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The Latest Update On Trucking Regulations and the FAST Act

It’s been a while since we took a comprehensive look at the various trucking regulations set to affect our industry, so in that spirit we want to update you, our loyal readers, regarding what’s going on in Washington.

It’s no secret that the past few years have been a regulatory roller coaster ride for the trucking industry. From the FAST Act to the 34-hour restart rule, the trucking industry has a lot to prepare for.

The 34-hour Restart Rule

The first item on the table is the 34-hour restart rule. In a prior house bill, the Department of Transportation (DOT) was told that before they could reinstate the 34-hour restart provisions, they had to complete a comprehensive study showing how the rule improved safety and operator fatigue. In the end, the results would have to be certified by the DOT inspector general.

But a subsequent law removed the statement that the 34-hour restart rule would stay in place. It is expected that when the FMCSA reports to Congress in the second quarter of this year, the 34-hour restart will be removed entirely and reverted back to the 2003 hours-of-service rules.

Now it seems a deal has been struck in the Senate to instead put a cap on on-duty time after 73 hours in a week. This would be in exchange for trading out the 34-hour restart rule. Yet in an election year, things could change. We’ll see what happens with hours-of-service after November.

Next up is the latest highway bill, otherwise known as the FAST Act. Did you know the FAST Act made some provisional changes to the CSA program?

Let’s dig a little deeper.

CSA and the FAST Act

The FAST Act changes the CSA program in the following ways:

  • An 18-month study must be conducted by the National Academy of Sciences to analyze the accuracy of CSA, SMS and the BASIC scoring system.
  • The study will review specific methodology related to how BASIC percentiles are calculated. It also aims to determine the ties between crash risk and specific violations.
  • Congress must receive a corrective action plan within 120 days of the report being submitted and it must outline how the FMCSA intends to address deficiencies.

Beyond these provisions, the FMCSA has been directed to not make publicly available information on how the information is analyzed and what the BASIC percentages are. The agency is also not permitted to use CSA data for alerts and safety fitness determinations. The agency can still use the data behind the scenes for enforcement actions, however.

More on the FAST Act

With the FMCSA recently announcing they were seeking input on implementation of the FAST Act requirement regarding installation of safety equipment and driver fitness measures, expect fleets to quickly begin implementing these changes well ahead of any rule implementation.

The FAST Act is also governed by specific impact analysis events and how the FMCSA makes rules. Congress has required that all proposed and final rules use the best available science and data to evaluate the effects of said rules on motor carriers of various types and sizes.

The FMCSA has also been instruction to post a summary of all the rulemaking petitions and regulatory interpretations or clarifications. This information must be posted on the agency’s website within 180 days. Petitions must also be prioritized to reduce crashes, improve specific enforcement actions, or reduce unnecessary hang-ups.

Finally, the FMCSA must exempt allow carriers to conduct their own proprietary pre-employment drug and alcohol tests, and to use hair-testing in place of urine, where available.

As it turns out, there’s still a lot in the pipe where regulations are concerned. Congress has been hard at work both imposing then removing rules on the trucking industry. Join us next time when we dive back into regulatory requirements and take a deeper look at the Safety Fitness Determination rule and the ELD mandate.

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