Tidal wave comes ashore

Aug. 6, 2013
Changes keep coming as we enter the second half of 2013

What a year this has already turned out to be and yet the truck safety regulatory temperature is just beginning to warm up—and we haven’t even made it to September.  At TCA’s Safety & Security Div. meeting held in May, I referred to this as a regulatory tidal wave. Guess what? That wave is finally beginning to hit, so grab your surf board.

In late June, the transportation sector as a whole was bestowed by a unanimous Senate confirmation with a new secretary at the Dept. of Transportation in Anthony Foxx and almost immediately following that confirmation, the compliance date for driver’s hours-of-service regulations came and went.  Still delivering freight, our industry continues to deal with the ramifications of the new 34-hour restart and 30-minute break provisions and whether or not these requirements are truly making our drivers and equipment safer today than they were in June.  The fall of 2013 appears to be no different as we expect more regulations that we have long been waiting for to transpire in our industry.

The term “waiting for” can be considered an understatement, to say the least, as our industry preps for the publication of the drug and alcohol clearinghouse proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register.   Touted as an industry with zero tolerance, we have continued to wait for a place to record positive results on drug and alcohol tests for drivers and assure that those drivers remain off our highways for some time.  It appears as if that rulemaking will finally make its way to an industry that has been asking for it for years. 

Speaking of asking for it, an electronic logging device rule seems as if it will make its way down the regulatory road yet again through a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking (SNPRM).  In other words, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and Congress both appear to continue to be strongly in favor of this rule and have listened to its advocates for the need to uniformly mandate this upon the trucking industry.  Only time will tell if this SNPRM moves forward to a final rule. 

Trucking and its representatives will be dealing with at least three major initiatives and will continue to face more along the way as 2013 comes to an end.  A new broker bond of $75,000, as mandated by MAP-21, will come about and at some point, the entry-level driver training regulations will most certainly find their way to this industry again.  And these regulations speak nothing of CSA and the changes that the agency should be making to that program,  specifically crash accountability changes that should affect crash scores and paint a clearer picture of a carrier’s safety performance. 

The revolving world of transportation regulations continues to keep me and our industry in tune with changes that most certainly feel like they are occurring on a daily basis.  It is my hope and the hope of our industry that the aforementioned rules not only make sense, but are based on sound science and accurate data that meets the need of an industry that continuously strives to be safer on a daily basis.

David Heller, CDS, is director of safety and policy for the Truckload Carriers Assn.  He is responsible for interpreting and communicating industry-related regulations and legislation to the membership of TCA. Send comments to [email protected].

About the Author

David Heller

David Heller is the senior vice president of safety and government affairs for the Truckload Carriers Association. Heller has worked for TCA since 2005, initially as director of safety, and most recently as the VP of government affairs. Before that, he spent seven years as manager of safety programs for American Trucking Associations.

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