As we transition from a Republican agenda to a Democrat agenda with Biden coming into office, there is potential for substantial impact within the trucking industry in the coming years.
Since Democrats have won a majority in the U.S. House in 2018, they have laid out a bolstered regulatory agenda regarding trucking, including previously proposed bills that call on a return to public view of CSA scores, speed limiter rules, and sleep apnea rules.
Overall, we expect a more active regulatory DOT, since Biden is looking to amend DOT order 2100.6 to eliminate Trump’s requirement that new rules require repeal of two existing rules.
Let’s take a look at what 2021 may bring.
2020 Hour of Service Rule Changes
Last year marked the first time the hours-of-service rules had a major update in years that were highlighted after the ELD rollout.
Drivers could begin operating under the new HOS regulations on September 29, 2020 after the rule was debuted on May 14, 2020.
The HOS rules changes will improve the workday for many truckers, including short-haul and team drivers, and will increase overall flexibility while the overall structure of HOS rules have not changed.
The 4 major changes in the 2020 hours of service reforms will affect the:
- 30-minute rest break requirement
- split-sleeper berth exception
- short-haul exemption, and
- adverse driving condition exemption
The DOT may look at the other HOS rule changes that did not make a cut, and what effects the new changes are making, as to whether implement more HOS changes in the future.
DOT Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse
Another major CDL Clearinghouse deadline approaches where companies could face fines, if in violation, and the Clearinghouse website may crash again as required annual query deadline approaches
With the FMCSA Clearinghouse now in effect for pre-employment, random testing and return-to-duty processes, employers of CDL drivers must follow a new drug testing process when hiring a potential new driver before a pre-employment drug test can be done at a collection site.
Violations can occur if required information is not loaded into the database, or if pre-employment drug tests are performed before a new hire gives consent for a detailed query.
Before the new hire driver can be tested, the employer needs to make sure the driver is registered to the FMCSA Clearinghouse, then request electronic driver consent to run a detailed query, run a query on the driver (employer or C/TPA), and ensure no recent negative drug testing history is present.
The other major required process for employers, including owner-operators, is to annually query all current CDL drivers at least once a year to make sure no violations appeared in the database. If the limited query returns any results, a detailed query is required.
This means the majority of CDL drivers need to have had a limited query run on them by January 6, 2021 or face potential violations and fines if found to be done late or not at all during an audit.
Greenhouse Gas Emission
Biden will likely restore strict fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions standards that were placed during the Obama administration, which Trump rolled back.
Biden is also expected to drop the effort to revoke California’s waiver, which would allow the state to set its own greenhouse gas emissions standards, while the EPA under a Democratic administration will develop a more collaborative relationship with California air quality regulators.
Speed Limiting Rule
In June 2019, Senators revived a plan that would “require all new commercial trucks with a gross weight of 26,001 pounds or more to be equipped with speed-limiting devices, which must be set to a maximum speed of 65 miles per hour and be used at all times while in operation.”
The maximum speed requirement would also be extended to existing trucks that already have the technology installed.
Trucks without speed limiters will not be forced to retroactively install the technology.
This legislation is likely to be brought back in a Biden administration.
Sleep apnea is a breathing-related sleep disorder that causes brief interruptions of breathing during sleep. These pauses in breathing can last at least 10 seconds or more and can occur up to 400 times a night.
With 28% of commercial truck drivers likely suffering from mild to severe sleep apnea, these drivers are five times more likely to be involved in a crash, and the total cost of collisions related to apnea is estimated at $15.9 billion a year, according to research from the National Safety Council.
In order to diagnose sleep apnea, your doctor may send you to a sleep center for testing. You may be asked to spend a night at the center, where experts will monitor your sleep.
In August 2017, FMCSA and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) decided against moving forward on a possible regulation mandating the testing and treatment of sleep apnea for truck drivers and other transportation workers.
This is on the back-burner but not completely dead.
Hair Drug Testing
The industry is seeking additional drug testing methods, like hair and oral saliva testing, that can be used to prevent unsafe drivers on the roads as these methods are harder to cheat and provide a more complete drug testing history.
