Regulatory Update

Apr 10, 2024

It should come as no surprise that 2024, an election year, has started out a bit slow on Capitol Hill. With the country’s focus on the upcoming elections, Congress is not expected to have a record year of passed legislation. However, while new laws and regulations may not be officially enacted, debate will certainly continue. Here are a few of the top regulatory issues to watch in 2024:


FMCSA Safety Measurement System (SMS) Updates

As part of Compliance Safety Accountability (CSA), the FMCSA has proposed several changes to its Safety Measurement System (SMS) methodology, including:

  • Discontinuing the BASICs categories and renaming them as “safety categories.” These categories include:
    • Unsafe Driving – This new category would absorb the Controlled Substances/Alcohol and Operating while Out-of-Service (OOS) violations, which were previously their own categories.
    • Vehicle Maintenance – This includes both violations identified during a walk-around roadside inspection and all other violations detected during both routine maintenance and as part of a full roadside inspection.
    • Crash Indicators
    • Hours-of-Service Compliance
    • Hazardous Materials Compliance
    • Driver Fitness
  • Reorganized roadside violations. This change would combine the current 950 violations into 116 groups. This means if a motor carrier receives multiple violations during an inspection, but the violations are all in the same group (of 116 re-organized categories), it would be treated as a single violation. However, all violations would be listed on the report.
  • Simplified severity weights. The FMCSA proposed replacing the 1-10 weighting scale with a 1 or 2 scale.
  • A greater focus on carriers who have received a violation in the last 12 months, rather than those with violations from previous years.


Mandatory Speed Limiters

The Department of Transportation’s proposed truck speed limiter rule was originally expected to go to vote and, if passed, roll out in mid-2023. The rule would require all commercial vehicles weighing over 26,000 pounds to be equipped with an electronic speed limiter. While the maximum speed was not officially identified, the FMCSA listed 68 miles per hour as the maximum speed in an agenda for a hearing in September 2023. The FMCSA then rescinded that information and stated that the official speed limit had yet to be determined. Owner-operators have pushed back against the rule, arguing that decreasing speed will increase the amount of trucks needed to move goods, thus increasing the potential for accidents. Most large trucking companies, as well as the American Trucking Associations, are in favor of the rule, stating that research shows speed limiters are effective in decreasing the number of high-speed accidents. Additionally, companies can benefit from fuel savings by driving at a consistent speed. The speed limiter rule has been debated at several hearings on Capitol Hill, resulting in the FMCSA postponing the decision until May 2024 or possibly later.


Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse: Return to Duty Process 

The rules of the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse currently state that drivers with drug or alcohol violations are given “prohibited” status. However, as of November 18, 2024, drivers with the prohibited status will lose either their CDL license or their approval for a Commercial Learner’s Permit. 

To remedy this situation, drivers will be required to meet with a DOT-qualified substance abuse professional and complete the following actions: 

  • Complete their recommended treatment and/or education plan 
  • Pass a return-to-duty test 
  • Pass six unannounced follow-up tests assigned throughout the first 12 months back on the job


Commercial Driver’s License Testing and Commercial Learner’s Permit NPRM

This February, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to amend the Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Requirements to reduce barriers for people to enter a career driving commercial vehicles. Under the revised list of requirements, drivers are allowed to take their CDL skills test in any state, regardless of the state in which they were trained. Currently, once an applicant completes the entry level driver training and performance-based behind-the-wheel training, they must wait at least 14 days to take the CDL skills test. The amendment also proposes providing an exception to allow Commercial Learner’s Permit holders who have passed the skills test but haven’t received their CDL credentials to operate a commercial vehicle without a CDL holder in the passenger seat. The CDL holder must still be in the vehicle, but they do not necessarily have to be in the passenger seat. Additionally, the amendment allows states to use third-party examiners for electronic testing, provided they utilize the same training, record checking, and monitoring standards as the state examiner.