Almost every day, there seems to be some new rule or regulation directed at the trucking industry. So if you're like me, you probably have wondered where federal trucking regulations come from.
According to Warren Hoemann, former deputy director of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and U.S. Department of Transportation, regulations come from the highway safety records of commercial motor vehicles and legislation. If you are not doing so already, you need to be working with your industry organizations, such as American Trucking Associations, and communicate with your elected officials to help them understand the challenges the trucking industry faces and how pending legislation will impact it.
Hoemann was speaking at the recent Corcentric Fleet Solutions Conference in Greenville, South Carolina, to help meeting attendees understand the origins of trucking regulations. In his presentation, Hoemann talked about eight regulations affecting vehicles, drivers, and fleets.
Let's start with the regulations concerning the vehicles and delve a little deeper into each of the big three: automatic emergency braking (AEB), speed limiters, and side underride guards.
AEB trucking regulations
Earlier this year, FMCSA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a joint proposal requiring AEB systems on heavy-duty trucks. A NHTSA study found that vehicles equipped with AEB and forward-collision warning are said to reduce crash frequency by half. AEB is already standard on most passenger cars, and Hoemann said he believes that AEBs have a 100% chance of becoming a reality for heavy-duty trucks.
Trucking speed-limiter regulations
According to FMCSA: "The National Roadway Safety Strategy identified speed as a significant factor in fatal crashes and speed management as a primary tool to reduce serious injuries and fatalities." FMCSA has proposed a rule that "would impose speed limitations on certain CMVs that operate in interstate commerce." Hoemann sees a 75% likelihood of this proposed rule becoming law.
Underride guards regulations
In April, NHTSA issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking on side underride guards for trailers. These guards are designed to prevent a passenger vehicle from sliding underneath the trailer in the event of a crash with a tractor-trailer. In a report, NHTSA estimated that 17.2 lives would be saved each year, and 69 serious injuries would be avoided if all trailers had these guards installed. Hoemann's odds on this one are 70%.
Regulations affecting drivers include unique identification devices (UIDs), detention and delay, truck parking, and hair testing.
Electronic truck ID regulations
FMCSA is considering requiring that every truck be equipped with an electronic device that can wirelessly communicate a unique identification number when asked by a federal or state safety enforcement officer. Hoemann said this one has an 85% chance of becoming a reality.
Federal driver detention time study
At the recent Mid-American Trucking Show, FMCSA updated show attendees on its ongoing study into driver detention time. The agency plans to undertake a three-year study on how detention time impacts safety. The agency has studied this issue in the past, and this latest effort is the second phase of a study that began in 2014. One thing to note, FMCSA is changing the definition of detention time from the one used in previous studies. Will a regulatory solution be found for detention issues? Hoemann says there is a 65% chance there will be.
Truck parking shortage
Last fall, DOT convened a group to begin looking at ways to address the truck parking shortage. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said the federal government is "working with state and industry leaders to develop more parking that will improve safety and quality of life for our nation's truck drivers." Hoemann placed the chances of a legislative solution to the parking shortage at 70%.
Truck driver drug testing
Testing hair follicles for drugs in truck drivers seems to have been talked about for quite some time. Hair testing is said to provide a longer detection window and will be a better indicator of the use of illegal substances than urinalysis. But DOT is a long way from being able to develop regulations on the matter at this time.
Reform of Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) scoring will affect carriers themselves, and earlier this year, FMCSA announced proposed changes to the program. Fundamental changes include reorganizing and updating safety categories, consolidating violations, simplifying violation severity weights, using proportionate percentiles instead of safety event groups, improving intervention thresholds, emphasizing more recent violations, and updating the Utilization Factor. Hoemann said there is an 85% chance that fleets will see a change to CSA.
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Time will tell if Hoemann's predictions are correct, but keep in mind that the regulatory process is a slow one, so we may not see some of these changes for a while. However, if you have strong feelings about these regulatory initiatives, I again encourage you to contact your legislators to ensure your voice is heard.
Patrick Gaskins, senior VP of Corcentric Fleet Solutions, oversees both sales and operations for the company's fleet offerings. Gaskins joined the company in 2010, bringing more than 30 years of experience as a financial services professional in the transportation industry. He leads a team that works with a supply base of more than 160 manufacturers to help the country's largest fleets manage all aspects of their fleet operations and fleet-related spending.