When it comes to regulations in the trucking industry, this has been the summer of uncertainty. There are quite a few proposed regulations that are still up in the air, and it can be confusing to keep fact from fiction. Four key proposed regulations that everyone in the trucking industry is keeping a close eye on are ELDs, speed limiters, the carrier “Safety Fitness Determination”, and increased insurance requirements. This week, we take a look at these hot regulatory topics to offer some clarification and timelines.

Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) – these regulation is in the final rule stage with the FMCSA; when made final, it will establish minimum performance and design standards for logging devices, will require mandatory use of the device, will have requirements on supporting documents that drivers will have to retain, and will include measures to address concerns about harassment resulting from the mandatory use of these devices. The final rule was submitted to the Office of the Secretary of Transportation (OST) on June 1st, and then further submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on July 30th. It is expected that the rule will be published in the Federal Register on September 30th; when published, there will be a phase in period for compliance, which is typically two to three years. During those years, the agency will probably see petitions for reconsideration and legal challenges that it will have to combat in order to keep the mandate alive.

Speed Limiters – this is in the proposed regulation stage, and is a joint rulemaking effort between the FMCSA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). If passed, the NHTSA will oversee rules related to new trucks, by mandating that all new trucks be equipped with activated speed limiting devices. The FMCSA will oversee trucks that are currently on the road, by mandating retrofits (which experts say will be  difficult). The FMCSA will also be able to prohibit trucks without activated speed limiters from operating in interstate commerce. This final rule is at the OMB and is presently going through a cost-benefit review. The agency is projecting publishing the proposed rule on August 20th. After that time, the agency will receive comments for a period of 2 months, then take these comments into consideration before moving ahead with a notice of proposed rulemaking, and a final rule or conversely, dismissing the proposal for speed limiters completely.

Carrier “Safety Fitness Determination” – this is also in the proposed regulation stage, with the FMCSA proposing a change to how carriers receive their “safety fitness determination.” Carriers are presently given a safety rating of satisfactory, conditional, or unsatisfactory that reflects their compliance with regulations. In order to get their rating, a carrier company must go through a safety audit, which means there are a large number of companies presently out there without a safety rating at all. To address this issue, the FMCSA is proposing that the carriers “Safety Fitness Determination” be tied to the carrier’s monthly safety rankings in the CSA. Many industry associations, drivers and law enforcement are taking issue with this proposal since the entire CSA program is viewed as flawed, with multiple reports showing why. This proposal is also coming under fire since there is already pending legislation at Congress level to remove CSA from public view. Despite this, the “Safety Fitness Determination” amendment proposal is currently at the OST. The FMCSA has estimated that the proposed regulation will be published in the Federal Register by the end of September; After that time, the agency will receive comments for a period of 2 months, take these comments into consideration before moving ahead with a notice of proposed rulemaking, and a final rule or conversely, dismissing the proposal.

Increased Insurance Requirements – experts say that it is likely that an amendment will be introduced to increase the requirement for small business truckers to increase their insurance from 750,000 for general freight to anywhere from $1.5 to $4.5million.  The large spread in the increase is due to the introduction of amendments from US senators that list the increase to insurance at different price levels. The OOIDA is rallying truckers to battle back against these amendments, and has issued a Call to Action at the beginning of July , asking members and others to contact their senators who serve on the committee and ask them to vote “no” against both attempts to increase the $750,000 insurance requirement on motor carriers. Work has already been done at the Congress level to block the increase to insurance. The House’s current Department of Transportation funding bill for the 2016 fiscal year includes a provision to bar FMCSA from increasing the required insurance minimum. The bill passed the House in May.

Regulatory Check In – What is on the Horizon in the Trucking Industry was last modified: by