The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a government agency that regulates commercial trucking, has big plans for 2015. In response to outcry about trucking safety and petitions from a wide variety of consumer watchdog and safety advocacy groups, the regulator may roll out a number of changes this year.
Tracking of Drug & Alcohol Testing
Drunk driving accidents account for about a third of all traffic fatalities, and truck drivers are no exception to this rule. Pressure to drive longer distances in shorter periods, as well as everyday stress, addiction, and mental illness can all encourage truckers to drive while intoxicated. A new FMCSA rule, slated to go into effect in September of this year, would keep track of truckers who fail sobriety tests or who refuse to take them. With the consent of the truck driver in question, prospective employers could query the database to look for a history of intoxicated driving.
Electronic Logging Devices
Truckers face intense pressure to log as many miles as they can, but long days add up to fatigued and frustrated drivers. This form of distraction is a major contributor to trucking fatalities, but electronic logging devices (ELD) could help solve this problem. The devices would log how much time a trucker spends driving, with a new rule limiting time spent on the road to 11 hours per day. Trucking companies and drivers that attempt to skirt the rule could pay massive fines.
Speed is a leading cause of trucking-related fatalities. Because trucks are so large, they need more time to stop, and excessive speeds can even cause a driver to lose control of his or her vehicle. Speed limiting devices, though, can curb this problem by capping the maximum speeds at which trucks can drive. The current proposal would limit speeds to 68 mph.
Trucking Company Safety Scores
As things currently stand, it’s virtually impossible to compare the safety scores of various carriers. A rule slated to go into effect in March of 2015 hopes to change this. Safety score data, based on roadside inspection reports and similar information, would become publicly available, making it easier to compare safety records between carriers. A number of trucking organizations opposed the rule, and some lawmakers argue that the rule will produce misleading data that disadvantages some small carriers.