Large fleets have long used hair testing for pre-employment testing, catching 5 to 10 times more drug users than industry standard urine testing. However, currently these positive results cannot be released to the drivers record per DOT regulations.
Once completed, the DOT will adopt HHS hair testing guidelines and eventually prevent these drivers from seeking a job with another fleet.
The HHS proposed hair testing guidelines were published in the Federal Register on September 10, 2020. After the 60-day comment period, which ended November 10, 2020, HHS will review all comments and can make additional changes to their proposal. This process could take months.
When HHS releases their final proposed guidelines, the industry will need to wait for the Department of Transportation to go through its rulemaking process to allow the use of hair testing by motor carriers. While the DOT will likely adopt HHS guidelines, this process could take two years on its own.
However, Congress may try to push for immediate DOT adoption and the incoming Biden administration may apply pressure to speed up this process as well.
Don’t worry, truckers will not be affected tomorrow, but it is definitely something to think about over the next decade or two.
There is much that still needs to be considered before mass adoption of electric fleet vehicles like the Tesla Semi. This includes dozens to hundreds of megacharging stations to be built at trucking terminals and over the road chargers meant for truckers, showing they can handle consistent next day maintenance repairs if the truck breaks down, etc.
However, the incoming Biden administration is expected to increase regulatory oversight of electric and self-driving cars and trucks and increase the availability of federal tax credits for EVs.
For fleets to realize economic gains from autonomy requires a new set of processes and systems designed to assure safety and provide a positive return on investment. Over time, fleets would expect to see more balanced routes and reduction in mixed traffic and commuter congestion.
If the technology is nailed, then peak hours of travel can be circumnavigated to provide greater assurance on cargo arrival times, partnered with improved safety of fellow road-users.
Companies with Virginia truck drivers will have to create infectious disease preparedness and response plans
Virginia is the first state to impose enforceable COVID-19 safety requirements in the workplace. Fleets based in or operating in the state are now figuring out what the effect of this new law will be for their drivers and operations.
The final Emergency Temporary Standard rule was first made public on July 17 by the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry and anticipates publication during the week of July 27.
What is required once the rule is published?
According to the rule, all companies based in Virginia will be required to:
- classify employees by risk level (very high, high, medium and lower) based on workplace hazards and job tasks
- establish policies for employees to self-monitor for COVID-19 signs and to report symptoms
- put in place procedures to prevent employees who are known to have or are suspected of having COVID-19 from infecting co-workers, and
- develop and implement a written infectious disease preparedness and response plan for employers of people in “medium risk” jobs (including truck drivers) that require being closer than 6 feet to other employees or the general public
Employers have 60 days from the rule’s effective (publication) date to develop the plan.
What does the Virginia Trucking Association (VTA) say?
According to Freightwaves, Dale Bennett, president and CEO of the Virginia Trucking Association, is seeking more clarity from the state on what he says could be a major regulatory burden for his members as well as shippers and receivers.
“If you have motor carriers or trucking companies that either do business in Virginia or have facilities in Virginia and you haven’t paid attention to this, you need to wake up,” Bennett told FreightWaves. “Anytime you talk about a new regulation, there’s going to be some cost associated with that. There are now certain requirements and responsibilities on the employer to report when employees test positive. These aren’t just guidelines anymore.”
For carriers that do not have locations in Virginia, once a driver steps out of the cab inside Virginia, there may be parts of these regulations that affect them.
What are the penalties if you disregard the rules?
According to Virginia Department of Labor and Industry, they can enforce the rules with fines for noncompliance ranging from $13,000 to $130,000 for repeat offenders and the state may shutter an employer’s operations, if deemed necessary.
How long will this last and what about other states?
The rules are set to expire six months after becoming published but could be extended if the state decides to do so.
We will be watching if additional states adopt similar plans.
DOT Compliance Services
Our complete Proactive Safety Management (PSM) program has been organized to get you through an FMCSA audit by managing your driver qualification files, drug consortium, Electronic Logging Devices (ELD), vehicle maintenance and more.
Whether you are a large trucking company that is on-boarding drivers quickly or a construction outfit with multiple trucks in your fleet, you need to stay aware of FMCSA regulations.
