How Trucking Regulations Could Change Under Trump

The president wants to cut two federal regulations for every new one. How will that affect trucking?

In February, President Donald Trump issued an executive order requiring all federal agencies to examine their regulations for possible removal or revisions. In keeping with that order, the U.S. Department of Transportation recently named Jeffrey Rosen as its regulatory reform officer. In May, an advisory board for the DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will meet to discuss regulations that are “outdated, unnecessary or ineffective.”

Below are some of the DOT rules that will be examined and how they may change under a president who wants to aggressively roll back regulations.

Regulations on the Chopping Block

Safety Fitness—In March, the FMCSA withdrew a proposed rule that would set new safety fitness standards and processes for trucking fleets. The safety fitness rule would have determined if a carrier was unfit to operate commercial trucks based on compliance investigations and on-road safety data. Right now, carrier safety rules are in a state of flux, as Congress has asked the National Academy of Sciences to study the effectiveness of the FMCSA’s current Compliance, Safety and Accountability scoring system.

Speed Limiters—A proposed rule to mandate speed limiting devices for Class 7 and 8 trucks is probably a no-go under the Trump Administration. The speed limiter rule has many opponents among trucking industry groups that argue that a mandatory nationwide speed limit for trucks could cause more traffic congestion and more accidents.

Sleep Apnea—In the summer of 2017, the FMCSA announced it had tabled a proposed rule that would set criteria for drivers to be screened for obstructive sleep apnea. However, Congressional Democrats are now pushing the FMCSA to resume working on the rule.

Regulations Unlikely to Change for Now

Hours of Service—Last year, Congress killed the 34-hour restart rule. The FMCSA later found that the rule had little impact on truck drivers’ health or safety. The controversial restart regulation that required covering two 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. periods is unlikely to resurface. No other changes to the DOT’s hours-of-service rules appear to be in the works.

Driver Training—In December 2016, the DOT issued new training requirements for entry-level truck drivers, as well as drivers looking to re-apply for a commercial driver’s license. The new rule, which would require 30 hours of training, was supposed to take effect in February, but was delayed by the DOT and did not go into effect until June 5, 2017. The Trump Administration has not said whether it opposes the new driver training standards.

Regulations That Will Probably Move Forward

ELD Mandate—The controversial DOT rule that would require most heavy trucks to use electronic logging devices (ELDs) is still on track to take effect on Dec. 18, 2017. The ELD rule is strongly opposed by trucking groups like the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, which filed a lawsuit against the mandate, claiming it is unconstitutional and harrasses drivers. That legal challenge was shot down this past summer when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear OOIDA's case. Despite resistance from many truck drivers, there is no sign that the FMCSA intends to shelve the ELD rule before the Dec. 18 compliance deadline.

Driver Drug Testing—The American Trucking Associations and a group of U.S. senators are pushing for the use of hair samples in drug testing for truck drivers. The FAST Act highway bill approved by Congress in 2015 required guidelines for hair testing as a new industry standard. The belief is that drug testing by hair samples will identify more drivers who are safety risks than the current practice of urine testing.

Sources: Overdrive, American Trucker, Trucking Industry News, Commercial Carrier Journal, The Hill, Transport Topics