#1 ELD Mandate
The ELD mandate went into full effect on December 17, 2017. However, some commercial vehicles that were still using the Automatic On-Board Recording Devices (AOBRDs) were excluded from this new ELD rule. However, those fleets still using AOBRDs were expected to switch to the new ELDs by December 17, 2019.
#2 Hours of Service Reform
All of the controversies around the ELD mandate shed some light on something the trucking industry has known for a long time: the current hours of service regulations are outdated – and don’t give drivers the flexibility they need to do their jobs well. New guidance expected early this year around four specific hours of service areas:
Expanding the on-duty time for drivers who use the 100 air-mile exemption
Extending the on-duty limitation for the adverse conditions exemption
Revising the current 30-minute break requirement
Providing more flexibility around sleeper berth time
More than 5,100 comments were received this fall when the agency asked for public feedback on the suggested changes– confirmation of the industry’s passion for hours of service reform. To give them more time to focus on this issue (and review all of the comments more quickly), the agency recently canceled the split-sleeper berth study that was supposed to kick off this year. The goal of the study was to evaluate whether giving drivers more flexibility in managing their sleeper berth time impacted their overall safety on the road. The agency felt that continuing this study was “moot,” as sleeper berth time is one of the hours of service areas being considered for reform.
#3 DOT Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse
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.
Federal Bill HR 6 was signed into law October 24, 2018, which reaffirms that the FMCSA Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse will go into effect January 6, 2020 and that within 60 days, the FMCSA administrator must submit a status report to Congress the Clearinghouse status.
The Act mandates HHS to update Congress on implementing the process of publishing hair testing guidelines for DOT-mandated testing within 60 days of enactment of the Act, and every 180 days until guidelines are published. Until guidelines published, hair testing is not allowed for DOT-tests.
#4 Minimum Wage
With the new minimum wage raising, the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) is telling truckers to be mindful of the new requirements that have taken place in many states in 2019. The legal counsel from TCA states, “Employers with operations in different states must take care to monitor these various state law requirements, and when they change. This is significant for the trucking industry because carriers are often targeted with wage and hour lawsuits brought by drivers and other employees.”
#5 DOT Hair Testing
A recent legislative package that was signed into law is holding the Department of Health and Human Services responsible for finishing the hair testing guidelines that were due by December 2016. These guidelines are the first step in making hair follicle drug testing a DOT-approved drug testing method. Although many trucking companies already use hair testing as part of their pre-hire process, urine must still be collected for all DOT-regulated tests.
#6 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 March 2016, FMCSA and FRA published their proposed rule for Sleep Apnea. NTSB recommended a higher degree of sleep apnea testing. However, there was lots of industry push-back.
#7 Speed Limiter Rule
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and FMCSA in August 2016 issued a rule regarding speed limiters for commercial trucks. The rule was to require that all commercial trucks have a speed limiter device. Even though the rule has been outlined, but the top speed has not been decided on. The following speeds have, however, been discussed – 60, 65, and 68.
#8 CME Registry Hack
Back in December 2017, the CME Registry was hacked. Since then, they have been trying to fix the website. The ability to search for examiners was restored first. Then the ability to add new examiners was created in a new process. The examiner portal is partially restored and examiners and MEAA can upload determinations, though glitches still exist in the system. Expect more updates as they push to fully restore the CME Registration website.
#9 Minimum Wage
With the new minimum wage raising, the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) is telling truckers to be mindful of the new requirements that have taken place in many states in 2019. The legal counsel from TCA states, “Employers with operations in different states must take care to monitor these various state law requirements, and when they change.