2023 to See Dozen DOT Trucking Regulation Changes
After another year of the COVID pandemic and lagging supply chain issues, there was not a big push for major regulatory changes in 2021.
However, a massive infrastructure bill was passed into law in November and other major regulatory changes will go into effect quickly in 2022.
In 2022, some changes that the trucking industry may see include:
- CDL trainees – Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) rule
- Driver age – Under 21 Interstate Truck Drivers
- Drug and Alcohol Testing – changes to DOT Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse
- Safety Regulations
- Medical Examiner Final Rule
- Speeding – Speed Limiting Rule
- Hiring – California AB5 Independent Contractor Rule
Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) rule
As of February 7, 2022, entry-level CDL trainees will have much stricter requirements for obtaining their CDL.
The Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) rule establishes new minimum training requirements for individuals who want to:
- obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL)
- upgrade a CDL, or
- obtain a passenger (P), school bus (S) or hazardous materials (H) endorsement
Under these new requirements, an entry-level driver must successfully complete a prescribed program of theory and behind-the-wheel instruction.
Prior to taking the knowledge test or the state administered CDL skills or hazmat endorsement tests, training must be provided by an entity listed on FMCSA’s Training Provider Registry (TPR).
Under 21 Interstate Truck Drivers
In hopes to increase the share of younger drivers in the industry, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) proposed an under-21 commercial driver pilot program allowing young drivers aged 18, 19, and 20 to operate commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) in interstate commerce. Currently 18 to 20-year-olds are only allowed to operate intrastate commerce.
On Nov. 15, President Biden signed into law the $1 trillion infrastructure that requires the transportation secretary to establish an apprenticeship program for young drivers by Jan. 14, 2022. This program could certify up to 25,000 18- to 20-year-old drivers as long-haul truckers per year until it ends in 2024.
The apprentice truckers will be required to drive 240 hours under the supervision of an older driver in a truck equipped with safety features like automatic brake systems and a 65 mile per hour speed governor. After that, they’re free to drive any cross-state route in the country.
DOT Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse
Most notable is a proposed rule that would revise the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse. According to the abstract listed with the rule, the proposal would “streamline and improve error-correction procedures, queries and consent requirements.” As of right now, the notice of proposed rulemaking is expected in February 2022.
Other likely changes coming to the drug and alcohol Clearinghouse are exemption requests.
Last year, the Motion Picture Compliance Solutions (MPCS) exemption to the FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse Rule has been granted after stating that it did not fit their industry’s model.
Whether or not the exemptions are approved is yet to be seen and will depend highly on the situation of the particular carrier requesting the exemption.
Medical Examiner Final Rule
In December 2017, the registry experienced an outage that lasted seven months. During that time, FMCSA suspended medical examiners’ uploading of driver examinations until that functionality was restored.
A recent FMCSA supplemental notice proposes to extend the compliance date again for several provisions of its 2015 medical examiner’s certification integration final rule by another four years, until June 23, 2025, extending from the previous date of June 22, 2021.
According to the new notice, “this action is being taken to provide FMCSA time to complete certain information technology system development tasks for its National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners and to provide the state driver’s licensing agencies sufficient time to make the necessary IT programming changes after the new national registry system is available.”
Since the hacking outage, the FMCSA says it has experienced additional setbacks in its efforts to launch the national registry replacement system that require an additional delay.
Serving as deputy administrator of FMCSA since January 2021, Meera Joshi is waiting to be confirmed as the next FMCSA administrator.
Joshi mentioned four important safety priorities that could be coming in the industry:
- Electronic transfer of license data between states: This rulemaking is in the final months of getting published for interstate cooperation as there needs to be swift and current data transfer between states around CDL licensure.
- Have state’s downgrade license if a positive drug test is submitted to FMCSA’s Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse to keep risky drivers off the roads
- Strengthening FMCSA’s new entrant program
- Increase the scope of motor carrier investigations to encompass more at-risk behavior
As a new entrant, it is required to follow Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations and they will want to see some established records and processes during your New Entrant Safety Audit that will happen within the first 12 months of operation to complete the New Entrant Program.
Speed Limiting Rule
In June 2021, House lawmakers re-introduced another trucking speed limiter bill that would require the technology would be set to a maximum speed of 65 mph, or 70 mph with adaptive cruise control systems, as well as automatic emergency braking systems.
The proposal suggested maximum top speeds of 60, 65 or 68 mph, but backed away from anti-tampering requirements.
But as of May 2022, FMCSA is looking into this again.
Implementing speed limiters is not the most important discussion point. The question is, will the proposed regulation actually achieve what it is intended to do?
California AB5 Independent Contractor Rule
The biggest issue affecting trucking is the California’s AB5 independent contractor bill that was signed into law in 2019. It has effectively outlawed the leased owner-operator market in California and is currently going through the court system.
Hours before the law was to take effect Jan. 2020, a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order blocking the state from enforcing it upon truck drivers.
How AB5 affects the trucking industry in California and nearby states
The United States Supreme Court on November 15th invited the Solicitor General to file a brief expressing the federal government’s views on whether the Supreme Court should hear California Trucking Association’s suit claiming federal law preempts California’s AB 5 for the trucking industry.
The injunction should remain in place while SCOTUS awaits the Solicitor General’s brief.
More recently, the Supreme Court of the United States declined to hear the first AB5 case from carrier Cal Cartage on October 4, 2021, leaving in place a split in authority regarding whether states can change the rules regarding how truckers are treated.
The next step will be CTA’s case at the U.S. Supreme Court that relies on slightly different arguments and factual statements than Cal Cartage case.
To summarize, as a trucking professional or trucking company owner in 2022, there a few things that you should consider.
If you are getting your CDL or paying to have your drivers trained, it would benefit you to get a CDL permit before the ELDT Rule goes into effect on February 7, 2022.
If you operate interstate, you may be able to consider hiring younger drivers in the 18-20 age range. Although these drivers are young with no experience, the benefit is that you can mold them. Breaking bad habits of experienced drivers is more difficult than developing good habits right out of the gate.
Also, depending on where you are located and how the AB5 rule evolves, you may not be able to hire owner operators as independent contractors any longer. These contractors would have to be treated as full-time employees and offered benefits.
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