In response to the HOS issues highlighted during the ELD mandate rollout, and in an effort to improve safety and flexibility to CMV drivers, the new hours-of-service rule changes effective September 29th.
“Right now, there’s no effort to abate or hold off on Sept. 29,” said the agency’s Acting Administrator, Jim Mullen, in FMCSA’s online Truck Safety Summit held Aug. 5.
In August of 2019 the FMCSA released a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) related to the hours of service rules and regulations and were also taking public comment on the DOT hours-of-service proposal.
On March 2, 2020, the FMCSA announced that they have filed the rule to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which is one of the final steps before the rule is published in the Federal Register.
When will the HOS rule take effect?
Drivers could begin operating under the new HOS regulations on September 29, 2020 after the rule was debuted on May 14, 2020.
During this time, ELD providers will have to implement software changes to reflect the new hours of service rules.
The only thing that could delay the HOS rules is a $1.5 trillion transportation and infrastructure bill passed by the House in July.
According to the bill, it would require that the FMCSA perform a comprehensive review of the regulations to determine their safety impact and give an additional public comment period, delaying HOS rule changes for months.
What are the new hours of service rules?
There are 4 major changes to be included in the hours of service reforms.
For detailed examples of what would or would not qualify as a violation…
Download FMCSA HOS Updates Guide
Changes will lengthen the current 100 air-mile exemption of the drivers’ maximum on‑duty period from 12 to 14 hours, and extending the short-haul radius from 100 air-miles to 150 air-miles, to be consistent with the 150 air-mile exemption of trucks with a GVWR of 26,000 lbs. or less.
Drivers under the short-haul exemption are not required to keep records of duty status.
Adverse driving conditions exception:
Changes will extend both their drive-time limit and their on-duty window by 2 hours if they encounter adverse conditions such as weather or traffic congestion.
According to the FMCSA, the provision will allow drivers to either sit and wait out the conditions or to slowly drive through them with caution.
30-minute break requirement:
Changes will allow drivers to satisfy the required break using on-duty (not driving status) rather than off-duty, and requiring it within their first 8 hours of drive time, rather than their first 8 hours on-duty.
For example, if you are on-duty refueling your truck and it takes 30 minutes, this could qualify as your 30-minute rest break.
Sleeper berth exception:
Changes will allow more flexibility for drivers to split the required 10 hours off-duty into two periods.
7 and 3 split: Must contain at least 7 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth and 3 hours off duty. The shorter period will pause the rolling on-duty clock.
8 and 2 split: Must contain at least 8 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth and no less than 2 consecutive hours off duty. The shorter period will pause the rolling on-duty clock.
Unlike the proposal issued last August, the hours of service changes do not include the option for drivers to pause their 14-hour clock for up to three hours while off-duty to extend the 14-hour clock.
Mullen said the agency deemed the seven-hour, three-hour split “sufficiently flexible” to that end, given with the new change the shorter period in any sleeper split will in fact stop the rolling duty clock, unlike the current split-sleeper rules.
What does this mean for fleets and truck drivers?
These changes provide an important time for fleets to update their driver training. CNS offers a variety of in-person and online training courses for the specific needs or weaknesses of your company or its’ drivers.
Fleets that incorporate training alongside driver qualification, drug testing and fuel tax management can create a complete picture of fleet safety.
Our complete safety program—Proactive Safety Management (PSM) Program—will complement or become your current safety department, without the cost of employing the many staff members it takes to run an effective safety program.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has extended and expanded its emergency declaration providing regulatory relief to truck drivers who are transporting emergency supplies during the coronavirus outbreak.
This is the sixth extension, which will now last through Dec. 31.
The original declaration was put in place on March 13 and was most previously set to expire Sept. 14.
The FMCSA’s declaration grants exemption from Parts 390-399 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. This includes hours of service (HOS), parts and accessories needed for safe operation, and longer combination vehicles.
