For fleet owners, the rules waiting to take effect can be confusing and costly. Here are a few of the most notable.
The first of the federal changes will be the electronic on board recorder requirement that is due to take effect in September of this year. In the beginning of the year, it was projected that the publication date would be November 2015, but in March, the FMCSA confirmed that the mandate would take effect two months earlier. This mandate will require all commercial drivers currently utilizing paper logs to begin using electronic on board recorders by September of 2017. This mandate is going to require owner-operators and carriers alike to purchase upgraded logging equipment to track the driver’s time, not only when the driver is behind the wheel, but also working time, rests, and restarts. The measurements and entries behind electronic logs are similar to paper ones, but unlike paper logs, most electronic recorders are connected to the telematics of the tractor, making “fudging” logs nearly impossible. This rule will not only cause the fleet to incur equipment; it will also require training for the driver to use the electronic logs, and that could mean time off the road.
The second mandate that has been in effect since 2011 has been the FSMA, Federal Safety Modernization Act, which will become enforceable in September of this year. In a nutshell, this mandate is based on prevention versus reaction to food industry contamination issues that may occur in food manufacturing facilities, central kitchens, distribution centers, food imports, and even transportation. The mandate for transportation providers will require carriers to have standard operating procedures in place when handling food products that fall under the ruling. These SOPs would need to include truck washing procedures, shipment transparency, and shipment telematics, as well as driver unloading practices.
In March of 2015, the Grow America Highway Bill was resubmitted to Congress. This bill is a six-year, $478 billion transportation reauthorization package. The bill primarily funds infrastructure but rolled into this bill is a measure of driver pay reform (Sec. 5507) that would mandate drivers are compensated for all on-duty hours spent not driving. Congress has until May 31 to pass the bill or come up with another way to support the Highway Trust fund. Should this legislation pass, this will be a game-changer when it comes to driver pay based on miles.
Another hot topic is the hours of service – restart rule reversal. The original hours of service mandate in 2013 had a portion of the ruling reversed after it was found that the driver restart rule had a negative impact on safety. At this time, the rule is on hold pending the results of another study. But it’s worth keeping an eye on in the next six months, just in case it is decided to implement the rule as written in 2013. And soon to come will be legislation on driver health and carrier insurance limits.
Running a fleet demands that you be in the know when it comes to upcoming legislation within the trucking industry. Transport Topics has a fantastic Website for keeping up to date. Another favorite of mine is Overdrive magazine’s Website. The articles are short, but they do provide links that give further information about legislation.
What is evident is that all of this will require more management and admin support, along with additional internal audits to ensure compliance with federal and state regulations. Discover how outsourcing your transportation through dedicated contract can help alleviate the burden.