FMCSA Regulatory Update
The FMCSA continues to have their hands full as they juggle several major issues that will have a significant impact on the trucking industry in the weeks, months, and years ahead.
Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA), the FMCSA’s newest safety measurement program, was officially launched late in 2010. Carriers’ CSA scores are now being monitored for safety compliance.
As the first step in the intervention and enforcement process, the FMCSA has begun sending out warning letters to carriers it has identified as needing to improve safety performance in one or more of the BASIC categories that CSA tracks. The warning letter provides instructions for accessing motor carrier safety data in the Safety Measurement System (SMS). The FMCSA has provided a Factsheet, which includes a sample warning letter and FAQs, as well as a “Tip- sheet” about how to respond to a warning letter online. Carriers can use these documents to more effectively resolve FMCSA concerns and prevent escalated enforcement, such as an on-site compliance review.
Hours of Service: Friday, March 4 was the last day for stakeholders to comment on the FMCSA’s new Hours of Service (HOS) proposal. Since the proposed rule was announced in late December, the industry has mobilized to fight against the change and defend the current HOS rules. Many argue that the proposed rule rivals the U.S. tax code in complexity. To gather further industry input, the FMCSA hosted a listening session on Feb. 17th. Within days of the listening session, the FMCSA indicated their preference to reduce the number of hours a driver can legally drive per day from eleven to ten. Since 2004, the HOS rules have been the center of ongoing legal battles. Regardless of what the FMCSA’s final rule looks like, the legal battles will surely continue. We should know soon since, under a settlement agreement reached in October 2009, a final rule would be published by July 26, 2011.
Electronic Onboard Recorders (EOBRs): While busy with CSA and the HOS debate, the FMCSA in late January also proposed a rule that greatly expands the current rule put out less than a year ago. The newly proposed rule, which will go into effect three years after it is made final, would require all interstate commercial truck and bus companies to install EOBRs to systematically monitor their drivers’ HOS compliance.
The rule would apply to all carriers now required to maintain driver logs, which affects approximately 500,000 interstate carriers. Violators of the EOBR requirement would face penalties of up to $11,000 per offense and impact the carrier’s CSA rating and DOT operating authority.
The FMCSA has extended the comment period on this proposal until May 23, 2011. The FMCSA will consider all comments and material received during the comment period and may change this proposal based on those comments. The rule will likely be published prior to the June 2012 compliance date for the current EOBR rule. It will enforce the current rule during the period between the 2012 compliance date and the compliance date of the new rule.
Fuel: As if these safety and regulatory concerns weren't enough for the trucking industry, the rising price of fuel is having an impact that is putting carriers at risk – even as the nation slowly begins to roll to an economic recovery. In the wake of escalating unrest in the Middle East, diesel prices have continued to skyrocket in all regions of the U.S. Fuel is a significant expense for trucking companies that is often felt twice - first by increasing their operating costs and then by reducing freight volumes as consumers spend more on energy and are forced to reduce their spending on other consumer goods.
The U.S. Department of Energy Information Administration (EIA) tracks diesel prices and provides complete diesel price information on the EIA website. The national average price of on-highway diesel is currently at its highest level since early October 2008. Since the end of September, diesel prices have surged more than 76 cents — or 26 percent — and have declined in only three of 22 weeks.
Driving Ambition is a premier CDL truck driver staffing company serving Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Since 2001, we have specialized in matching safe, experienced CDL drivers for our customers and great job opportunities for our professional truck drivers.
Our commitment to safety and building solid working relationships with both customers and CDL drivers has allowed us to earn an unparalleled reputation with our Proven Drivers and Exceptional Service.