Trucking, Transportation Industries Looking for Trump Regulatory Changes

December 06, 2016 by Clarissa Hawes

Throughout his campaign, President-elect Donald Trump vowed to invest heavily in the nation’s crumbling infrastructure and reduce or roll back regulations that govern trucking, transportation and other industries.

As he works to fill his remaining Cabinet positions, here are some of the top regulatory and legislative issues the transportation industries would like to see Trump address.

Infrastructure Investment:

Trump listed rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure as a top goal of his presidency. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave U.S. infrastructure a D-plus rating earlier this year.

Trump proposed a $1-trillion long-term infrastructure funding plan to fix the nation’s roads, bridges and ports. Labor groups are supportive of new infrastructure projects, which could put thousands to work in construction jobs and also stimulate economic growth.

“It is time we commit to again making our infrastructure the envy of the world,” said Teamsters President James P. Hoffa.

Trump and President Barack Obama both support the use of public-private partnerships, or P3s – a partnership between government entities and private-sector businesses – to pay for the projects.

However, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, which represents more than 150,000 small-business truckers, opposes P3s, especially if tolls on truckers and motorists are used to pay for the projects.

Regulatory Reform:

During his campaign, Trump said he supported regulatory reform and planned to issue a temporary moratorium on new agency regulations once elected.

The Western States Trucking Association would like the incoming administration to increase requirements for federal agencies to “perform meaningful cost-benefit analysis to justify rulemakings,” said Joe Rajkovacz, the trade group’s director of governmental affairs.

The American Trucking Associations, the industry’s largest trade group, said it is hopeful that the Trump administration will offer common sense solutions to measure regulatory outcomes using “an inclusive and data-driven approach.”

The trade group said it is looking for policy that “focused on good, sound safety and economic outcomes, rather than a process that proposes well-intentioned solutions in search of problems,” said Sean McNally, spokesman for the ATA.

“We do think there will be opportunities for trucking to shape, not just the rules that are being written now, but how future rules are written,” McNally said.

ELD Mandate:

One of the hotly contested regulatory issues trade groups would like to see Trump’s administration settle is the impending mandate to equip trucks with so-called electronic logging devices, or ELDs. Truckers have 12 months to switch recordkeeping from paper logs to ELDs, which are linked to a semi-truck’s engine and capture the movement of the truck and record how much time a driver spends behind the wheel.

The ATA supports the ELD mandate, claiming it will level the playing field for all truckers, and said it looks forward to its implementation.

Other groups like WSTA oppose a blanket mandate on ELDs and said the devices should be required only for truckers with a “history of hours-of-service violations.”

The ELD mandate also has encountered fierce resistance from OOIDA, which says e-logs would spur unreasonable search and seizures and argues that the devices do not increase safety. The trade group lost an effort to overturn the regulation last month when the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago rejected arguments that the use of ELDs would violate truck drivers’ privacy and foster carrier harassment over driving hours. The trade group said it plans to file a petition due Dec. 15 asking the court to rehear its case.

Since the ELD rule was challenged in court and upheld, Avery Vise, president of TransComply, a trucking industry regulatory compliance consulting firm, said he doesn’t see Trump reversing the regulation because the administration would have to undo the “formal rulemaking process.” The push for ELD use dates back to President George W. Bush’s administration.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards:

Environmental groups fear the Trump administration will reverse greenhouse gas emissions and fuel economy standards launched by the Department of Transportation during the Obama administration.

The EPA issued new standards in August that will force manufacturers to reduce carbon emissions from a wide range of commercial trucks, buses and cargo vans that weigh more than 26,000 pounds in three phases by 2027.

The multi-year review process is intended to slash carbon emissions by approximately 1.1 billion metric tons over the lifetime of the vehicles sold under the program, or about a 25-percent reduction compared with the current rules.

Trucks account for 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions produced by the U.S. transportation sector.

Some small-business truckers said they can’t afford to keep their equipment updated to comply with the stringent federal regulations.

However, environmental groups said they would like to see even more stringent standards to ensure air-quality issues are addressed.

The Phase 2 rules are “extremely cost-effective,” said David W. Cooke, an analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“The technology pays for itself so quickly it’s hard to see it being a significant impediment even for people who are in the market for a new vehicle,” Cooke said. “New vehicles will actually increase the ability for truckers to reduce their fuel expenses.”

Battle lines also are being drawn over light-vehicle fuel economy standards.

When the EPA determined last week that automakers must meet tougher fuel economy standard targets set through 2025, the Auto Alliance, an industry lobbying representing companies that account for 77 percent of U.S. auto sales, criticized the ruling.

