Truck Safety Act
On July 10, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced the Truck Safety Act, which calls for several changes to help make the nation’s roads safer. Major provisions of the proposed act would include increasing minimum insurance levels for carriers, mandate speed limiters and collision avoidance systems, and create a study to look at commute times for drivers to and from work.
The proposed act would boost the minimum amount of insurance that trucking companies must carry to $1.5 million from the current $750,000. It would also ensure that insurance levels would keep pace with inflation. The act would also mandate accident avoidance systems to warn drivers if they are about to drift from their lane or be involved in a front-end collision. Devices to limit a big rig’s speed would also be mandatory.
In addition, the act would require that a study be performed on the potentially dangerous effects of excessive commuting. Many truck drivers have to commute several hours on a regular basis to and from their homes, and there are concerns those commutes could pose a safety risk.
Electronic Logging Devices
On July 30, the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration sent a rule to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) mandating the use of electronic logging devices (ELDs) in big rigs. The OMB either has 90 days to approve the ruling or send it back to be changed. If approved, the rule will go into effect two years after the date it is published in the Federal Register.
All drivers who are now required to keep paper records of their time spent behind the wheel (eight days or more out of every 30 days) would be required to use an ELD instead. The new rule will also include provisions to stop efforts of carriers to force drivers to drive beyond their service limits. It would impose a penalty of up to $11,000 per violation and could potentially result in the revocation of a carrier’s right to operate.
There will be several potential ramifications for the trucking industry, of course, if this rule is approved. One of the biggest is the possibility that, eventually, ELDs will make it easier to mandate that drivers do not operate their rigs for more than 40 hours a week, and that all drivers be paid hourly.