The Regulatory Landscape Widens

Regulatory Overview

A barrage of regulations continues to bear down on the transportation industry. This increased pace of transportation regulations will impact shippers; greater attention to mitigating risks is required. Those who don’t stay on top of changes risk leaving their supply chain vulnerable to capacity, compliance and safety issues.

The following guide has been developed to help shippers better understand the key points of recently adopted regulations challenging the industry, those on the horizon, the potential impact on business and implementation timing.

Recent Regulations in Effect

Electronic Logging Devices: Effective Date December 2017

The FMCSA proposed rulemaking on electronic logging devices (ELDs) that would require every motor carrier with interstate drivers to install a compliant ELD.

Starting December 18, 2017, roadside enforcement personnel will begin documenting ELD violations, possibly issuing citations to commercial motor vehicle drivers operating vehicles without a compliant ELD. Despite the noncompliance, these vehicles will still be allowed on the road. Beginning April 1, 2018, inspectors will start placing commercial motor vehicle drivers out of service if their vehicle is not equipped with a required device, and the truck will remain out of service for a minimum of 10 hours. ELD violations will impact a carrier’s CSA scores in the Hours of Service BASIC for two years, and it will appear on the driver’s PSP record for three years. FMCSA will be able to see which carriers are being issued these types of violations.

Entry-Level Driver Training: Final Rule Published on December 7, 2016–Compliance Required by February 7, 2020

This rule applies to new drivers seeking their Class A or B commercial drivers license (CDL) for either interstate or intrastate and includes special training for drivers seeking a hazardous materials, passenger or school bus endorsement on their CDL. The training will be made up of two core parts: theory (classroom) and behind the wheel on a range and on a public road. There is no required time that must be spent on theory training, but there are specific topics and materials that must be covered. The training must be given by a registered training provider, listed on the FMCSA’s Training Provider Registry, and certify its students before a student may sit for the CDL skills exam. The final rule relies on a driver demonstrating proficiency in operating a commercial vehicle safely at the conclusion of the training, and the driver must pass a knowledge test with at least 80 percent.

Hours of Service: Restart Rule: Effective Date March 8, 2017

A July 1, 2013, restart provision has been overturned. Under that rule, if commercial drivers wanted to “restart” their 60- or 70-hour duty cycle limit, they were required to include at least two nighttime periods from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. in their restart breaks. Use of the 34-hour restart was limited to once every 168 hours. With the overturn of the rule, restart requirements will revert back to the provisions that were in place before July 1, 2013, which follow:

  • Drivers may restart a weekly 60- or 70-hour duty cycle after taking a restart break of 34 or more consecutive hours off duty

The return to the consecutive 34-hour restart provision allows for easier understanding by drivers and a reduction in the productivity impact of the 2013 rule change.

Emissions and Fuel Economy Standards: Effective Date October 26, 2016

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) finalized new emissions and fuel economy standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles to be implemented fully in 2017. The proposed rule calls for specific percentage reductions in carbon dioxide emissions and fuel consumption for tractors, engines and trailers with improvements throughout the vehicle. The Phase 2 proposed rule would set GHG and FE standards on trailers for the first time beginning with model year 2018 trailers, which could be achieved using tire and aerodynamic technologies already on the market. The rule is expected to lower CO2 emissions by approximately 1.1 billion metric tons, while reducing oil consumption by up to 2 billion barrels over the lifetime of the vehicles sold under the program. The agencies estimate payback time on tractors and trailers to be just two years.

Commerial Drivers License Requirements for Military Personnel (CDL Rule Ⅰ): Final rule published October 12, 2016

In recognition of the truck driver training received while serving our country, the federal government is looking to ease the transition of military members into civilian careers by reducing onerous paperwork and simplifying the licensing process. The proposal includes:

  • Extending the time period for applying for a skills test waiver from 90 days to 1 year for recently separated military
  • Requires states to accept the military commercial vehicle license of certain military personnel in exchange for a CDL
  • Allowing active duty military members to apply for their Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP) or CDL in their current state of residence with the CLP or CDL being issued by their state of domicile

Driver Coercion: Effective Date January 29, 2016

New fines for carriers, shippers, receivers or transportation intermediaries who coerce truck drivers to operate outside of federal safety regulations have gone into effect, and any party in the supply chain found responsible for coercive acts will be fined up to $16,000 per incident. Coercing drivers to violate Hours of Service limits, drug and alcohol testing, hazardous materials rules and other regulations are prohibited. This regulation places shippers directly under the FMCSA’s regulatory purview for the first time.

