President Biden has signed into a law a sweeping trillion-dollar bill aimed at fixing crumbling roads, bridges, ports, water systems, and other infrastructure. It also contains numerous provisions that will impact the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and its highway safety programs for years to come.
The following are among dozens of provisions affecting commercial motor vehicle (CMV) safety in the Surface Transportation Investment Act of 2021, part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act signed into law on November 15, 2021.
- Apprenticeship program — Within 60 days, the FMCSA will need to start a three-year pilot program to allow up to 3,000 drivers under 21 years of age to operate commercial trucks in interstate commerce. These apprentice drivers will need to complete 400 hours of training, including 240 hours behind the wheel, in addition to having completed entry-level training to obtain a CDL.
- Electronic logging devices (ELDs) — Within six months, the FMCSA must report to Congress on the cost and effectiveness of ELDs and the process the agency uses to review ELD data, protect drivers’ personal information, and allow users to appeal ELD-related violations.
- Crash causation — The DOT must carry out a study to determine the causes of, and contributing factors to, crashes that involve CMVs, and to identify the types of data needed to improve future crash-causation determinations.
- Livestock HOS — The “ag commodity” hours-of-service exemption, as found in 49 CFR §395.1(k), has always exempted livestock drivers when operating within 150 air miles of the source of the livestock, but has now been expanded to apply within a 150 air-mile radius of the load’s final destination.
- Women of trucking — Within nine months, the FMCSA needs to establish a “Women of Trucking Advisory Board” to review and report on policies that advance the role of women in the trucking industry.
- Emergency braking — Within two years, the DOT must issue a new rule to require automatic emergency braking systems on CDL-class CMVs and study whether to require such systems on smaller CMVs as well.
- Passenger-carrier safety — The FMCSA will need to enact a variety of provisions designed to protect passengers on CMVs, especially limousines.
- Parking — States must study whether they provide adequate CMV parking.
- Truck leasing — Within six months, the FMCSA must establish a “Truck Leasing Task Force” to examine the terms of common truck leasing arrangements and determine if they’re equitable and result in safe vehicles on the road.
- Underride protection — The DOT must perform new research on side and rear underride guards and must establish an “Advisory Committee on Underride Protection” to advise on new regulations.
- OOS enforcement — The FMCSA will need to publish details about how it will prevent motor carriers from operating in interstate commerce after being placed out of service at the state level.
- CMVs used for recreational activities — The FMCSA must enact a new exemption for CMVs designed to transport 9–15 passengers, along with recreational equipment, operated within a 150 air-mile radius of the loading point.
- Driver compensation — Within one year, the FMCSA must enter into a contract with the Transportation Research Board to study CMV driver compensation and its effect on safety.