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Final Highway Bill Signed This Week. What’s In It???

The US Congress Sent the Bill to the President for Signature.

Truck Driver Safety Expert Witness / Truck Accident Expert Witness Articles

By Scott Greene

Congressional committees have produced what they believe will be the final highway bill. The five year, long term bill, is expected to be in the President’s hands by Monday, December 7th, 2015. The bill is named the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act.

 

FMCSA Logo - Trucking Regulations Expert WitnessThe New Transportation Funding Bill Has Lots of Requirements of the FMCSA!

Here are the highlights of what is IN the Transportation Funding Bill Bill aka Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act:

CSA System Changes.

The Safety Measurement System (SMS) which provides data to the public from the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program will be removed from public view. The legislations requires the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to work together to identify the failings of the ranking system, and to develop a plan to resolve these failings and implement the plan before the system will display the rankings to the public.

Once passed, the FMCSA has 18 months to study the current CSA system and to rectify what some believe are flawed methods of ranking motor carriers. Issues like crash risk, accuracy of CSA data, crash fault, and ranking methodologies are all to be examined. In addition the FMCSA is to study how the public uses CSA scores in determining how safe a trucking company is, and how the public uses CSA scores in selecting a motor carrier to move its freight.

Commercial Truck & Bus Driver Drug Testing Reform

The bill allows for motor carriers to change how drivers are tested for drugs. Currently urine is used to test for drugs under section 382.301 & 382.303 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. While this is being allowed, there is currently no standard published by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) for hair testing. If passed, the bill will require the DHHS to produced the guidelines within 12 months of the bill’s enactment.

Driver Detention Time Study:

Driver detention, in this bill, is defined as the time the driver is at a shipper or receiver’s location waiting for a truck to be loaded or unloaded. The FAST bill requires the FMCSA to investigate and produce a report on the impact truck driver detention has on drivers, their schedules, their pay as well as the impedance of freight flow and delivery.

Required Liability Insurance Increase Study:

In this bill, Congress directs the FMCSA to conduct a study of carrier liability insurance minimums. The study must be completed and before initiating a rule to raise them. The provision essentially adds another hurdle to FMCSA’s potential work to increase the amount of liability insurance required to be held by motor carriers, currently at $750,000 for general freight haulers.

Changes to the FMCSA Rulemaking Process:

The new bill calls for the FMCSA to include a “regulatory impact analysis,” as the bill refers to it, for all new rules. Each analysis will examine the effect of a new rule on carriers of different sizes and types. The analysis must be done in conjunction with motor carrier representatives and/or commercial motor vehicle (CMV) operators who may be impacted by the new rule.

Military Service Veterans Entry In To the Trucking Industry:

The FAST Bill allows former military personnel who have experience operating machinery which is comparable to a heavy truck or a bus to use that experience towards obtaining a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). The FMCSA would allow easier access to a civilian CDL truck operator job by counting military driving experience toward skills and driving tests. In addition, military veterans would be able to obtain their medical certificates from Veterans Affairs (VA) doctors instead of a doctor who is in the FMCSA’s National Registry of Medical Examiners.

Our next newsletter will outline what was discussed but not included in the final bill.

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