Truck Driver News - Trucking Regulations - 2023 Summary & What's to Come in 2024

TRUCKING REGULATIONS – 2023 SUMMARY & WHAT’S TO COME IN 2024

As 2023 comes to a close and we enter 2024, it’s crucial for commercial truck drivers to understand the evolving landscape of trucking regulations. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are shaping the industry with new trucking regulations. In this comprehensive article, we will delve into the key highlights of what to expect in 2024, focusing on trucking regulations that impact drivers.

Trucking Regulations in 2024: A Roadmap for Drivers

  1. Speed Limiters: One of the most discussed topics among trucking regulations is speed limiters. The FMCSA aims to address this issue in 2024 by proposing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). The proposed rule on speed limiters may set a maximum speed for trucks, potentially at 68 mph. However, the final decision on this aspect of trucking regulations will heavily depend on public comments. Furthermore, it’s important to note that the discussion about speed limiters may extend beyond 2024 and could reach into 2025.
  2. Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB): FMCSA and NHTSA are working together to finalize a rule on automatic emergency braking (AEB) standards for heavy vehicles weighing above 10,000 pounds. AEB aims to prevent major collisions, enhancing safety on the road. This significant aspect of trucking regulations is expected to become a standard safety feature in the industry. While initially a “hot button” issue, the regulatory landscape around AEB is expected to stabilize quickly.
  3. Side Underride Guards: The discussion surrounding side underride guards on truck trailers is a critical part of trucking regulations. NHTSA examined the cost-benefit ratio and found that implementing side underride guards might be costlier than the benefits they provide. This has led to debates and criticisms from safety advocates. In response, NHTSA may revisit this issue in 2024, possibly issuing a Supplemental Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) with revised cost-benefit estimates. Given the political and safety-related nature of this topic, a proposed rule might not be finalized until 2025.
  4. Hair Testing: The introduction of hair testing for drug and alcohol use among truck drivers is another crucial element of trucking regulations. However, this aspect of trucking regulations is awaiting technical standards from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Concerns about potential racial and ethnic bias in hair testing have been raised, but research has demonstrated the accuracy of this testing method. SAMHSA is expected to release some form of hair testing standards in 2024. However, the implementation of hair testing by FMCSA and other relevant agencies may not occur until 2025 due to potential concerns and the need for further evaluation.
  5. Unique Identification Devices (UIDs): The proposal for Unique Identification Devices (UIDs) that electronically transmit truck identification data is an essential aspect of trucking regulations. While the comment period for FMCSA’s Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) on UIDs ended in 2023, final decisions regarding the scope and privacy protection of UIDs are unlikely to be made in 2024. Concerns about broadcasting personally identifiable information (PII) as truck drivers operate their vehicles have led to resistance from a significant portion of the trucking industry. Consequently, the debate over UIDs is set to continue beyond 2024.

Trucking Regulations with Substantive Impact

  1. CSA Overhaul – Enhancing Safety: FMCSA’s overhaul of the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program, initiated in 2023, will continue to evolve in 2024. This comprehensive overhaul includes significant changes to the Safety Measurement System and a renaming of safety categories. Despite progress, a significant challenge lies in the lack of sufficient state funding and personnel, which may result in delays in improving the DataQs appeals process. However, the CSA program remains central to FMCSA’s mission and will continue to shape safety standards for the trucking industry.
  2. Amendments to CDL Requirements – Streamlining Training: In 2024, FMCSA plans to propose rule changes that would permit state driver licensing agencies to administer the Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) knowledge test before issuing a Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP). This rulemaking seeks to streamline the training process for new truck drivers, allowing for a more efficient and effective approach to CDL acquisition. It represents a positive step forward in ensuring that new entrants are well-prepared to navigate the complexities of the trucking industry safely.
  3. Broker Contract Provisions – Balancing Interests: FMCSA is actively responding to petitions from various industry groups regarding broker contract provisions that often waive carrier rights to review transaction records. An NPRM is expected to be published in late 2024, with the final rule likely to be implemented in 2025. The petitions, including one from the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), specifically call for brokers to automatically provide a copy of each transaction record within 48 hours of service completion. The outcome of this rulemaking will significantly impact the relationship between carriers and brokers in the industry.

Daily Regulatory Grind – Navigating the Routine:

  1. New Entrant Exams – Ensuring Proficiency Through: FMCSA is expected to introduce a requirement for new entrants to pass a proficiency test on applicable federal safety requirements before receiving operating authority. This initiative aims to ensure that new trucking companies have a strong understanding of safety regulations, enhancing overall safety within the industry.
  2. Third-Party CDL Testers – Setting Standards: In 2024, FMCSA plans to draft a rule that establishes minimum standards and safeguards for states that choose to allow CDL knowledge testing to be conducted by third-party entities. This move seeks to provide states with the flexibility to utilize third parties while maintaining the integrity and quality of CDL testing.
  3. Camera-Based Mirror Systems – Enhancing Visibility: NHTSA will propose a rulemaking standard in 2024 that requires all vehicle manufacturers to adopt camera-based mirror systems. This technology promises to enhance visibility, improve safety, and potentially reduce blind spots, making it a significant development in vehicle safety standards.
  4. Electronic Stability Control: Aiming for Stability With Trucking Regulations: FMCSA will mandate the installation and maintenance of electronic stability control systems, aligning with existing NHTSA standards. This move reflects the commitment of regulatory agencies to enhance vehicle stability, particularly for heavy trucks.

In Conclusion:

As we step into 2024, the trucking industry is poised for another year of regulatory evolution. While hot-button issues like speed limiters and hair testing continue to dominate discussions, more substantive rulemakings such as the CSA overhaul and amendments to CDL requirements will shape the industry’s safety landscape. Truck drivers must stay informed about these critical trucking regulations, participate in the public comment process, and be prepared for a year of challenges and opportunities. The road ahead may be uncertain, but adherence to these trucking regulations ensures a compliant and successful journey in the ever-evolving realm of trucking regulations.

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