Drivers Still Face A Host Of New Regulations

The U.S. DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has proposed a number of new regulations applicable to delivery truck drivers. I expected that several of these proposals would have become final rules by now, but politics, litigation and bureaucratic inertia have slowed down the process. I still expect that all of them will go into effect within the next couple of years.

Driver Hours of Service
The FMCSA published a final rule on December 27, 2011, amending the hours of service regulations. The new rule retains the 11-hour daily driving limit, but prohibits a driver from operating a CMV if more than 8 hours on duty have passed since the last break of at least 30 minutes. Most provisions of the final rule do not take effect until July 1, 2013. Complete details can be found in “Final Rule Addresses Hours of Service.

Electronic On-Board Recorders
FMCSA has adopted a final rule to require all companies that are found to have more than 10 percent of their driver logs out of compliance to use EOBRs on all of their trucks for hours of service compliance. But this rule was struck down by the court of appeals, and FMCSA is trying to revise the rule to comply with statutory requirements that the hours rule is not used by management to harass drivers.

In addition, FMCSA has proposed to mandate that all drivers in interstate commerce (except those who are exempt from driver’s logs) must use EOBRs; the rule would phase in after three years. But this requirement is also under review because of the court decision in the prior EOBR litigation and will most likely be delayed.

Entry-Level Driver Training
This rulemaking would require behind-the-wheel and classroom training for persons who must hold a commercial driver’s license to operate commercial motor vehicles. The rulemaking will consider the effectiveness of CMV driver training in reducing crashes, the appropriate types and levels of training that should be mandated and related costs.

A proposal published in December 2007 set out minimum hours and curriculum topics for training for Class A, B and C license holders. The requirements would apply to all new applicants, as well as and anyone who wants to upgrade a CDL to a higher level.

National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners
This rulemaking would establish training, testing and certification standards for medical examiners responsible for certifying that interstate commercial motor vehicle drivers meet established physical qualifications standards; provide an online database (or National Registry) of medical examiners that meet the prescribed standards for use by motor carriers, drivers, and federal and state enforcement personnel in determining whether a medical examiner is qualified to conduct examinations of interstate truck and bus drivers; and require medical examiners to transmit electronically to FMCSA the name of the driver and a numerical identifier for each driver that is examined. The rulemaking would also establish the process by which medical examiners who fail to meet or maintain the minimum standards would be removed from the National Registry.

Texting Ban, Restriction on Cell Phone Use in CMVs
The DOT has already issued a rulemaking to ban texting (sending or receiving of text messages) while operating a commercial motor vehicle. Effective January 3, 2012, DOT has prohibited the use of any handheld cellular telephone device while operating a CMV. (CB radios and two-way radios are still allowed, however.) Of course, GAWDA recommends that companies have their own policies to limit or preclude the use of cell phones while operating a company vehicle.

Drug and Alcohol Test Results Database
This rulemaking would create a central database for verified positive controlled substances and alcohol test results for CDL holders and refusals by such drivers to submit to testing, and would require employers of CDL holders and service agents to report positive test results and refusals to test into the database. Prospective employers, acting on an application for a CDL driver position with the applicant’s written consent to access the database, would query the database to determine if any specific information about the specific driver applicant is in the database before allowing the applicant to be hired and to drive a commercial motor vehicle.

Gases and Welding Distributors Association
Rick Schweitzer GAWDA’s Government Affairs and Human Resources Legal Consultant  Richard P. Schweitzer, Esq., is president of Richard P. Schweitzer, PLLC in Washington, D.C. Members can reach him at
202-223-3040 and rpschweitzer@rpslegal.com.