Under the rule, coercion is defined as:

  • “A threat by a motor carrier, shipper, receiver, or transportation intermediary, or their respective agents, officers or representatives to withhold business, employment or work opportunities from, or to take or to permit any adverse employment action against, a driver in order to induce the driver to operate a commercial motor vehicle under conditions which the driver stated would require him or her to violate one or more FMCSA regulations; or the actual withholding of business, employment or work opportunities or the actual taking or permitting of any adverse employment action to punish a driver for having refused to engage in such operation of a commercial motor vehicle.”

Tank Endorsement: July 8, 2015 Effective Date

Shippers moving contained liquids in dry van trailers must now comply with the same tank endorsement rules as the bulk industry. The “Commercial Driver’s License Testing and Commercial Learner’s Permit Standards” rule redefined what is considered to be a tank and, for the first time, includes capacity requirements. Under the new rule, a tank is:

  1. “Any commercial vehicle that is designed to transport any liquid or gaseous material within a tank.”
  2. “Tanks having an individual rate capacity of more than 119 gallons and an aggregated capacity of 1,000 gallons or more that is either permanently or temporarily attached to the vehicle or chassis.”

Tanks that are manifested as either being empty or as residue on a bill of lading do not apply under the rule. If a load meets the capacity and configuration requirements defined above, a driver with a “tank endorsement” on his or her CDL must transport it.

Medical Examiner Rule: Effective Date May 21, 2014

In 2008, the FMCSA proposed a rule that would require individuals who administer medical exams for commercial drivers to be trained, tested and certified to a national standard. Additionally, a National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners (NRCME) would be created in order to track qualified medical professionals. This rule was developed in order to improve the medical oversight of commercial drivers as well as prevent commercial vehicle-related crashes, injuries and fatalities.

May 24, 2014, marked the deadline for medical examiners to be properly certified and registered to be compliant with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). Since then, standardized examinations have identified drivers who exhibit or are at-risk for conditions such as hypertension, sleep apnea and diabetes. Because of the increased complexity and administrative efforts associated with the NRCME, most medical professionals and/or healthcare providers have dramatically increased the price for physicals. These costs are being passed along to shippers and consumers.

Self-Certification: Effective Date January 30, 2014

As of January 30, 2014, all CDL holders in the U.S. must self-certify (formally disclose) to the State Licensing Agency (DMV) what type of work he or she does, using one of the following four categories:

  • Non-Excepted Interstate: Driver is engaged in interstate commerce and must meet the federal DOT medical card requirements
  • Excepted Interstate: Driver is engaged in interstate commerce and does not have to meet the DOT medical card requirements
  • Non-Excepted Intrastate: Driver is engaged in intrastate commerce and must meet state driver qualification requirements
  • Excepted Intrastate: Driver is engaged in intrastate commerce and does not have to meet the DOT medical card requirements

Drivers who work in interstate commerce will also need to provide a medical certification (DOT physical) to prove they are qualified to drive. Failure to present valid medical documentation will result in the denial of the issuance or renewal of the CDL, putting them out of commission until resolved.

Commercial Driver's License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse: Final rule published December 5, 2016–Effective January 6, 2020

This rule will create a national clearinghouse for DOT regulated positive drug and alcohol tests, excluding hair test results. Those drivers with a positive test will be removed from the industry unless they have completed the mandated return-to-duty process including treatment and follow-up testing. In addition, the rule would require:

  • Employers of CDL holders or their service agents to report positive test results to the clearinghouse
  • Prospective employers, acting on an application for a CDL driver position with the applicant’s written consent, to pay a fee and query the clearinghouse to determine if positive tests are on record for that applicant prior to hiring or allowing the person to drive a CMV
  • Carriers to check their entire existing fleet annually to ensure no new results are in the clearinghouse since the driver was hired or leased to
  • State licensing agencies to query the database and ensure no positive tests exist prior to issuing a new CDL or renewing or transferring a CDL

The rule is projected to cost $154 million annually and remove tens of thousands of drivers from entering the market. These increased costs are being passed along to shippers and consumers, becoming a permanent part of the market’s supply chain and distribution costs.

