Trucking Regulations 2021

Тhe trucking industry experiences changes over the years. Especially over the last 2020 pandemic year. As we already approached 2021 and with the possible end of the pandemic in sight as vaccines reach the market, trucking carriers could see a return to normal operations at some point. New trucking regulations are constantly being formed, and sometimes it is hard to keep up with all that is occurring. Now that 2020 has been laid to rest, what might be on tap for trucking in 2021?

Before we take a look at what 2021 may bring, let’s recap the 2020 HOS changes.

The 4 major changes in the 2020 hours of service reforms will affect the:

  • 30-minute rest break requirement
  • split-sleeper berth exception
  • short-haul exemption, and
  • adverse driving condition exemption

For more information, see the details of these rule changes.

Greenhouse gas standards

“The federal government is very likely to focus through modal agencies on pushing a green agenda,” said Rajkovacz. 

The trucking regulation is a comprehensive set of engine and vehicle standards jointly adopted by the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to promote the use of technology to reduce GHG emissions and improve vehicle fuel efficiency. These standards will affect manufacturing of trucks beginning in the model year of 2021, 2024 and 2027. There will be a cost-hike in tractors and trailers temporarily due to the new standards, however the EPA claims that the fuel savings within two years will cover the additional expenses. These regulations apply to both medium-duty vehicles and heavy-duty trucks.

Driver Drug Testing via hair sample

Launched on Jan. 6, 2020, FMCSA’s Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse was designed to improve visibility into truck driver drug and alcohol testing through a centralized, online database.This information will be accessible to the licensing agencies,carriers and FMCSA in order to track drivers who have failed a drug or alcohol test as well as those who have completed return-to-duty requirements following a failed test.

Not many companies carry field drug testing kits. The industry is seeking additional drug testing methods, like hair and oral saliva testing, that can be used to prevent unsafe drivers on the roads as these methods are harder to cheat and provide a more complete drug testing history.

Before the new hire driver can be tested, the employer needs to make sure the driver is registered to the FMCSA Clearinghouse, then request electronic driver consent to run a detailed query, run a query on the driver (employer or C/TPA), and ensure no recent negative drug testing history is present.

Carriers have until Jan. 5, 2021, to conduct a limited query for all drivers who were in a motor carrier’s Part 382 testing program as of Jan. 6, 2020. For drivers hired after Jan. 6, 2020, a fleet has until their hire date to run the limited query, but Kathy Close, transportation editor with J. J. Keller & Associates, said fleets don’t have to wait.

Minimum Insurance Requirement

Figures up to $5 million in insurance are under discussion, compared to the $750,000 currently required of interstate carriers of non-hazardous goods. Or about 6.5 times higher than today’s healthcare costs.The fallout from H.B. 3781 could include some truck drivers who are denied coverage and forced to retire as a result.The American Trucking Associations and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association both opposed that rulemaking.

California’s A.B. 5 law

Still pending from the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is a ruling in the California Trucking Association’s case against California’s A.B. 5 law, which took effect January 2020. This law was largely interpreted as blocking motor carriers from contracting loads to owner-operators or small fleets. This new law does not just apply to Uber and Lyft drivers or office workers brought on as independent contractors. It also drastically impacts the way the trucking industry in California operates. The 9th Circuit’s decision will either uphold or end a preliminary injunction issued by the U.S. District Court in Southern California, which ruled that trucking should remain exempt from the law (and thus retain the ability for carriers and owner-operators to work together) until CTA’s case can be adjudicated in full, which could ultimately mean a stop at the U.S. Supreme Court in the coming years.

Expect a 9th Circuit decision in the early months of 2021. CTA’s lawyers have said they’re prepared to see the case through to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Speed Limiters on Heavy Trucks

In June 2019, Senators revived a plan that would “require all new commercial trucks with a gross weight of 26,001 pounds or more to be equipped with speed-limiting devices, which must be set to a maximum speed of 65 miles per hour and be used at all times while in operation.”

Carriers and independent owner-operators will have to install aftermarket speed limiters on all trucks if the S. 2033 legislation passes the Senate in 2021.  Truck manufacturers will also have to add speed limiters as a standard piece of equipment, on all new trucks sold in the United States.
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