Checking in on DOT Trucking Regulations in 2019
Even with many proposed rules put on the back-burner at the beginning of Trump’s presidency, 2019 has been a year of anticipated changes or released updates. This is a quick guide at the status of the many FMCSA regulatory changes coming this year or years to come.
ELD – AOBRD Transition
At least 40 percent of drivers are still using AOBRDs, and nearly 80 percent of those don’t plan to switch to ELDs until the second half of 2019, just ahead of the deadline.
On December 16th, 2019, all “grandfathered” AOBRD devices must be transitioned to a mandate-compliant ELD. During the 2017 ELD implementation, many companies and owner-operators who decided to delay getting an ELD by installing AOBRDs are now facing another transition.
Proposed HOS Rule Changes
The long-anticipated Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration hours-of-service proposed rule has been delayed from its original release date of June 7. The new proposed release date is now July 31st.
The agency published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Aug. 23rd, 2018 concerning the shorthaul HOS limit, the HOS exception for adverse driving conditions, the 30-minute rest-break provision and the split sleeper-berth rule to allow drivers to divide their required rest time in the sleeper berth.
To see what we assume will change, watch our conference presentation “What’s Next for Hours of Service?”. Stay tuned for a webinar in August after the new changes are announced.
DOT Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse
FMCSA recently launched their new Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse website with information about the Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse where CDL drivers and their employers will be required to use the Clearinghouse beginning January 6, 2020.
Company registration to the Clearinghouse will begin Fall 2019 where users can establish an account that will allow access to the clearinghouse once it becomes operational on January 6, 2020.
The clearinghouse rule was approved but is in a holding pattern, since the Department of Health and Human Services must develop guidelines for hair testing before DOT can change the rule.
Speed Limiter Rule
In June 2019, Senators revived a plan to cap semi truck speed limits at 65 MPH nationwide. The bill 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.”
“The majority of trucks on our roads already have speed-limiting technology built in, and the rest of the technologically advanced world has already put them to use to ensure drivers follow safe speeds,” said Isakson. “This legislation would officially enforce a long-awaited speed limit of 65 mph on large trucks and reduce the number of preventable fatalities on our busy roadways.”
The legislation has been introduced but is unclear at this time whether it will reach the Presidents desk for signature.
Sleep Apnea Update
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 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. We will dive into this topic in our August 2019 webinar. Click here to register for the free webinar with our guest speaker and regulatory trucking expert, John Sallak.
Hair Drug Testing
Long-awaited guidelines on using hair tests to detect drugs in the workplace have been sent to the White House but a federal requirement for truck drivers is still likely years away.
David Osiecki, President and CEO of Scopelitis Transportation Consulting, told FreightWaves that once the OMB approval process is completed – which itself could take 90 days or more – two federal agencies would have to go through a rulemaking process before hair testing for drugs is required for commercial drivers: one from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance (ODAPC), and one from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
“So we’re actually years away from hair testing in the commercial trucking sector due to the steps that still have to be taken,” he said.
A coalition of some of the country’s largest trucking companies continue their push to speed up this process as data found in their survey in which applicants were screened for drug use via both a urine analysis test and a hair sample test, projects that 301,000 truck drivers currently on the road would fail or refuse a hair analysis.