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Keep Your Eye on the Ball

Posted By John Hausladen, Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Updated: Friday, July 11, 2014
Whether you enjoy golf, softball or soccer, the key to success is keeping your eye on the ball. You can’t make contact if you don’t know where the ball is. And you can’t play it if you don’t anticipate where it is going to land. The same is true with trucking regulations. You have to know the status of a regulation to determine how to get ready or comply. Here is a quick summary of the key regulations facing our industry compiled from American Trucking Associations (ATA) sources.

Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA): In March, the Department of Transportation’s Inspector General issued the results of its CSA audit focused on data quality and enforcement effectiveness. The report found serious data quality and sufficiency concerns as well as enforcement shortcomings highlighted by the fact that 40 states and the District of Columbia have yet to begin employing the full suite of targeted interventions touted as a primary benefit of CSA. Finally, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has indicated that it is on the verge of releasing the results of its study of how the weighting of crashes based on fault or preventability would produce more accurate and reliable scores.

Certified Medical Examiners and Med Cards: FMCSA remains confident there will be adequate numbers of certified Medical Examiners to handle demand following the May 21 deadline after which drivers will be restricted to choosing a Medical Examiner from a list of those approved by FMCSA. ATA has communicated with FMCSA and is skeptical that enough examiners will be available, especially in rural, traditionally underserved areas. As the deadline nears, ATA will likely call on FMCSA to delay the May 21 deadline until adequate coverage has been achieved.

Hours-of-Service (HOS): In January, FMCSA published its congressionally mandated 34-hour restart field study. The study found that drivers whose 34-hr restarts include two periods of time between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. have marginally better reaction times than those whose restarts do not. ATA expressed serious concerns about the validity of the study citing the small sample size (106 drivers) and disregard for the effects of the 168 hour restriction, among others.

Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs): In mid-March FMCSA issued a Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (SNPRM) to mandate ELD use by all drivers required to maintain a paper log. The proposal also suggests limits on the number and type of supporting documents fleets should have to retain in order to verify log entries, as well as proposing ELD design and performance specifications. ATA expects that, at the earliest, FMCSA will issue a final rule in the spring of 2015 with an adoption deadline two years later. Under the proposal, fleets would be permitted to use existing devices until two years after the adoption deadline (grandfather provision).

Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse: FMCSA published a proposed rule in mid-February to establish a drug and alcohol clearinghouse, a move applauded by ATA. However, ATA has some concerns with the proposal and will offer suggestions for improvement in the form of written comments to FMCSA.

Hair Testing: In October 2013, members of Congress introduced legislation that would require DOT to allow hair testing as an acceptable alternative to urinalysis for certain categories of tests (e.g., pre-employment).

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA): FMCSA has not yet signaled its intention to initiate a rulemaking on sleep apnea, but has instead said that the agency is still in the process of gathering data and analysis on the condition.

Here’s wishing you a summer of hitting and chasing balls of all sorts to your heart’s content. After the long winter we endured, you deserve it!

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