Whatever the political headlines of the day, federal agencies continue to add new trucking regulations, adopt new forms, and extend or discontinue previous waivers and exemptions. In this series, “Trucking Things to Know Now,” PrePass provides quick updates on regulatory developments, often with links to more information.
Keep Those Rear Underride Guard Labels On
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has denied a Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) petition for a rulemaking that would have allowed the removal of certification labels on rear underride guards. CVSA claimed that the labels, intended to demonstrate that the rear impact guard complied with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 223, could “wear, fade or [be] removed during repair” and could result in confusion and inconsistent enforcement. NHTSA responded that FMVSS 223 requires permanent labeling to deter the introduction of non-compliant guards and to assist an investigation if a safety defect is discovered in one brand of guard. Although NHTSA did not mention it in its response to this petition, new rules in development for side underride guards on trailers and semitrailers, and for rear impact guards on single-unit trucks, may have caused NHTSA concern about the potential introduction of non-compliant equipment.
Marijuana Leads to Spike in Truck Driver Positive Drug Tests
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse reported a 32% increase in positive truck driver tests for marijuana in 2022 compared to the year before. The expanding legalization of recreational marijuana, combined with the absence of a field sobriety test for cannabis use, has the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommending a warning label be added to cannabis products. The NTSB also states that marijuana and its derivatives, including CBD, remain ill-advised for truck drivers and other DOT-regulated workers, can impair safe driving, and result in drug test violations. The Food and Drug Administration does not evaluate THC levels in widely-advertised CBD gummies, as one example, and can trigger a drug test violation. The U.S. Transportation Department drug test panel covers 14 substances, with marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamines, and amphetamines accounting for 90% of positive tests. The Department of Health and Human Services, which sets the standards for federal drug tests, is considering adding fentanyl to the drug testing panel.
Is Your Medical Examiner “Refreshed”?
By regulation, a medical examiner listed on FMCSA National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners must physically examine truck drivers for official documentation. But in December 2017, an attempted computer hack of the registry led to an outage through August 2018 and a subsequent four-year rebuild of the system. During much of that time, medical examiners could not upload all examination results… or update their medical qualifications, such as completing the mandatory five-year refresher training. Now FMCSA has alerted all medical examiners that the five-year refresher training is again available and has reminded them that they must also be tested for recertification every ten years. Refreshed and retested means renewed confidence in the National Registry.
Read the previous installments of “Trucking Things to Know Now: Federal Regulatory Updates.”
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