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Looking Both Ways

What's Goin' On?

What's Goin' On?

By John Mueller, CDS, COSS
Posted Sep 1st 2015 9:38AM

Current Regulatory and Legislative Updates having some effect on truck drivers.

This post of Looking Both Ways will attempt to keep you updated with pending legislation that will have some effect on all truck drivers. Some issues affect you the driver directly, some affect the motor carrier you operate for. Unfortunately none affect the manner in which the four wheelers operate their vehicles. My goal is to put these regulatory issues into a little better perspective and provide you a better understanding of each.

Significant Rulemakings:

Safety Fitness Determination Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) – publication is still scheduled for September 30, 2015. The Safety Fitness Determination is the agency's attempt to attach a safety "rating" to motor carriers using CSA. Under the old SMS (Safety Measurement System) using SaferSys, Carriers were issued a static rating – Satisfactory, Conditional or Unsatisfactory based on the Out of Service (OOS) percentages of Drivers, Vehicles and Hazmat violations against the National average for each.
Since the roll out of CSA (Compliance Safety Accountability) there is no safety rating associated with the seven (7) CSA Basics – just alerts if a carrier exceeds the established threshold in a Basic. Shippers, partner carriers, insurance companies and plaintiff's bar have used these Alerts published on the FMCSA CSA website against carriers contrary to the disclaimer published on the FMCSA website. The disclaimer instructs "Readers should not draw conclusions about a carrier's overall safety condition simply based on the data displayed in this system. Unless a motor carrier in the SMS has received an UNSATISFACTORY safety rating pursuant to 49 CFR Part 385, or has otherwise been ordered to discontinue operations by the FMCSA, it is authorized to operate on the nation's roadways." This disclaimer has been totally disregarded by Shippers, partner carriers, insurance companies and plaintiff's bar and used regularly against motor carriers.
Carriers "fit to operate" should be "fit to use" by shippers (customers).

CDL Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse Final Rule – publication has been delayed one month, from December 14, 2015 to January 20, 2016. FMCSA was mandated by MAP-21 to establish a national CDL drug and alcohol clearinghouse to bolster the regulations prohibiting controlled substance and/or alcohol abuse by truck and bus drivers in safety sensitive positions (operating "Commercial Motor Vehicles"). The proposed rule requires FMCSA-regulated employers and professionals supporting DOT testing programs to report drug test results to a National Database. Employers and professionals supporting DOT testing programs will also be required to report information on follow-up testing and also requires employers to report actual knowledge of traffic citations for driving a CMV while under the influence of alcohol or drugs to the same National Database. This ruling will make it difficult for drivers testing positive to obtain jobs after testing positive without following the return to work requirements as directed by the Substance Abuse Professional (SAP). The clearinghouse will also enable prospective employers to conduct more efficient and thorough driver background checks when qualifying prospective drivers.

ELD Final Rule – Final rule was sent to OMB on July 28, 2015, publication is still scheduled for September 30, 2015. The Electronic Logging Device ruling will set the date that ELDs must be in use. ELDs installed in commercial motor vehicles can monitor and record vast data about the vehicle and its driver – not just Hours of Service. Because ELD's are "tethered" to the vehicle's electronics the devices are able to report driver behavior on speeding, idling, and hard braking.
ELDs can also:
•Make drivers life much easier by reducing paperwork.
•Reduce the number of "Form and Manner" HOS violations discovered in roadside inspections which help reduce carrier's CSA HOS Basic scores.
•Provide load planners or dispatchers with real time driver's status for better load planning and scheduling for drivers and shipments.
•Eliminate the headaches associated with keeping paper logs for both driver and carrier.
•Provide drivers with additional legal duty status times as ELDs record by the minute as opposed to using full 15 minute increments on paper logs.

Confused about the differences between ELDs and Automatic On Board Recording Devices? Really AOBRDs are just devices that are legally compliant today. The FMCSA will allow fleets that have installed AOBRDs at the time the final rule is enacted to continue to use those devices until late 2019.

MAP-21 Enhancements to the Unified Registration System NPRM – publication is scheduled for April of 2016. The Unified Registration System (URS) is a new electronic on-line registration system that is intended to streamline and simplify the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA) registration process. This portal will serve as a clearinghouse and depository of information on all entities regulated by the Agency, including motor carriers, brokers, freight forwarders, intermodal equipment providers (IEPs), hazardous materials safety permit (HMSP) applicants/holders, and cargo tank manufacturing and repair facilities. The URS will combine multiple registration processes, information technology systems and forms into a single, electronic online registration process. This could prove to be a very useful tool if the web portal can prove capable to accommodate all of the entities and information under jurisdiction of the agency.

MAP-21 Prohibition of Coercion Final Rule – Final rule was sent to OMB on July 28, 2015, publication is still scheduled for September 25, 2015. This Rulemaking is proposing to adopt regulations prohibiting motor carriers, shippers, receivers, or transportation intermediaries from coercing drivers to operate CMVs in violation of certain Federal regulations, including drivers' hours-of-service limits and the CDL regulations and associated drug and alcohol testing rules, or the Hazardous Materials Regulations. Additionally, the notice prohibits anyone who operates a CMV in interstate commerce from coercing a driver to violate the commercial regulations.

FMCSA/NHTSA Joint Rule on Heavy Vehicle Speed Limiters – FMCSA has scheduled for August 20, 2015, however, NHTSA has updated their prediction to September 21, 2015.
This proposed rule originated about ten years ago when "Big Trucking" petitioned FMCSA to adopt speed limiters. FMCSA feels there is some merit in reducing highway fatal crashes by mandating the use of speed limiters on Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMVs) but have not set an actual top speed which will be proposed.
Speed limiters will cause a higher variance of vehicle speeds (between passenger cars and trucks) and ultimately increase the risk of an accident. Any reduction in speed will cause more congestion. Other vehicles will have to decelerate and then accelerate to maneuver around the slower truck traffic; increasing fuel consumption and legitimate safety concerns.

Entry-Level Driver Training NPRM – publication is still scheduled for October 15, 2015.
§ 380.503: Entry-level driver training requirements. An Entry-level driver is a driver with less than one year of experience operating a CMV with a CDL in interstate commerce. In May of 2004 the government mandated specific training for new CMV drivers. Entry-level driver training is training the CDL driver receives in driver qualification requirements, hours of service of drivers, driver wellness, and whistle blower protection as appropriate to the entry-level driver's current position in addition to passing the CDL test. Motor Carriers are required to provide Entry-level Driver raining to those drivers they hire or contract with less than one year driving experience in a CMV operating across state lines.

The regulatory environment of trucking is changing faster than ever.  It can be very difficult to keep up and changes are often intimidating.  An easy way to follow pending legislation within our expedite industry is to visit   This website is a coalition of three Trucking Associations coming together to have the needs and voice of the small trucker heard and represented. You can have your voice heard by supporting or opposing pending legislation on by simply filling in your information on the T.A.P. (Tell A Politician) tabs on the website. The site completes the letter for you and submits a letter to your political representative in less than a minute.  Visit often as the site also provides automatic news updates.

Disclaimer: This blog is NOT intended to give legal advice, nor be a substitute for any training required by the Regulations.
Till the next blog, Thank you drivers for all you do!. Please be safe!

Click here to read more of my blogs!

John Mueller, CDS, COSS


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