One of the most common challenges in the trucking industry, both for carriers and shippers, is understanding and having more transparency into government regulations. The FMCSA has had updates in policies recently, and many of these changes can substantially impact the current state of trucking in many ways. It is crucial to recognize the key trucking regulations that will come into play, and how can they affect your business.
What are the main trucking regulations to watch in 2020?
Alcohol and Drug Clearinghouse
The roll-out of the Alcohol and Drug Clearinghouse is probably the loudest and the most
discussed update from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The project, that was officially released on January 6, 2020, is a secure database where any involved party can monitor if a certain Commercial Driver License holder has records of violation of alcohol and drug usage policies over the last five years. The testing requirement won’t change, but will now be located in a centralized online database. The main goal of the clearinghouse is bringing more visibility into driver’s professional history and improving drivers’ vetting process for motor carriers. The full compliance is expected on January 6, 2023.
The obligatory implementation of ELD’s and required recording of drivers’ hours of service increased the regulations’ compliance and safety. However, many of the HOS rules made it harder for drivers to operate in certain cases. The most common complaint was reduced schedule flexibility, which FMCSA decided to address in the newest update of these regulations. Here are some key outtakes of the proposed changes:
- Add two more hours to the 11-hour driving limit
- Increasing the short-haul exception from 12-hour limit to 14-hour limit, and 100 miles to 150 miles
- Adding a 30-minute off-duty break as an extension of the 14-hour limit
- Prolong the sleeping berth exception
- Allowing any 30-minute time-off the road count as the rest time
The updates are called to give drivers more flexibility on how to use their off-duty time while being more efficient and compliant.
Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT)
The new regulation that will take effect on February 7, 2020, is related to all the driver training providers. There are many independent training programs that promise to prepare college graduates for the trucking industry and make them CDL holders. However, with the new regulation, all education enthusiasts have to be registered in the Training Provider Registry and approved by the FMCSA.
Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) Program
CSA is an already implemented safety program, however, the updated rules and requirements will be applied on September 20, 2020. Now, FMCSA is conducting an internal review of Item Response Theory. This will conclude to the final report and changes to the current testing programs, that are believed to increase safety on the roads and better inspect commercial motor vehicles.
California Assembly Bill (AB) 5
The new state regulation on working with independent contractors is not solely related to trucking but more to the general employment laws. However, it can greatly impact the hiring and employment process in the trucking industry as well. The new law restricts the ways to classify workers as independent contractors and pushes more towards signing them as employees. California AB 5 is called to bring more security to workers as employees, giving them more stable working conditions and avoiding the pitfalls of the gig economy. Although the law took effect in California, it’s likely that other states will follow these policy updates too.