“This extraordinary and premature rush to judgment circumvents the serious analysis necessary to make sure the [fuel economy and greenhouse gas] standards appropriately balance fuel efficiency, carbon reduction, affordability and employment,” the alliance said. “The evidence is abundantly clear that with low gas prices, consumers are not choosing the cars necessary to comply with increasingly unrealistic standards. Wishing this fact away does no one any favors, and getting this wrong has serious implications.”

Trump transition team officials have said the new administration may review the rules.

Speed Limiters:

A controversial proposed rule that would require heavy-duty trucks to be equipped with an electronic device that limits their top speed could be killed by Trump, Vise said. Speed-limiter technology works with a truck engine’s electronic control module to govern how fast the vehicle can travel. Older trucks don’t have the electronic controls.

The measure, proposed by the Transportation Department’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in August, floats using speed limiters to cap maximum truck speeds at 60, 65 or 68 mph.

ATA said it supports reducing speeds but opposes the way the proposed rule is written because it’s unclear how a menu of top speeds will work when passenger vehicles are traveling at a much faster pace on the same roads. The trade group has urged safety regulators to limit the speed of all vehicles, including passenger cars, to 65 mph.

WSTA and OOIDA oppose mandatory speed limiters on trucks. The groups argue that the technology could create a safety hazard because speed governing creates a hazard when trucks running side by side can’t pass each other and wind up creating rolling roadblocks and traffic congestion.

Meal and Rest Break Legislation:

Another top priority for the ATA and WSTA is for Congress to pass legislation that would prohibit states such as California from enforcing their own unique meal and rest break requirements for truck drivers.

A 2014 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit affirmed that California could enforce its own meal and rest break requirements for the trucking industry. The ATA and WSTA said they would continue to push back against jurisdictions that are imposing extra meal and rest break requirements on interstate drivers already limited by federal hours-of-service regulations.

“We are keen to see the federal government assert itself and preempt the patchwork of state-level regulations on the trucking industry … that create an impediment to the safe and efficient flow of commerce,” the ATA said.

But the Teamsters will lobby hard against such a change. The union will argue that Republicans have long been the party of states’ rights and limited government and that blocking states from imposing their own rules over trucking would be inconsistent with that philosophy.

“What else might a state lose control of if the federal government blocked its ability to set basic labor standards for its citizens when hauling a good made in another state or country even though the drivers never leave that state?” Sam Loesche, the union’s transportation policy advisor, said earlier this year.

Hours of Service:

Congress could act on hours-of-service legislation in the appropriations bill before the end of the year. This would fix a loophole in the 2015 funding bill that unintentionally removed the 34-hour restart that truckers use to reset their on-duty clocks.

Once out of hours, the drivers had to take a so-called 34-hour restart – waiting 34 hours before driving again – and not do any overnight driving from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. for two nights.  In late 2014, Congress suspended the two overnight provisions in the rule after the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration implemented a more stringent 34-hour restart rule, which went into effect in 2013.

The rule was based on the amount of on-duty time a driver can have in a rolling seven-day or eight-day period. Truckers are not allowed to drive after 60 hours in seven days if they didn’t work for a trucking company that operated a full seven days a week.

If they did work for a motor carrier that operated seven days of the week, a driver was not allowed to drive after 70 hours in eight days.

Major trade groups – including the ATA, WSTA and OOIDA – would like to see a permanent fix that keeps the 34-hour restart and would return regulations to the less-restrictive requirements in force in December

Related: November Truck Orders Rise but Class 8 Vehicle Production Continues to Slide

12 Responses

  1. Dalton

    Level what playing field? The ATA is in the pockets of big business. Big trucking companies is the reason for eld’s. They are using this regulation to kill off the owner operators. If they were for the drivers they would help the guys stuck on the roads getting $400 a week to live in a company truck.

  2. walter k klein

    There is no level playing field, every failing large carrier has been bailed out by the us government.. low interest government loans , government contracts … the list goes on and on … since the trucker strike in the late seventy’s the government has been successfully regulating the small carrier and Owner /Operator out of business , there was a time in this country when over 50% of all trucks on the road in the United States were Owner/Operators, Today there is less than 10% left. That is something the Federal Government decided ,was too much power for the working man to have… all these regulations have nothing to do with public safety or making the us trucking industry better. God knows the Rates we have all been working for have declined for the last thirty years, New trucks use to cost Sixty Thousand dollars , Fuel was SIXTY CENTS a gallon and you could lease your truck on to a company and make 1.50 a mile… LAND OF THE FREE ? I think not.

  3. bobby

    after almost 50 years of trucking both as a driver and now as a 100 truck fleet owner.I can tell you that elds have created a situation where trucks are being tracked but not the drivers of those trucks.they can use the time to do anything but sleep.then when they do get sleepy they have to continue driving while fatigued.also the 14 hour rule has caused drivers like me to miss that 1 hour nap in the afternoon and have to drive into the blinding sun instead of pulling over or waiting and hour for rush hour traffic conditions to I’m prove. and you big carriers think slowing your trucks to 62 or 65 make you safer,should watch your trucks drive in in heavy traffic where the real danger is.