The FMCSA notice states that, “Because emergency conditions have not abated, FMCSA is extending [the] emergency declaration and associated regulatory relief.” “This extension of the emergency declaration addresses national emergency conditions that create a need for immediate transportation of essential supplies, equipment and persons, and provides necessary relief from the FMCSRs for motor carriers and drivers engaged in the transport of essential supplies, equipment and persons.”
In addition to extending the time frame for the declaration, the notice also expands on the already once expanded HOS exemption list, adding the transportation of liquefied gases used in refrigeration or cooling systems.
The first expansion to the HOS emergency declaration offering relief for drivers providing direct assistance in support of emergency efforts to meet immediate needs for:
- Medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19.
- Supplies and equipment necessary for community safety, sanitation and prevention of community transmission of COVID-19 such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants.
- Food, paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores.
- Immediate precursor raw materials, such as paper, plastic or alcohol, that are required and to be used for the manufacture of essential items.
- Equipment, supplies and persons necessary to establish and manage temporary housing or quarantine.
- Persons designated by federal, state or local authorities for medical, isolation or quarantine purposes.
- Persons necessary to provide other medical or emergency services.
The FMCSA has made it very clear that the emergency declaration does not change any traffic or safety laws drivers are expected to abide by, such as speed limits. Drivers are also still required to continue following FMCSA rules and requirements related to commercial driver licenses, drugs and alcohol, hazardous materials, size, weight and registration requirements.
Motor carriers are not allowed to force or even authorize a fatigued driver to operate a commercial motor vehicle. In an instance where a driver makes it known to a carrier that he or she needs rest, the driver must be given at least 10 consecutive hours before returning to service.
Automated speeding camera in PA work zones
PennDOT has initiated an automated camera program in hopes of creating long-lasting changes in driver behavior. By using technology to their advantage, their goal is to make the roadways safer for both drivers and workers.
With all the new laws and technology, drivers have many questions. We’re here to answer those for you!
When will the camera tracking program start?
The Automated Work Zone Speed Enforcement program started on March 4, 2020. The new automated camera systems began installation in 2019, and will continue into 2020.
Why are cameras being installed in work zones?
Speeding violations are the number one ticketed offense in Pennsylvania. Reports in 2017 show 1,778 work-zone accidents, resulting in 19 fatalities and over 1,100 injuries. This technology-based program from the PennDOT was put into motion with the intent of saving lives, not penalizing drivers. The goal is to slow traffic through work zones.
The law passed in 2018 allows for the Automated Work Zone Speed Enforcement program to be put into action. This program is approved to be piloted for 5 years.
Where will cameras be installed?
Speed cameras will be installed in work zones on highways across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
The following zones will have the first group of cameras installed:
- Interstate 78 Section 12M Project (Mile Markers 35-43), Berks County
- Interstate 476 Total Reconstruction (Mileposts 31-38), Montgomery County
- Interstate 83 Exit 4 Project (Mileposts 3-4), York County
- US 1, Section WAV (Wayne Avenue Viaduct), Philadelphia
- US 1, Section RC1, Bucks County
- Interstate 276, Section RC1, Bucks County
- PA 885, Section A45 (Boulevard of the Allies in Pittsburgh from downtown to Oakland), Allegheny County
How many camera systems are installed?
Two systems were scheduled to be done by the end of 2019. Only ten systems are expected to be installed by the end of 2020. As more work zones install cameras, you can track their installation here.
How will the automated camera systems capture speeding violations?
In Pennsylvania, you can be issued a speeding ticket if you’re even just 1 mph over the speed limit. With the new automated camera system, cameras will capture speeds and photos of license plates. Drivers with speeds exceeding the posted speed limit by 11 mph will receive a ticket via mail.
Camera zones will have signs alerting drivers, and fines will only be issued during active construction times.
What kinds of fines will be issued for speeding drivers?
Fines in the Automated Work Zone Speed Enforcement program use the following schedule:
- First offense – warning letter
- Second offense – $75 fine
- Third and all other offenses – $150 each
Tickets are mailed to drivers within 30 days. No violation will add points to your license if you pay within 90 days.
What will the fine money be used for?
Monies collected from speeding violation fines will pay for the camera technology and its administration. Any additional monies will be used to support state police, PennDOT, and the General Fund.
