The trucking industry is dynamic, complex, and ever-evolving. Running a successful fleet or owner-operator business requires understanding various trucking regulations and new trucking laws.
Staying on top of the following trucking regulation changes is essential for maintaining compliance and keeping trucks on the road. As TMS solutions advance, following new trucking regulations will be easier. How?
Shippers, too, need to understand a few things about the Department of Transportation trucking regulations, new federal trucking regulations to watch in 2022, and employment regulations for fleet managers and owners. Freight shippers can use this information to better inform operations and avoid risks, keeping everything standardized through an efficient operating procedure.
Trucking Regulations to Watch in 2022
ELDs and Waivers
Nearly four years later (In November 2021), the FMCSA announced one of the trucking regulation changes guaranteed for 2022. Any ELDs relying on 3G cellular connectivity will no longer comply with trucking regulations, as mobile service providers are rapidly shutting down 3G networks and upgrading to more advanced 5G.
Truck Emissions Evaluation
With shifting prioritization of climate policies and the EPA’s goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, there is ongoing pressure to reduce carbon emissions in heavy-duty trucking.
The first ruling from the EPA regarding truck emissions is expected in 2022 and will apply to heavy-duty vehicles starting in the model year 2027.
Additionally, conversations within the DOT and FMCSA indicate there may soon be new federal trucking regulations similar to the California Air Resources Board (CARB) mandate. Among these, several rules focus on improved fuel efficiency and zero-emissions technology. Some new restrictions may apply to vehicles already in service or require retro-fitting equipment and should be followed closely by all drivers and fleets.
Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) & Protection for Independent Contractors
A. The worker is free from control and direction in the performance of services.
B. The worker is performing work outside the usual course of business of the hiring company.
C. The worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business.
Further, the rise of courier services throughout the pandemic will be directly affected by changes to how independent operators work. And as pressure mounts, shippers need to reduce the burden on such workers. Using technology, such as a freight courier claims portal, can reduce the burden and keep couriers happy.
Lack of adequate truck parking is a significant issue across the U.S., made worse by many closed due to the pandemic. Adding to the problem:
- Cities like Philadelphia and Minneapolis issue city-wide bans on trucks parking on city streets.
- Ongoing lack of parking near ports, where drivers clear backlogs of container freight in major hubs like Los Angeles and Long Beach.
The ATA has been a vocal proponent of regulations to address the parking issue. In March 2021, the Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act was introduced. The bill proposes $755 million in funding over five years to address truck parking and includes grant programs to states, public agencies, metropolitan planning organizations, and private sector partnerships.
Truck parking is an issue of particular interest to fleet managers and their drivers. On average, many spend 56 minutes per day (a tenth of their total working hours) locating parking. The shortage of safe, legal parking impacts the fleet financially and impacts driver satisfaction.
Employment Regulations Fleets Need to Know
Immigration & Authorized Workers
Additionally, fleets should remain aware of any pandemic-related updates to immigration processes and hiring practices. This information is available on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website.
Meal & Rest Breaks
California law requires more breaks, more often, but with less flexibility. Drivers must have a 30-minute meal break for every five hours they work, plus an additional 10-minute rest break for every four hours of work. A 2021 Ninth Circuit court ruling declared that FMCSA rules preempted any state laws around breaks, so for now, California cannot enforce its stricter break schedule. It is unclear if the state will appeal to the Supreme Court on the matter, so this is another issue to watch closely.
Ban the Box & Disclosure of Criminal Convictions
“Ban the box,” or the Fair Chance Act, refers to the box on applications requiring job applications to disclose prior criminal convictions. The law technically prohibits employers from requesting or considering conviction history until a conditional job offer. The move is intended to push background checks later into the hiring process so employers consider a candidate’s qualifications before their criminal history. Currently, 15 states have laws that expand ban-the-box laws to private employers. Still, even in states without these laws, inquiring about criminal history and denying employment violates federal anti-discrimination laws.
Fleet managers should remember that background checks for reckless driving and drug and alcohol violations are still mandatory. They should be considered separately from other criminal convictions.
Hourly Versus Per-Mile Pay for Drivers
Figuring out the best way to approach payments has been a long-standing issue in trucking.
Under U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, the industry appears ready to embrace a change to its payment structures. According to Business Insider, “Only about one-fifth of drivers at U.S. ports operate as hourly employees, while most are independent contractors paid per load or per mile — meaning they often receive the same pay regardless of how long they wait outside ports or warehouses.”
Basic Trucking Regulations You Need to Know
Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Qualifications
Commercial Drivers Licenses (CDLs) are issued by state licensing agencies and have varying requirements by state. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has several criteria that apply nationally. To qualify for a CDL, applicants must:
- Be at least 18 years old to drive intrastate (within the state).
- Be at least 21 years old to drive across state lines or carry hazardous materials.
- Have a minimum of one to two years of driving experience.
- Have no active suspensions.
- Have a valid medical examiner’s certificate.
Additionally, as of February 7, 2022, the FMCSA requires Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) for all entry-level operators of commercial motor vehicles before they take state-administered CDL exams. This includes those seeking a Class A or Class B CDL, those seeking an upgrade to their CDL (such as Class B holders seeking a Class A CDL), or any additional endorsements (hazardous, passenger, or school bus). This new federal trucking regulation establishes baseline knowledge across state programs and standardizes nationwide training protocols.
Drug & Alcohol Testing
Fleet owners and employers of CDL drivers must follow DOT and FMCSA regulations regarding drug and alcohol testing rates. The 2021 rates were 50% for drug testing and 10% for alcohol testing. For a company employing 100 CDL drivers, this would amount to a minimum of 50 drug tests and 10 alcohol tests in the calendar year to stay compliant. Additionally, all fleet employers and drivers must utilize the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, a secure, online database of CDL holders’ drug and alcohol violations.
Hours of Service (HOS)
FMCSA hours of service (HOS) regulations help keep drivers and the public safe by reducing driver fatigue, limiting the number of consecutive hours CDL drivers can work, and mandating breaks and off-duty hours. In June 2020, the FMCSA revised several provisions to extend HOS and provide drivers with greater flexibility:
- Short-haul exception – expands work shifts to 14 hours and expands the exception to 150 air miles.
- Adverse driving conditions exception – extends driving through adverse conditions by up to two hours.
- Thirty-minute break requirement – requires drivers to take a 30-minute break after driving for more than eight hours (was previously required after eight hours on-duty) and allows on-duty/not-driving period to qualify as a break.
- Sleeper berth provision – drivers may spend at least seven hours in the berth and at least two outside the berth to fulfill their 10-hour minimum of time off duty.
The continued state of disruption due to additional COVID-19 variants might also affect HOS trucking regulations. In 2020, many states suspended certain HOS rules. While many have since reversed course, the risk of an additional suspension of the requirements could still occur. It’s all subject to the supply and demand of transportation and finding enough trucking capacity to maintain throughput.
Inspection, Repair, and Maintenance of Equipment
Shippers Need a Technology-Rich Solution to Stay in Compliance With Trucking Regulations of 2022
The biggest stories of early 2022 have centered mainly on higher fuel costs. The U.S. on-highway diesel fuel rates for mid-March are at least $1.17 higher than the same period in 2021, reports the Energy Information Agency (EIA).