  4. Ken

    I am a company driver. There is no way I can justify the financial risk of owning my own truck. The first company I drove for I was on paper log. I could easily NET $4000 +/- a month. On e-log I’m luck if I get $3000 a month. The government strangles the drivers with rules and regulations, ALL the driving companies will LIE to the drivers offering BIG money and 3000 miles a week, shippers and receivers holding drivers at the dock for 4, 5, 8, 10 hours or more for load/unload (have to fight for detention pay or just lied to about it). Every driver understands everything I am saying. The driver is just crap. We’re paid crap, treated like crap, and are disposable. What the drivers don’t seem to understand is that without us this country comes to a grinding halt. If all company drivers and owner/operators stopped driving for one week – this country would fall apart. Nobody believes it. Take my word on this the government and corporations would lose their minds. Even if they got military to haul goods that would be a freaking disaster. We are the most important aspect of the countries infrastructure because we DO the work Not the government, not the company administrators, not the dispatchers, not the warehouses either. Trains, planes, and boats can’t get the goods to the stores either. It’s the nasty, dirty, stupid truck drivers that do this NO ONE ELSE. So if we have this much power why are we the lowest. Why are we dirt. We need to stand up and fight back for better benefits and better wages. Fight Back!!!!

    • Cassie

      This says it all and you are completely right. I to would like to see how this country would do without us truck drivers out here running and working our asses off to try to make ends meet for our families at home that we go without seeing for long periods of time. It’s not a easy job but someone has to do it. Why can’t we do it without being treated like criminals and scum ? We should be honored for providing our country with the goods that it strongly demands at no end.

  5. Rob

    The biggest problem with the ELD is the hours of service rules that have been created by those who know nothing about the trucking industry. The 14 hour running click or ticking time bomb as I call it is the most unsafe rule ever put into place. It causes drivers to race the clock and get into a rush when its not necessary.
    I have been driving for 26 years accident and ticket free, and should not be punished or have my rights ripped away from me because less experienced pressured and pushed drivers make mistakes. I like to get up early beat the morning rush hour when traffic is safer to drive in. Then take a nice little afternoon nap before driving a few more hours then park and have a sit down dinner during evening rush hour maybe even another short nap then drive the rest of my legal time. The 14 hour ticking time bomb makes this a money losing situation and is not safe for anyone. What ever happened to sleeping when your tired, taking a break when you need a break and working when your body is mentally and physically able to work. There are not two people on earth whos daily sleep schedules are identical and our bodies do not operate on a computer controlled system. Something needs to be done.

  6. Dan

    I agree with all of you’re Commits but you can’t get 10 drivers to agree on anything.We all need to stay home July 3 to July 6 ,and when we go back to work and make that phone call tell your boss or whatever you call him to stick there eld ,there 14 hour day and there 34 hour restart where it will do them the most good ,and the next time we take off it will be for.7 days

  7. Ken

    Because some companies treat their help so bad they can’t get anyone with a good driving record to work at their company they will hire anybody that holds a COL then when that unqualified driver gets in a wreck and causes that companies CSA score to go bad and then that company has to get proactive and do something about their score like install ELD’S . That is the companies own problem not everyone else’s . They have created their own so called unlevel playing field. What’s unlevel is when a carrier goes by all of the rules and turns down freight because they don’t have the hours to run a load and these companies with the bad CSA score can come back in and bid on the freight again just because they installed an electronic device.

  8. Greg

    I say truckers need to band together company drivers as well as owner operators and draw the line with. And it’s regulations

    In my humble opinion drivers should be able to drive at least 15 hours of driving at the driver’s discretion

    Because there’s some guys drive can only drive 5 hours other guys can drive 18 hours

    I myself have driven to Houston from California in 23 hours straight in personal vehicle

    The reset Time needs to be changed to 24 hours not 34 too long.

    We are not children that needs the government to tell us every step we can take with professional drivers and each driver is responsible to stop when he gets tired neither the company nor the government should be able to tell us how long we can drive

    I personally believe a truckers protest is an order this mandatory electronic snitch device sucks

  9. Greg

    The Failure in Chief clearly does not have a clue about sleep apnea. I have it and I do not sleep well unless I use my CPAP. Tired drivers are much more likely to be in an accident.

  10. sindi

    if they implement the elds , then they need to redo the 14 hr day rule to allow for traffic jams, delayed loading and unloading etc.

  11. Tiffany

    Does anyone know a way to help get these laws changed? I know Trump is working on it who do we contact to get that support he needs? I have already contacted my congressman……I want to do more!!!


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