Are automated camera systems here to stay?
Since this is a pilot program, after five years, the results and benefits will be reevaluated and need to be reauthorized.
The PennDOT is hopeful this program, instead of penalizing drivers, will create a behavior shift that makes working and driving on the roads safer for all.
Starting today, April 1, 2020, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) 2020 North American Standard Out-of-Service Criteria is now in effect. The 2020 out-of-service criteria replaces and supersedes all previous versions.
The North American Standard Out-of-Service Criteria (OOSC) is the pass-fail criteria for roadside safety inspections. The purpose of the criteria is to identify critical safety violations. Those violations render the driver, vehicle and/or motor carrier out of service until the condition(s) or violation(s) are corrected or repaired.
In accordance with CVSA Bylaws, the proposed changes were communicated to the voting members of the Alliance on Oct. 15, 2019 and were ratified on Nov. 1, 2019. There was an additional ballot clarification regarding OOSC Ballot Item #2 which was communicated to the membership on Dec. 10, 2019 and ratified on Dec. 20, 2019. The following changes were made to the out-of-service criteria:
- Modified the subtitle in Part I, Item 2. Operator’s/chauffeur’s license or permit (non-CDL), a. Vehicle 26,000 lbs. Or less GVWR not designed to transport 16 or more passengers or placarded loads of hazardous materials.
- Included information outlining a valid Canadian dangerous goods training certificate to Part I, Item 2. Operator’s/chauffeur’s license or permit (non-CDL), b. Endorsements and restrictions and Part I, item 3. Commercial driver’s license (CDL), c. Endorsements and restrictions.
- Amended Part I, Item 7. Drugs and other substances; as identified under section 392.4(a) by adding OOSC regarding the FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse and removing “as identified under section 392.4(a)” from the title.
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- Removed the reference to an AOBRD in Footnote 14 and added a note for Footnotes 11-14. Part I, Item 9. Driver’s record of duty status – US – footnotes for driver’s record of duty status – US
- Removed the out-of-service condition of 72 hours for no log from Part I, Item 10. Driver’s record of duty status – Canada, h. No daily log (See Footnote 2).
- Amended Part I, Item 10. Driver’s record of duty status – Canada – footnotes for driver’s record of duty status – Canada, Footnote 2, to reduce the amount of time a driver can be behind on his/her daily log and not be declared out of service.
- Updated Part I, Item 11. Driver’s record of duty status – Mexico by replacing the OOSC for Mexico to reflect the requirements in the NOM-087-SCT-2-2017 and adding footnotes.
- Added the new SAE J2899 markings found on brake chambers to Part II, Item 1. Brake systems, a. Defective brakes, Brake Adjustment Reference Charts (Clamp Type).
- Clarified in Part II, Item 1. Brake systems, e. Parking brake that a parking brake needs to be held by mechanical means.
- Amended Part II, Item 11. Suspensions, d. Suspension connecting rod, tracking component assembly or sway bar components by removing sway bars from the OOSC.
- Clarified in Part II, Item 12. Tires, a. Any tire on any steering axle(s) of a power unit, (9) and b. All tires other than those found on the front steering axle(s) of a powered unit that the condition refers to a wheel end of a vehicle.
- Amended Part II, Item 16. Buses, motorcoaches, passenger vans or other passenger-carrying vehicles – emergency exits/electrical cables and systems in engine and battery compartments/seating (temporary and aisle seats) by adding OOSC for emergency exits that are marked but not necessarily required.
- Amended Part III, Item 3. Bulk packages, c. Bulk package authorization by modifying the title and out-of-service condition to include Canadian terminology.
- Added a note regarding manhole covers to Part III, Item 3. Bulk packages, d. Venting devices, manhole covers, fill/inspection openings and discharge valves.
- Modified the title and condition in Part III, Item 6. Non-bulk packaging to include Canadian terminology.
- Added a condition to Part III, Item 10. Emergency response assistance plan (ERAP) (in Canada only) by outlining that ERAP information must be on the shipping document.
For more information, CVSA provides a document that outlines each of the above-mentioned amendments, along with a detailed description of the rationale behind each change.