There are some big changes coming to the trucking industry in 2014. There are two pending safety proposals that should be going into effect during the early part of this year. This includes the near-universal use of electronic logs and a searchable database that will contain the results of driver drug and alcohol tests. Both of these rules are expected to be published into the Federal Register and then begin the required comment period. How will these new regulations affect the day-to-day operations of a trucking service and potentially change the job of a trucker?
New E-Logging Rules:
The electronic logging device used to be known as electronic onboard recorders. This rule will basically require that all truckers have these devices installed and working on their vehicles. It will also address device standards (to keep cheating and lying to a minimum) and driver harassment relative to the e-log use. One of the major goals of this rule is to help prevent the coercion of drivers to violate safety rules by carriers, shippers, receivers, or other intermediaries.
This proposal is something that we have been hearing about for years. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has been a long-time advocate for getting something like this in as many trucks as possible. Not only will there be communication standards set for the devices, but there will also be provisions against fleets using the devices to harass drivers. There are also going to be requirements for hours-of-service supporting documents.
Once this proposal posts in the Federal Register, there will be a comment period. This is expected to be 60 days, which should carry us into April. There are two pretty well-divided factions right now, with carrier interests like The Trucking Alliance and American Trucking Associations in favor of this. On the other hand, owner operators are not so positive on this change.
Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse:
The second new rule which we will see in the trucking industry in 2014 is a drug and alcohol clearinghouse. This will be a searchable national database that contains the results of driver drug and alcohol test results. This is a safety management tool that trucking companies have been wanting for a number of years. Employers will be required to report positive test results and refusals.
Prospective employers will also be able to query the database, with the applicant’s permission. The thought here is that it will ensure the applicant has completed the return-to-duty process and that carriers are doing the required testing. The bill also specifies that a third party contractor will maintain the database and there will be security protections in order to ensure privacy. Employers would be required to pay a small fee in order to use the system, while drivers will be able to access their own information free of charge.
Employers would also need to ensure a driver applicant has been tested within at least the past three years. If it was a positive result, the driver must have completed the required return-to-duty process. They would also need to check if the driver has refused a test and then continue to check the database at least once per year after hiring a driver.
The bottom line is that we will need to wait and see all the practical implications of these e-logging rules for truckers. Hopefully, they will improve conditions for both drivers and carriers.
Written by Janet Tiedtke of Taylor and Martin. Taylor & Martin auction company is here to provide you with auction services that are second to none.