Cover Story
Regulatory roadmap
Big ticket regulatory items will be on the move in 2015

By Jami Jones, managing editor

On the regulatory front, 2015 promises to be a busy year. While only two final rules are planned at this point, electronic logging devices and the drug and alcohol clearinghouse, there are plenty of other key rulemakings in the works that need to be on truckers’ radar.

Electronic logging devices
Status: Waiting on final rule

In spite of what some have led many in the industry to believe, the electronic log mandate didn’t happen at the first of the year. FMCSA’s plan is to get the ball rolling in May and send the final rule to the Secretary of Transportation for approval. The agency plans not only an across-the-board mandate, the rule will also set performance and technical standards on the devices, alter the supporting documents requirement and address concerns about harassment in the final rule.

At this point, the agency doesn’t anticipate publishing the final rule before the end of September.

OOIDA’s long-standing position is in opposition to any mandate. The Association got the last attempt at a mandate tossed out by a court of appeals. What’s in store for any other mandates FMCSA moves forward on? Stay tuned.

Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse
Status: Waiting on final rule

This is the second of two final rules FMCSA has plans to implement in 2015. The agency is planning to create a database of verified positive drug and alcohol test results and refusals to test. The agency is also seeking to mandate that prospective employers, with an applicant’s written consent, access the system to see if it has any info on that driver’s drug and alcohol testing before hiring or allowing that applicant to drive a truck.

The Association has been wary of the privacy of drivers as well as data accuracy concerns (think CSA). No hint at this point as to what the agency has done to ensure either of those things will be protected.

The plan is for the final rule to go to the Secretary of Transportation in May for approval and then for the final rule to publish in late October.

Heavy vehicle speed limiters
Status: Notice of proposed rulemaking

This is a joint rulemaking between FMCSA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It’s in response to petitions from the American Trucking Associations and Road Safe America.

The agencies are planning to propose the required installation of speed limiting devices on heavy trucks. The wrinkle here is that NHTSA can mandate them on newly constructed trucks. FMCSA’s authority would kick in on possibly limiting the use of non-speed limited trucks in interstate commerce. But that won’t be known until the proposal is published in the Federal Register.

It pretty much goes without saying, but OOIDA opposes any such mandate.

This one was supposedly on the move at press time, with the agencies having planned to submit it to the Secretary of Transportation in mid-January. The expectation is to have the proposal published in mid-April.

Qualifications of Drivers; Diabetes Standard
Status: Notice of proposed rulemaking

Unlike other agency actions that we’ll detail later, this rulemaking has been on the regulatory equivalent of a slow boat from China. For nearly 10 years the agency has failed to move forward on a mandate in SAFETEA-LU, the 2005 version of the highway funding legislation, which directed the agency to allow drivers with controlled insulin-dependent diabetes to drive without seeking an exemption.

OOIDA supports eliminating the restriction on drivers who have their insulin-treated diabetes under control.

Originally planned, the proposal was supposed to go to the Secretary of Transportation for approval in July 2010. The agency has since planned to submit it in early January.

That stage doesn’t have a public bread crumb to follow, so we’ll just have to wait and see if it continues on the move going to the Office of Management and Budget in February. If the plan holds together, we could see a proposal published in May.

Carrier Safety Fitness Determination
Status: Notice of proposed rulemaking

Given the documented problems, mounting opposition from the industry and Congress along with the general distrust in Compliance, Safety, Accountability, this proposal probably will not receive overwhelming support.

FMCSA plans to propose to determine if a motor carrier is safe enough to operate in interstate commerce based on data and compliance rankings in five categories or BASICS, in CSA. This will be an addition to using investigations and a combination of on-road data and investigations to determine the same thing.

The potentially proposed automated process of determining a carrier’s safety fitness through CSA is of grave concern to OOIDA.

The program, in the Association’s position, is broken. Further penalizing drivers until CSA is remedied or removed would be a horrible mistake.

The agency plans to send a proposal to the Secretary of Transportation for approval in early January, as of press time. If all goes as planned, the proposal would be published in mid-June.

Application by Mexico-domiciled Motor Carriers to Operate Beyond Commercial Zones
Status: Undetermined

Plant this one on the radar for things to come. The FMCSA is planning on changing the regulations that govern applications by Mexico-based motor carriers to operate beyond the commercial zone – allowing them to operate long-haul in the U.S.

This “undetermined” rulemaking has been on FMCSA’s report on significant rulemakings for a very long time, but hasn’t gone anywhere. FMCSA originally planned to publish a final rule by Nov. 20, 2003. Given recent events (see Page 28), one could easily anticipate action on this front at some point this year.

Safety Monitoring Systems for Mexico-Domiciled Motor Carriers Operating in the U.S.
Status: Undetermined

Working hand-in-hand with the previous “undetermined” rulemaking, this has been on FMCSA’s list of upcoming regs for some time.

The agency plans to evaluate the continuing safety fitness of all Mexico-domiciled carriers within 18 months after receiving a provisional Certificate of Registration or provisional authority to operate in the United States.

FMCSA originally planned to publish a final rule by Nov. 28, 2003. Like the authority rulemaking, FMCSA will determine the next steps to be taken after the pilot program on the long-haul trucking provisions of NAFTA is completed. LL