Evolving Regulations in Trucking: Navigating Compliance Challenges
Regulations in trucking can be a vast & oftentimes complex topic. But these regulations are crucial for ensuring safety & minimizing traffic collisions in the trucking industry. Governed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), these regulations are changed & updated often to reflect industry trends. Understanding and navigating these regulations is essential to ensure compliance, avoid legal issues and to keep your operations moving smoothly.
In this guide, we’re going to dive deep and explore this regulatory landscape. We’re going to discuss what’s already required and what the future of this landscape might look like for shippers & logistics providers.
Current Rules & Regulations in Trucking
While not necessarily exclusively mandated by the FMCSA, the following is an overview of the key regulations that apply to freight brokers & carriers (as of November 2023):
1. Operating Authority (MC number)
Carriers must register with the FMCSA and obtain an Operating Authority to legally transport goods for hire. Often identified as an “MC,” “FF,” or “MX” number, depending on the type of authority that is granted.
2. Broker Registration
Freight brokers must register with the FMCSA and obtain a Broker Authority before arranging transportation services. This process involves meeting specific financial responsibility requirements.
3. Surety Bond
Freight brokers are required to maintain a surety bond as part of their financial responsibility. This bond ensures that carriers are paid for their services, and it serves as a form of protection for both carriers and shippers.
4. Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)
The issuance and maintenance of a CDL is regulated by both federal and state authorities. Drivers must meet specific criteria, including passing written and practical exams, to obtain and retain their commercial driving privileges.
5. Hours of Service (HOS) Regulations
HOS regulations dictate the maximum amount of time commercial truck drivers can spend on the road within specific periods. Compliance with HOS rules helps to prevent accidents caused by driver fatigue.
6. Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Mandate
Closely aligned with the HOS regulations, the ELD mandate requires the use of electronic logging devices to record a driver’s hours of service accurately.
7. Drug and Alcohol Testing
Trucking companies are required to implement drug and alcohol testing programs for their drivers to ensure a sober and safe operating environment.
For more information on each of these regulations, visit the FMCSA’s website.
Keeping up to date and compliant with regulations in trucking can be challenging. Especially as new regulations are periodically introduced at both the federal & state level. This need to keep up to date puts many businesses on the backfoot, especially when this involves making changes to their operations.
However, the consequences of non-compliance are far more costly.
Non-compliance with trucking regulations can result in significant legal penalties & fines. They may also face increased insurance costs, the loss of their operating authority, and potential shutdowns.
This is why as a business working with a logistics provider, it’s important to check that they’re fully up to date & compliant with regulations. If the worst-case scenario was to happen and your logistics provider loses the ability to operate, you could find your goods stranded until you find an alternative provider.
To mitigate these consequences, logistics providers should prioritize compliance by staying informed about regulatory updates, implementing safety measures & investing in staff training. By being proactive in their compliance efforts, they not only reduce the risk of legal issues, but they also contribute to the overall safety and efficiency of the transportation sector.
Future Regulations in Trucking
Regulations in trucking often feel like more of a help than a hindrance. But it’s important to recognise these regulations are in fact forward-thinking. They act as a way of establishing a more sustainable, efficient, and safer environment within the trucking industry. For this final section we’re going to make some predictions where we think trucking regulations might head in the future:
Environmental Sustainability ♻️
The first prediction comes with the continued attention towards greener policies.
Climate change is becoming more apparent with more people noticing the tangible impacts on the environment. Rising sea levels and extreme weather events have seen more people opting for clean energy, eco-friendly products, and signalling companies to step up their green initiatives.
With this increased support from consumers, we expect there to be more rules aimed at cutting carbon emissions and reducing fuel consumption. How exactly these rules could be implemented is anyone’s guess. However, with the prominence of electric vehicles becoming more widespread, it’s not unreasonable to think that the FMCSA might eventually mandate trucking companies to adopt zero or low-emission trucks.
There are a few ways that we at PEI have already adapted to environmental sustainable practices, the first being, using DEF (Diesel Exhaust Fluid) which is a non-toxic fluid used in modern diesel engines to reduce emissions. Our entire fleet utilize DEF to do our part in creating a greener planet!🌍
Another fantastic piece of kit we use are APU’s (Auxiliary Power Units) to those who haven’t heard of them, they’re a system installed in trucks that provide power and climate control during idle time without using the main engine. They’re perfect for those idle times when drivers are on their mandatory breaks and greatly reduce fuel consumption, engine wear and emissions. Overall, improving trucking sustainability. 🚚
This year, tech has stolen the spotlight, with gadgets like electronic logging devices (ELDs) and telematics making it compulsory to log driving times. We expect that over the coming years, tech will continue to become more & more prominent as both a way to adhere to new rules and also as something that will require rules governing it. Notably, the future of self-driving capabilities in trucks comes to mind. This technology will not only eliminate the risk of human error, meaning fewer collisions. It’ll also mean huge savings for shippers & trucking companies who no longer have the expense of a human driver.
When this technology eventually becomes good enough, we’ll see fleets of driverless trucks, which will raise questions like:
- Will it completely eliminate the need for drivers?
- How can it be adopted safely?
- Who would be liable in the event of a collision?
While driverless trucks raise a whole bunch of ethical questions, we imagine some of the biggest regulations will take aim at reducing the economic impact coming from drivers losing their jobs. This might take shape in the form of new taxes or penalties for companies operating these trucks. Or it might mean only a limited number of these trucks can be operated, preserving some jobs for drivers.
It’s hard to say, but we guess time will tell…
Need a safe & fully-compliant logistics partner for your shipments?
At PEI we’re that safe pair of hands you can trust to get your freight from point A to B at precisely the time you need it, with any custom requirements.