $4,226 per unit. Considering these estimates are representative of a large purchasing power causes deeper concern.

This proposed rule is scheduled to clear OMB and be published as a Final Rule by September 30. Docket #: FMCSA-2010-0167 RIN: 2126-AB20

Commercial Motor Vehicle Speed Limiters
Stemming from petitions from the American Trucking Association, Road Safe America and a group of nine very large motor carriers, FMCSA is proposing federal motor vehicle safety standards to require speed limiters on trucks. The proposal was originally posted in the Federal Register in 2011, but has been delayed 21 times since then. The original proposal would require vehicle manufacturers to install a tamper-resistant device to limit the speed of trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating greater than 26,000 pounds to no more than 68 mph.

Most recently, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx was asked about the 21 delays in a Senate Subcommittee hearing. Foxx told Maine Senator Susan Collins that “there is a Notice of Proposed Rule Making that is working its way through the department
currently and I’m looking forward to getting that out as soon as possible – hopefully not later than the fall.”  Federal Register No. 2010-33057

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