PEORIA, Ill. — Dan Meyer is no stranger to his audience. The Illinois division administrator for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has spoken to the truckers, owner/operators and truck company owners at the Mid-West Truck and Trailer Show in the past.
Meyer brought news and updates on different issues and programs that FMCSA is working on to ease driver shortages, hours of service issues, and maintaining and increasing safety for truck drivers and other travelers.
“We’ve been working to reduce the regulatory burden on the industry and we’ve been successful in some of that effort. As we continue to do that work, FMCSA is developing more efficient and effective rules to promote safety and reduce costs,” Meyer said.
On Dec. 16, 2019, the use of electronic logging devices, became mandatory in the U.S. With that, automatic on-board recording devices that were temporarily grandfathered into the rule are no longer allowed in place of ELDs.
Meyer said the mandatory ELD rule has shown positive results and thanked the trucking industry for cooperation.
“Since the out-of-service criteria put the lack of an ELD or a grandfathered AOBRD as an out-of-service criteria, less than 1%, only 42,000 of the over 5 million inspections conducted since the out-of-service criteria went into effect, have resulted in a driver being cited for operating without the required ELD or grandfathered AOBRD,” Meyer said.
Meyer said the transition to ELDs also has shown results in other areas.
“Over the last year, our hours-of-service violations have decreased by 52%, as well, so it’s reducing the number of violations we’re finding roadside,” Meyer said.
Drug And Alcohol Clearinghouse
The Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse had some technical glitches in its initial phases but is up and running, Meyer said.
The clearinghouse is an online registry where drivers register any drug or alcohol violations and where employers and others can check to see if drivers are in violation. Meyer offered tips to those trying to set up new accounts to make sure they have an updated email address, phone number and mailing address so they can receive information from the clearinghouse.
“The clearinghouse rule does require that carriers query all new drivers and do an annual query on all existing drivers so you are going to have to do that going forward,” Meyer said.
Hours Of Service
Along with the move to ELDs, Meyer said FMCSA also received feedback about the current hours of service.
“We put forward a proposal. We are evaluating those comments right now. We received over 3,000 comments to the rule that was proposed,” Meyer said.
The rule that FMCSA put forth includes changes to the short-haul exemption by lengthening the maximum on-duty time to 14 hours and the distance from 100 to 150 air miles; extension of the adverse driving conditions exception by two hours; increasing flexibility for the 30-minute break; modifying the sleeper berth exception to allow drivers to split the 10 hours off duty time into two periods; allowing drivers to pause their 14-hour drive time window with a break of at least 30 minutes but not more than three hours.
Entry-Level Driver Training
FMCSA is delaying the rule that will require any new CDL holders to have entry-level training before they can take the road test required to obtain a commercial driver’s license. The delay pushes the rule back to Feb. 7, 2022, Meyer said.
“The extension is reflective of our efforts to develop and secure an effective website and training registry for the rule. It will work like the medical registry, where the companies will certify themselves and they will have to enter their information on the training registry, then the candidates will select a trainer from that registry,” Meyer said.
Military Pilot Project
A program announced in 2018 could offer some hope to the industry that is struggling to find drivers.
FMCSA is in the midst of a three-year pilot program to allow 18-, 19-, and 20-year-old military veterans who have the military equivalent of a CDL to operate trucks in interstate commerce.
“Those participating in the program must have the training and experience from one of the seven military occupational specialties, or MOSs, and must be sponsored by a participating trucking company,” Meyer said.