Regulatory reform is in the air where trucking is concerned. Earlier this month, the United States House and Senate passed a five-year FAST Act bill of over $3 billion in surface transportation funding, which President Obama is preparing to sign.
Ready for the highlights?
Most importantly, the bill called for inaccurate carrier scores to be removed from the public eye. The ranking and scoring produced by the Safety Measurement System under the Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) had yielded inaccurate results, due to faults in the program. Thanks to FAST Act, those errors will no longer be influencing public business decisions.
The bill also calls for more study; a report is due in 18 months. For example, FMCSA will have to examine the correlation of carrier crash risk to CSA scores, as well as CSA methodology and data accuracy. It will also have to look at how the public uses the scores.
Other changes include:
- Expanded drug testing options for drivers
- Study on the impacts of driver detention at shippers and receivers
- An additional step required before FMCSA can raise the amount of liability insurance that carriers are required to hold
- Better access to civilian trucking jobs for veterans
- Truckers under 21 who were members of the military to participate a controlled study of the benefits and safety impacts of letting younger drivers cross State lines
- More transparency in FMCSA rule-making
- Program fixes required before carrier scores can be made public again
How are trucking advocates responding?
For the most part, they’re supportive. For example, the American Trucking Association (ATA) is glad for a long-term highway bill. They’re also grateful for the expansion of drug testing and improved access of veterans to the industry.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association appreciated the collaboration between House and Senate. Other organizations, including the Alliance for Toll-Free Interstates, the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association, and the Truck Rental and Leasing Association (TRALA), also gave positive feedback.
As for critique? The ATA voiced a wish for more funding. Meanwhile, TRALA expressed disappointment that the bill doesn’t address meal and rest break requirements for interstate carriers operating in California.
On the road, safety is top priority. We’re in favor of any changes that keep drivers, moving companies and their customers happy and healthy. As always, please remember protect your shippers’ goods with third party moving insurance or full value protection insurance, and to make sure any cargo you ship is protected by solid logistics insurance.
Here’s wishing you a productive and profitable New Year!