The rules and regulations that the trucking industry faces are ever-changing: Fleets must work through a range of newly-appointed orders to stay compliant. And it’s not easy.
In the past year, fleets had to deal with new rules regarding Hours of Service (HOS), fuel economy standards, healthcare and greenhouse gas emissions. And there are plenty more on the horizon, which is why preparing your fleet for the incoming changes is crucial to your company's success.
The evolution of trucking has now led to further plans and proposals that are now on the forefront. Some of the more noticeable items include mandating the use of technology, such as electronic logging devices (ELDs), the adoption of the clean air initiative, health-related insurance, and the far-reaching effects of the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program.
Electronic Logging Devices
While drivers may not advocate for ELDs, they will soon have to accept the mandated technology.
In March, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) created a proposal to require interstate commercial truck and bus companies to use ELDs in their vehicles to improve compliance with the safety rules that govern the number of hours a driver can work.
While the proposal originated with good intentions, the proposed 2016 mandate on ELDs is causing quite a stir in the trucking industry.
According to an April survey by Overdrive Magazine, a whopping 71 percent of independent truck drivers and 52 percent of company drivers said they would quit their career if ELDs were mandated. And with good reason, perhaps. New technology and design are often an unnecessary complication for drivers who simply want to get the job done. Learning and navigating a new device can be a time consuming task.
Despite the negative reaction, there are plenty of benefits that the ELD mandate would provide: Drivers will be able to improve compliance with existing safety rules that govern the number of hours they are allowed to work, which could lessen driver coercion and other violations. The proposed rulemaking would considerably reduce the paperwork burden associated with manual HOS recordkeeping for interstate truck and bus drivers, and it would also improve the quality of logbook data submitted.
The FMCSA also stated the new rule will ultimately reduce HOS violations by making it more difficult for drivers to misrepresent their time on logbooks. This would help truck drivers avoid detection by the FMCSA and other law enforcement personnel. An examination of the data has shown it will also help reduce crashes caused by fatigued drivers and prevent approximately 20 fatalities and 434 injuries each year for an annual safety benefit of $394.8 million, according to the FMCSA.
Clean Air Initiative
In an attempt to reduce greenhouse emissions, fuel efficiency standards are already being phased in this year under a joint agreement between the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency. Those regulations, which are set to go into effect in stages until 2018, levy different fuel efficiency marks based on the size and weight of the vehicle involved:
- Heavy-duty trucks and vans will be required to achieve up to a 10 percent reduction for gasoline vehicles and a 15 percent reduction for diesel vehicles in fuel consumption
- Most tractor-trailers will be required to achieve a 20 percent reduction in fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions and fuel consumption
- Vocational vehicles will be required to reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 10 percent
Health-Related Insurance and Costs
Another proposed regulation that may go into effect soon focuses on an employer mandate related to health coverage. This mandate will require companies with 50 or more full-time employees to provide healthcare for their workforce under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare. Under this rule, companies may be fined for each uninsured employee, which could sum up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in yearly fines. But businesses can help keep extra costs at bay. Implementing preventative care initiatives, such as mandatory physicals, is key in eliminating high insurance premiums for employers and their workers.
Compliance, Safety, Accountability Program Affects Preventative Maintenance
The CSA program was created in order to improve large truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce crashes, injuries and fatalities that are related to commercial motor vehicles.
CSA quickly collects violation information, ranking the safety performance of fleets with similar operations based on that information and making it available to the public. Similarly, drivers receive their own scores.
While CSA records capture both driver and vehicle violations, it creates a two-edged blade for maintenance operations. Drivers now report problems they formerly considered too minor to note. Issues such as broken lamps or underinflated tires will keep drivers from leaving on a trip because they want to avoid CSA-damaging violations. That helps maintenance stay on top of those repairs, but it also may create a bit of a backlog in maintenance repairs for fleet companies. The true answer to help avoid this and other potential issues during federal mandate season is to invest more in preventative efforts, such as safety tools and features that help optimize your fleet, and stay informed.
To see how Teletrac Safety Analytics, ELDs and other driver features can help you adapt to the latest mandates, get a Free Live Demo Now!