In Roman mythology, Janus, the god of beginnings and doors, gave us the month of January. He is typically pictured as having two faces: one looking back and one looking forward. We’re following his lead, looking back at 2018 and forward to 2019 when it comes to trucking regulations and other industry issues.

2018: The trucking industry and commercial vehicle enforcement will remember a 2018 dominated by two acronyms: ELDs and CSA.

ELDs (Electronic Logging Devices) were actually mandated in 2017 – but full enforcement began April 1, 2018. The period of “soft” enforcement between December 2017 and April 2018, when no citations were issued against driver and carrier, was intended to allow the trucking industry and the enforcement community time to adjust. And it did succeed, at least in terms of a marked decline in “form and manner” hours-of-service (HOS) violations, meaning that ELDs were more reliable than paperwork.  PrePass followed the ELD transition closely, with a story in January, one in mid-March, a second story in March, and another in May.

ELDs also allowed the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to take a closer look at HOS procedures and the HOS rules themselves, now that the movement of the commercial vehicle was being electronically recorded. FMCSA to its credit recognized that drivers could be trapped at a shipper or receiver facility without sufficient HOS time to reach their next destination. FMCSA responded with new guidance about the availability of the “personal conveyance” mode, built into an ELD, to allow an off-duty driver to legally move the commercial motor vehicle (CMV) to the “nearest, safe” location to obtain the required rest. Because the trucking industry is nothing if not diverse, FMCSA came back with further guidance on how “personal conveyance” relates to commuting in a CMV, among other issues. Finally, FMCSA saw that the use of ELDs supported a look at incorporating more flexibility into the HOS rules. That development is ongoing. We do know that the AOBRD exemption is coming to an end in December and PrePass ELD could be a great alternative for fleets looking for a solution.

CSA (Compliance, Safety, Accountability) has been FMCSA’s hallmark safety analysis program for most of a decade. While industry and enforcement alike lauded CSA’s intention to reduce crashes, weaknesses in the program led Congress in 2015 to mandate studies by the U.S. Transportation Department’s  Inspector General and by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to improve the program. PrePass actively monitored those developments in our “Eyes on the Road” podcast in June, a story in early August, a whitepaper, plus a story in September, an October podcast and finally a story in November. The bottom line: everyone needs to learn a new acronym when it comes to CSA. It’s IRT, which stands for “Item Response Theory.”

2018 wasn’t only about ELDs and CSA. PrePass gave advice on truck parking, how to handle inaccurate citations, reducing tolling costs, new federal and state driving rules, and how to reduce truck-involved crashes.

Along to way PrePass kept readers abreast of the current administration’s efforts to reduce regulatory overload, particularly as it relates to military drivers, while offering a means for everyone to help save those caught in the net of human trafficking.

These are but a sampling of how PrePass kept industry and enforcement up to date on 2018 developments that impact their jobs and highway safety. To read the full slate of stories and listen to the podcasts, go to the PrePass blog.

2019: The god Janus also looked forward. To find out what may come in 2019, a good place to turn is the semiannual federal regulatory plan, under this administration called the “Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions.” Each federal agency is required to list both prospective regulatory actions and anticipated elimination of regulations that are ineffective, duplicative, and obsolete. Choose a department and agency, such as U.S. Transportation Department or FMCSA, from the drop-down list, to see what is planned.

We do know that in 2019 FMCSA will continue to examine changes to HOS, as well as further work on the revision of CSA and full-scale testing of an IRT model by spring. In 2018, FMCSA began the process of eliminating duplicative coursework for CDL drivers seeking to upgrade from Class B to Class A  – the 2019 federal regulatory plan shows that “deregulatory” effort continuing.

What may surprise federal legislators and the trucking industry is that despite a congressional directive for the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to report on its hair testing progress, the federal regulatory plan for HHS/SAMHSA shows no mention of hair testing. However, SAMHSA is in the final rulemaking stage on the use of oral fluid specimens in federal drug testing programs.

Finally, should the U.S., Mexico and Canada ratify the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), a trade agreement signed to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, also known as NAFTA, its provisions would allow the U.S. to potentially place a cap on the number of Mexican motor carriers operating cross-border into the United States.

It appears when it comes to either 2018 or 2019, Janus got an eyeful.

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