Staying compliant in the trucking industry can be a challenge for some carriers as regulations change. In late 2015, the Department of Transportation reached a pivotal turning point. As the new electronic logging device mandate was announced, trucking fleets spent 2016 preparing and beginning to integrate new technology to meet safety requirements. In 2017, fleets and carriers will accelerate their compliance plans, which is no easy feat. So many moving parts require knowledge, organization and preparation for the future, and for fleets and carriers, compliance is becoming an increasingly difficult challenge. To help, many are assigning one person – a Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) – to manage compliance for their trucking fleet using fleet management solutions.
What do they do?
CCOs are primarily responsible for managing and maintaining regulatory compliance issues within an organization. In the past, the title was primarily associated with the finance and health care industries, but now that trucking is taking an increased regulatory stance, CCOs are becoming more common. They’re also becoming more independent. As their responsibilities shift to take on the recent influx of safety legislature, they are no longer simply an offset of the legal department – they are vital in helping an organization stay safe and compliant.
Trucking CCOs in particular have a tough job from day one. In light of impending safety legislature, most fleets are in various stages of the transition period, be it researching providers, installing technology, training employees or awaiting what might come next. CCOs are responsible for ensuring all of these processes go according to plan and that each truck is always within the limits of the law. Today, many CCOs use telematics and GPS fleet management systems to automate the workload and ensure compliance. Emerging technology helps cover the manual tasks and frees up the CCO for more complex strategy decisions.
What do they need to know?
One of the primary and most helpful jobs of a trucking CCO is keeping track of all pending compliance legislature – and this year, there are many new rules to come. The ELD mandate was last year’s hottest topic of conversation. We are less than a year away from the mandate’s implementation in December 2017 and 81 percent of large fleets have already fully adopted the necessary technology. But as the final date nears, CCOs must ensure all trucks are 100 percent compliant, even if this means installing an AOBRD or another ELD compliant solution until 2019. The good news is this technology can help the CCO manage a fleet’s compliance strategy moving forward.
However, the ELD mandate isn’t the only player in motion. The FMCSA recently announced the Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, a database of FMCSA-regulated employers’ drug and alcohol violations (i.e., truckers). Designed to reduce the number of drivers under the influence and motor vehicle accidents, the Clearinghouse requires all fleets to be in full compliance by January 6, 2020. The FMCSA also issued its final ruling on its entry-level driver training standards, set to be in full effect come February 2020. It requires drivers train both in the classroom and behind the wheel, and a CCO is particularly helpful as fleets track each new employee. This is another reason why many CCOs use telematics, to log classroom hours and time spent on the road error-free.
Are they the right choice for your fleet?
Understanding the ever-changing regulatory field is tricky, but ensuring a fleet or carrier organization runs smoothly is challenging if an associate is focused on other tasks as well. By hiring a trucking CCO, especially one who adopts fleet management solutions, fleets can rest assured that all current and future regulations are navigated efficiently.
When deciding if hiring a CCO is the right move, fleets should consider a few basic requirements. First, they must take a comprehensive look at their regulatory needs and how close they are to meeting their compliance goals. Fleets with many steps to go will benefit most from a designated CCO. Second, fleets should consider their size – the bigger the fleet, the more difficult it is to meet full compliance, meaning more opportunities for a CCO to be utilized. Third, fleets must decide if the person currently doing the job is spending too much energy balancing their other job responsibilities with the fleet’s compliance needs. If so, hiring a CCO is a good way to cover the legwork and streamline efficiency in the organization.
Compliance fines and penalties can be steep – hours of service (HOS) fines alone account for more than $330 million in the trucking industry since 2015. As implementation of safety regulations increase in 2017 and new laws are implemented, fleets and carriers might want to consider adding a CCO to their ranks to future-proof their organization.