Forthcoming: A future regulation on the agenda would allow a state licensing agency to downgrade a CDL when a positive test is entered into the clearinghouse.

Proposed Regulations Expected in the Near Future

Diabetes Standard: Final Rule Expected in June 2018–Awaiting publication of final rule

In August 2017, FMCSA published a follow-up notice requesting comments on a revised proposal that would require insulin-dependent diabetic drivers to get a form from their treating clinician indicating their history with insulin, date of last comprehensive exam and any diabetic complications they have had. This form would be brought to the certified medical examiner doing the drivers DOT physical for review and to use in their determination of whether they will qualify the driver. If approved, a small number of insulin-dependent drivers may be added to the industry’s mix.

Unified Registration Rule: Projected Publication Date June 22, 2017– Awaiting publication of proposed rule

The proposed Unified Registration Rule will do the following:

  • Adjust the Unified Registration System (URS) registration fee for those under the FMCSA’s jurisdiction who must register with the agency to operate in interstate commerce
  • Implement several MAP-21 provisions that require changes to the URS regulations, the online application for U.S. DOT Number/Operating Authority Registration (Form MCSA-1) and MCSA-1 instructions
  • Prohibit transfers of operating authority registration
  • Make several technical amendments to the Motor Carrier Safety Administration (MCSA-1) form and instructions for purposes of clarification
  • Retire MC, MX, and FF numbers – DOT numbers will be the sole identifier for carriers, brokers, freight forwarders

The URS will streamline the registration process and serve as a clearinghouse and depository of information on, and identification of, motor carriers, brokers, freight forwarders, intermodal equipment providers, hazardous materials safety permit applicants and cargo tank facilities required to register with the FMCSA.

Military Licensing and State Commercial Driver’s License Reciprocity (CDL RULE Ⅱ): Notice of Proposed Rulemaking June 12, 2017– Comments due by August 11, 2017

The proposed rule will allow State Drivers Licensing Agencies to waive the requirements for the commercial driver’s license knowledge tests for certain individuals who are, or were, regularly employed within the last year in a military position that requires/required the operation of a commercial motor vehicle. This program is voluntary for states, and they would not be required to waive the knowledge or skills tests. The costs of this rule are thought to be minimal and not quantifiable, while benefits would be accrued primarily by the service member and their future employer.

Regulations Withdrawn

Carrier Safety Fitness Determination: Rule has been withdrawn pending review of CSA study results

The FMCSA withdrew its January 21, 2016, notice of proposed rulemaking on March 23, 2017. The notice had proposed changing the current Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) system to a one-rating system that would deem carriers “unfit” if they failed two or more CSA BASICS. The withdrawal was prompted by reactions to the initial proposal.

Speed Limiters: Rule was withdrawn July 2017

A pending rule by the U.S. DOT issued by both FMCSA and NHTSA will mandate the use of speed limiting devices — automatically calibrating a vehicle’s speed — on the electronic control modules (ECM) of newly manufactured trucks weighing more than 26,000 lb., effective three years after the final rule is published. The rule was withdrawn when the DOT moved the speed limiter mandate to a long-term agenda item, away from the active rulemakings list.

Evaluation of Safety Sensitive Personnel for Obstructive Sleep Apnea: Rule was withdrawn June 2017

The FMCSA and Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) requested data and information regarding the prevalence of moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) for individuals occupying safety-sensitive positions in rail and highway transportation. The agencies also sought information about the potential economic impact and safety benefits of regulatory action for transportation workers with multiple risk factors for OSA to undergo medical evaluation and treatment. The rule was withdrawn after the agencies determined there was not enough information available to support moving forward with a rulemaking action.

Minimum Liability Insurance: Rule was withdrawn June 2017

The FMCSA is proposing to raise the minimum amount of liability insurance carriers must have to operate. The current minimum, set in 1984, is $750,000, which the FMCSA advises should be closer to $2 million if it were indexed to inflation. The existing required minimum level of insurance does not offer adequate coverage for damages resulting from involvement in a serious accident and doesn’t come near providing the level of financial assurance that had been provided at the time the levels were last adjusted. According to the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee, an increase of this size could put extensive strain on small fleets and owner-operators. A lack of data from key stakeholders, such as insurance providers and carriers, led to the withdrawal of the rule.

Published June 2018

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