Although FTR’s outlook for 2021 is bullish, Vise told American Trucker there are still looming risks of concern.
With the new year comes the second full year of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrations’ Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse, the national database of commercial driver substance violations created to remove loopholes that allowed violators to continue operating trucks. According to data from the first 10 months of its existence, thousands of fleets and owner-operators still need to register with the database or face non-compliance repercussions.
New federal hours of service (HOS) rules — designed to give commercial drivers more flexibility — take effect across the U.S. at 12:01 a.m. EDT on Tuesday, Sept. 29.
In just over a month — at 12:01 a.m. EDT on Tuesday, Sept. 29 — revised hours-of-service rules go into effect for commercial drivers across the country. The new rules create more flexibility for drivers while keeping a focus on highway safety, according to Joseph DeLorenzo, the acting associate administrator for enforcement at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
In my former life with the State of New Mexico’s Motor Transportation Police, I was always shocked by the number of commercial drivers who didn’t make time to do proper pre-trip inspections before getting on the road. Part of this oversight is an inherent trust drivers seem to have in their truck operating well on their last run or with the driver that drove the truck last. The other part was simple math – the less time spent outside of the truck, the more time on the road. Unfortunately, these pre- and post-trip inspections, also known as “kicking the tires,” is the easiest action operators and drivers can take to protect themselves and others.
Today’s transportation industry faces increasingly stringent regulatory standards. The highest-profile example is the looming electronic logging device (ELD) deadline; by December 16, 2019, all carriers subject to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s ELD mandate must be equipped with self-certified devices registered with the FMCSA. In addition to the sweeping ELD mandate, many fleets are or soon will be subject to a wide range of more specific regulations.
Truckers will have to have their rigs smog-checked and certified in order to operate legally in California under a bill signed into law by the state’s governor, Gavin Newsom.
The measure, Senate Bill 210, makes California the first state with a smog-check program for medium- and heavy-duty trucks. It provides the industry a few years of relief before the smog checks begin, though. The estimated startup date for an operational program is 2023.
These are questions that trucking companies hauling agricultural goods and commodities have long asked: what exactly counts as an agricultural commodity to be transporting where the driver is then exempted from the federal Hours of Service (HOS) regulations and by extension, having to use electronic logging devices (ELDs), and why are some agricultural goods left out? Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA) on Tuesday reintroduced the Agricultural Trucking Relief Act (H.R. 1673) to clarify the definition of “agricultural commodity” to include a broader range of agricultural products.