Seven potential trucking regulations would transform trucking, reported Warren Hoemann, former deputy administrator at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), in a recent PrePass webinar titled, “7 Trucking Regulations that Will Change Your World.”

Hoemann grouped proposed regulation changes into three broad categories. Those that affect:

  • Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMVs),
  • CMV drivers, and
  • Motor carriers.

But no matter which bucket a regulation falls into, Hoemann said “every rule imposes costs and requires time and attention for compliance. These costs, time, and attention flow uphill to the trucking company, including owner-operators, and even company drivers.”

No. 1: AEB and ADAS

Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) and Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) are already available on newer model trucks. But Congress has directed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and FMCSA to open a rulemaking to mandate AEB.

“We can expect a proposal yet this year,” said Hoemann. “In the Unified Regulatory Agenda, NHTSA said it expected to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on AEB this April, with FMCSA following with a proposal regarding AEB system maintenance on CMVs. We are watching the Federal Register for these publications.”

ADAS includes adaptive cruise control systems, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot warning, camera-based mirror systems, and other features. Though industry associations, FMCSA, and NHTSA encourage voluntary ADAS adoption, Hoemann predicted FMCSA will make some ADAS technologies mandatory.

No. 2: Speed Limiters

FMCSA recently published a Notice of Intent to reopen the 2016 rulemaking on speed limiters and aims to have a Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking ready for review and public comment in early 2023.

“The question raised by many drivers is whether they can override mandated speed limiters in merging and passing situations,” said Hoemann.

As drivers express these concerns, highway designers and safety advocates dream of a different reality. One where intelligent roads talk to vehicles which automatically adjust their speed  to new speed limits.

Employing speed limiters that drivers can override temporarily might meet everyone’s needs, Hoemann said. A beep, similar to a seatbelt warning, could sound and the system would record the action for review by management and law enforcement.

No. 3: Underride Guards

Most truck trailers have rear underride guards. But now Congress is studying side underride guards. “In the next two years, we may see underride guards proposed as mandatory on straight trucks,” he said.

This proposal has received flak from trailer manufacturers. They ask how can they build side underride guards for flatbed trailers designed to flex under load? What about tankers and other trailers with pipes and valves underneath?

They also have expressed weight concerns. One manufacturer of underride guards has said its products already add 400 to 800 pounds. “Adding side underride guards will decrease the maximum payload of the truck combination and harm fuel efficiency,” Hoemann added.

No. 4: UID

A Universal Identifier Device (UID) is an electronic device capable of communicating a unique CMV identification number. Roadside assistance could query a UID to identify the truck and trailer. To make it universal, Hoemann said regulators may mandate UID installation on every CMV. Another option being considered would require manufacturers to install the device on new trucks only.

Proponents promote UIDs as “electronic license plates,” while others question whether the “UID is a gateway to the Level VIII ‘Wireless Roadside Inspection.’” he said. “Would the UID device communicate with the trucks’ own electronics and report problems detected by sensors? Would the data also include hours of service (HOS) status, routes traveled, and even speed violations?”

He added, “Even if regulations protect personally identifiable  information, a UID may expose commercial drivers to legal due process issues.”

No. 5: Detention and Delay at Shipper and Receiver Facilities

Federal regulation of detention and delay at shipper and receiver facilities may be on the way, but it will come with complications, according to Hoemann.

He cited three reasons:

  1. FMCSA lacks broad jurisdiction over shippers and receivers.
  2. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) are not enforceable on private property.
  3. If one late truck can affect every freight pickup or delivery window, how can FMCSA hold shippers liable?

However, FMCSA has jurisdiction over shippers and receivers when these entities are coercing, forcing, or requiring truck drivers to violate HOS. Hoemann said FMCSA may expand this definition to include a pattern of HOS violations linked to a shipper or receiver facility, showing coercion, force, or gross negligence by the shipper/receiver as the underlying cause.

No. 6: Truck Parking

Though the infrastructure bill did not designate dollars for truck parking, it remains an eligible expenditure in several infrastructure categories, said Hoemann.

“Major trucking associations have urged Transportation Secretary Buttigieg to promote truck parking as states and localities spend those federal dollars,” he said. “Indeed, building more truck parking is the long-term solution, but it takes time.”

In the near term, motor carriers must partner “with shippers, receivers and other property owners to secure parking that is convenient, safe and legal,” he said. “Customers using the PrePass App already receive alerts about available truck parking.”

Is there a truck parking regulation in our future? No, Hoemann said, but shippers and receivers might soften their opposition to an FMCSA investigations of detention and delay at their facilities if they could be exempted by providing truck parking.

No. 7: CSA Reform

FMCSA’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program evaluates the safety fitness of motor carriers against seven Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories. But these categories do not address the likelihood of truck-involved crashes.

To counter this, the National Academy of Sciences recommended that FMCSA utilize Item Response Theory to make safety evaluations more statistically valid. IRT is a data-intensive approach to safety, where FMSCA gains access to carrier data the trucking industry considers proprietary.

Concerns over IRT data sharing stalled CSA reform for two years. Now it’s back on the agenda. But instead of using proprietary data, FMCSA proposes reviewing publicly available records to screen carriers for further review and avoid using proprietary data.

FMCSA’s proposal also will allow fleets to submit IRT data voluntarily and open CSA scores to public scrutiny, he adds.

Hoemann put the likelihood of most regulations coming to fruition at over 50%. But he stressed, while the “wind is definitely blowing toward more regulations,” continued supply chain crises and Washington politics may cause the winds of change to blow in another direction.

For more details, watch the full webinar, “7 Trucking Regulations That Will Change Your World.”