Trucking Regulations: What’s In, What’s Out, and What Does It Mean to You?

In the ever-changing landscape of trucking regulations, the industry hit an unexpected bump in the road on Jan. 30, 2017. When the Executive Order from the Trump administration to suspend any new regulations for 60 days was issued, several trucking regulations were in varying stages of implementation. Now, carriers, shippers and logistics service providers will need to examine each rule to determine if it will be a curve in the road or a complete detour.

What’s In

Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs)

Some regulations are not affected by the moratorium and will move forward. One of these is the requirement that commercial vehicles and drivers with Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDLs) must use electronic logging devices (ELDs), rather than keeping paper logs. The ELD mandate actually became a law in 2015, with a two-year compliance period, which means ELDs must be in place by December 18, 2017. Going forward, this could require investments in equipment, new processes for drivers and changes in record keeping practices for carriers, owner operator drivers, and managers of private fleets.

Hours of Service Rules for Truck Drivers (HOS)

Another regulation that has been the subject of much debate is not expected to change as a result of the Jan. 30 Executive Order is the Hours of Service (HOS) rules for truck drivers. The rules were published in 2011, with some provisions delayed until 2013. Since that time, stakeholders with varying viewpoints have challenged some provisions of the rules many times.

Today, the current HOS rules include a 34-hour restart period for drivers, and the 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. mandatory rest period that was included in the original HOS rules has been eliminated. Because this provisional update was a legislative change, trucking officials state that the Presidential Executive Order on Reducing and Controlling Regulatory Costs should have no impact on the status of the HOS.

What’s Out … Maybe

Minimum Training Requirements for Entry-Level Commercial Vehicle Operators

On December 26, 2016, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced a Final Rule establishing comprehensive national minimum training standards for entry-level commercial truck drivers, as well as bus operators seeking a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) or certain endorsements. This rule only applies to drivers receiving their CDL on or after Feb. 7, 2020. However, due to its timing, this rule is also impacted by the Executive Order and will be reviewed by the Trump administration. At this time, the FMCSA has officially moved the implementation date to March 21, 2017.

Speed Limiters

Similarly, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the FMCSA issued a proposal last year that would require speed limiters on vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 26,000 lbs. The proposal recommends speed limits of 60, 65 or 68 miles per hour (mph) and would be accomplished by requiring a speed limiting device on trucks. Like training for truck drivers, this rule will be delayed and is subject to review by the Trump Administration.

What Does This Mean to You?

The current state of trucking regulations could mean new requirements, delayed implementation dates or the elimination of rules altogether. At this point, the future is unknown. What is clear is that understanding and complying with changing trucking regulations can be time consuming and data intensive. And, this is just one part of your responsibilities, which also includes operating efficiently and meeting customer requirements.

While a Transportation Management System (TMS) cannot simplify the regulatory landscape, advanced technology can enable automation of processes and support management by exception. Some fleet management solutions allow users to manage equipment, drivers and operations all from a single TMS platform. That sounds like a smooth road ahead with no delays!

Todd Bucher is Vice President of Fleet Management at MercuryGate.