The highway bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act also known as MAP-21, is a whopping 599 pages. It’s got everything from roads, bridges, transit and waterways. But what truckers want to know more about is how the bill will shape the future of trucking.
Here’s a primer on the top trucking-specific issues included in the bill:
EOBRs – Yep, they are in there. But, don’t think for a minute this bill did FMCSA any favors. The list of technical specs is long and complicated. So much so, current devices may very well not fully comply. Oh yeah, driver harassment is in there too. Guess they read the decision in OOIDA’s win over the first round of EOBRs. The agency has to ensure drivers can’t be harassed. Now just how to do it?
Broker bond – The days of bad brokers skating by with $10,000 bonds is close to over. Congress has upped the broker bond amount to $75,000. Read more about that here.
Crashworthiness standards – Thanks to Sarah Van Wasshnova’s fight, the DOT has to study the crashworthiness of heavy-duty trucks. Things to be considered? Roof strength, pillar strength, air bags, occupant protection standards as well as front and back wall standards.
Jason’s Law – Tireless advocate Hope Rivenburg’s efforts were rewarded with the inclusion of Jason’s Law in the highway bill. The provision makes safe parking for truckers a national priority – something Hope has been committed to after the senseless death of her trucker husband Jason. After being turned away from a receiver because he was too early, he was shot while parked in a dark gas station parking lot. He had $7 in his pocket.
Driver training – The 20-plus-year battle over mandatory driver training continues. Congress is once again mandating actual behind-the-wheel training administered by legitimate training providers. This was first mandated by Congress in 1991. Regulators went through the process and in 2004 issued a watered down rule that fell short of the mandate. OOIDA sued and won in 2006. FMCSA then did a notice of proposed rulemaking in ’07. Nothing more since then has been done. That could be why Congress is mandating it – again. A final rule is to be in place “not later than one year” after the highway bill is signed.
Truck size and weight – This pesky issue pops its head back up in the highway bill, in the form of a study, and a comprehensive study at that. The study is to include crash data, ability of the roads to handle different axle configurations, what freight diversions would occur, etc., etc.
HOS restart study – With the changes to the 34-hour restart provision requiring two overnight periods and limiting its use, the highway bill has ordered a study of the provision.
Drug and alcohol clearinghouse – Congress is mandating a database of positive test results be maintained by FMCSA. This isn’t anything new, really. FMCSA has a notice of proposed rulemaking in the process and it’s expected later this year. This provision sticks a deadline on the agency to complete the final rule within two years of the bill being signed into law.
Registration of motor carriers – If you’re starting up a new business, be prepared to know your stuff. FMCSA is directed to develop a proficiency test as part of the application process. Does that mean Jerry Moyes would have to take a test if he starts another mega carrier? That will be up to the agency to determine in the rulemaking process.
Reincarnated carriers – The bill is giving FMCSA a lot more power over the rogue agents who want to skirt safety regs and open up under new company names. The bill expands the reasons why motor carriers can be shut down. For example, not disclosing common members of management with other motor carriers with substandard safety compliance.
Rogue management – The corporate environment of any company is set with its leadership. The highway bill recognizes that and gives FMCSA the power to revoke a company’s authority if its officers show a pattern of avoiding compliance, masking or otherwise concealing noncompliance.
Medical certification – Remember all of the medical examiner registries, and the med cert change that has you going to the DMV with your card now? It’s all in the highway bill again. Guess Congress is trying to light a fire under FMCSA’s feet to get the comprehensive overhaul of the system done.
CDL notification system – Motor carriers (even owner-ops) are required to check CDL status annually. The highway bill presses the agency to move forward with a Driver Record Notification System. One less call to the DMV may be in your future.
Vehicle-to-vehicle communication – Congress wants to know the status of technology currently being studied that has cars and trucks talking to each other. There’s also technology being studied that has the vehicles talking to the infrastructure. Congress wants an update on that as well. On a side note, it’s rumored and hinted too by NHTSA that the agency may initiate a rulemaking sometime in late 2013 or 2014.
And just for fun – There’s a study on Asian carp mandated. Oh yeah, and a change to the Internal Revenue Code definition of roll-your-own cigarette machines.
Editor’s note: Land Line Magazine will continue coverage on MAP-21, giving you detailed information on many of the provisions included in it. Visit www.landlinemag.com for updates.