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How New Regulations Will Change Trucking in 2017

By admin on March 6, 2017

There’s no doubt that new government regulations are pushing the trucking industry through a major shift. You’ve probably heard of the ELD mandate, which went into effect less than three months ago, and catapults the industry into a very different regulatory landscape. With the ELD mandate and other widespread regulations, 2017 is going to be an unprecedented year for the trucking industry.
 

Electronic Logging Devices

There is a lot of buzz going around the trucking industry about the newly-implemented Electronic Log Device (ELD) mandate. The mandate was first published by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in December of 2015, and goes into effect December of 2017.

Proposed hours-of-service rules, limiting drivers to 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days, can easily be tracked through ELDs. The looming regulation has left many drivers worried that the ELD will serve as a “big brother” entity over their driving. Realistically, though, the ELD does nothing more than keep accurate records. The device connects to a truck’s engine to record information, but the ELD does not and cannot automatically transmit data to any outside entities. In the event of a roadside inspection, drivers are required to electronically transfer their HOS records for the last 8 days (including the current day) to the roadside inspector. There are several methods to transfer records, including online, email, USB connection, and Bluetooth connection.

The ELD mandate brings the transportation business into the 21st century, and helps drivers cut down on deadhead miles, as well as assists in keeping accurate records. The ELD simplifies compliance by eliminating long-term paper logs, and in doing so results in a significant cut-back in the most common violations, since drivers will always have an accurate and up-to-date log on file. With electronic transfer capabilities, inspections go significantly faster and easier, meaning drivers lose out on less time while stopped. And ELDs even store additional useful information, such as location, speed, and engine date, which helps both carriers and their drivers in legal litigation.
 

Greenhouse Gas Rules

While important, the ELD mandate is far from the only regulation that will affect the trucking industry in 2017. In August of 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued three phases of new greenhouse gas standards to ensure that manufacturers will reduce carbon emissions.

Trucks Fueling At Gas Station Just Off Highway“Phase 2 includes technology-advancing, performance-based standards that will phase in over the long-term, with initial standards for most vehicles and engines commencing in model year 2021, increasing in stringency in model year 2024, and culminating in model year 2027 standards,” says the EPA memo.

Carriers and owner operators can expect a temporary cost-hike in tractors and trailers, as manufacturers work to meet the new standards set by the EPA and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The EPA, however, explains that companies can recoup the extra expense with fuels savings within two years. Trucking companies should make plans to track fuel savings, ensuring they’ll recover their costs and capitalize on the benefits for operations by the two-year mark.
 

Entry Level Driver Training Rules

In addition to the ELD mandate and gas emission regulations, driver training will take a turn in 2017. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FCMSA) has proposed an increase in training for truck drivers, even amidst the national driver shortage.

Implementation and compliance of the proposed FMCSA rule could cost up to $5.6 billion over the course of a ten-year period, including expenses such as tuition and compliance audits, experts say. The FMCSA could require In-house training programs, but they do not outline the details of such requirements.

Several groups recently have petitioned the FCMSA to reconsider provisions of the new requirements, which the agency issued on Dec. 7 of 2016. The final rule does not include a requirement for 30 hours of behind-the-wheel training for new drivers. Earlier last year, FCMSA had proposed a minimum of 10 hours of training on a “driving range” as well as an unspecified amount of time driving on a public road. The final rule also does not require a behind-the-wheel standard for student drivers. Instead, it points them to a skills tests administered by state licensing agencies.

The petition to reconsider was filed by Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, the Truck Safety Coalition and Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways on Dec. 21, 2016.

“The performance standard in the Final Rule does not ensure that CDL applicants who can pass the state CDL skills test will spend any time actually operating a CMV on public roads with an experienced instructor encountering safety critical situations,” the petition says. Representatives from independent contractor defense services, such as OOIDA, are concerned that other professions require time to practice on-the-job before being given a license, but that CDL applicants are not provided with the same opportunities.

For more information on the regulations that will be making waves in 2017, contact us today! We have many solutions in the pipeline, from an ELD device to owner operator training. Reach out to us at (317) 972-1120 for more information.

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