The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration proposed a ruling in 2014 titled the Coercion of Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers. This ruling, if passed by legislatures, would prevent those in logistics including shippers, motor carriers, dispatchers and load recipients from forcing drivers aka truckers from violating industry regulations. Of course the issue for those in logistics is how this regulation would affect them. After all, while the ruling is idealistic in protecting drivers and passersby, there lacks a structure for determining how these coercions are conducted, nor how they will be remedied.
Hours-of-Service Ruling Issues for Truckers
The FMCSA via the DOT want to ensure that truckers are maintaining their hours-of-service limits, which are the numbers of hours a truck driver can be on the road in between off-duty periods. At the moment the hours-of-service rules for property carrying CDL drivers include:
- 11-hour driving limit that requires a driver take 10 consecutive hours off-duty before driving for up to 11 hours straight
- 14-hour driving limit, which also provides a 10 hour off-duty requirement but with an increased time on duty
- 60/70 hour driving limit for truckers within 7/8 consecutive days of driving, in which a driver has to take 34 consecutive hours of off-duty time before they can restart the 7/8 day driving period
NOTICE: The Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015 was enacted on December 16, 2014, suspending enforcement of requirements for use of the 34-hour restart. For more information see FMCSA’s Federal Register notice: www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/hours-service/hours-service-drivers
These hours-of-service rules were instated in 2014 in order to curb the amount of sleepy truckers on the road, which increases road hazards and the strain on truck drivers. The Coercion of Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers would ensure that these hours-of-service rules are followed to a tee. At the present truckers who need to get around HOS are known to fudge their log books in order to ensure that loads are delivered on time as demanded by their dispatchers, shippers and receivers. The new FMCSA ruling is an attempt at reducing the number of drivers who are forced to get around the HOS.
Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Regulations
Another point of contention for those in support of the Coercion of Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers ruling is the gray area of CDL regulations. A commercial driver’s license, or CDL, comes in three classes—Class A, Class B and Class C. These classes are defined as follows:
- Class A CDL allows a driver to operate a commercial vehicle weighing more than 26,000 pounds with a towing weight of more than 10,000 pounds, without a passenger requirement
- Class B CDL is for drivers operating a vehicle greater than 26,000 pounds but with a 10,000 pounds or less towing weight; also no passenger requirement
- Class C CDL is for a driver operating a vehicle of less than 26,000 pounds in weight with no towing capabilities, but with more than 16 passengers
Those with a Class A CDL are more likely to drive long haul tractor-trailers, while a Class B driver is typically a less-than-truckload (LTL) driver who operates a straight truck regionally. A Class C CDL is typically for a bus driver, such as a school bus or public transportation system. When a dispatcher gets a driver with a Class B to handle a tractor-trailer that exceeds the 10,000 pound towing weight, this is against the CDL regulations. Not only is the driver unlicensed to operate such a rig, but there is the very real risk of injury to or on behalf of the driver. Also, the receipt of a Class A CDL requires much more time and knowledge than a Class B or Class C CDL. By asking drivers to operate trucks or to haul loads out of their CDL class, this undercuts those drivers who are qualified for the loads.
Hazardous Materials Regulations Concerns
Along the lines of the CDL regulation worries, the FMCSA has issue with the way hazardous materials are handled. As with CDL classes, truck drivers have to receive certification to operate certain types of loads. For the majority of truckers with a Class A, the top regulations are hazardous materials and tankers. If a trucker has received certification in both of these they are given a combo certification, which increases their marketability as a truck driver.
In order to be certified for hazardous materials a driver must pass a background check and drug/alcohol screening. For businesses, shippers, dispatchers or receivers who ask uncertified drivers without a hazmat certification to handle a hazardous materials load, they are putting everyone along the route at risk. Operating a heavy machinery is serious business. However, operating a machine while towing hazardous material increases the risk exponentially. There is great danger in allowing uncertified drivers to handle such loads, and this is another area that FMCSA is working to protect.
Impact of Coercion of Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers Law on Shipping Costs and Logistics
Added Paperwork, More time to Plan Needed
For those in logistics if this ruling passes the main point will be that everyone will have to triple-check and verify the driver’s abilities to handle loads. This could create added work given some drivers may be unwilling to be honest and upfront about their CDL classifications. Also, the hours-of-service rule is the responsibility of the truck driver, at the present. If this ruling passes it will be interesting to see how the HOS will become the shared responsibility of the logistics, shippers and receivers, as well. One thing is for certain, the paperwork will pile up as more requirements are made to verify truckers. Either way, we all know, time is money. With any new procedure or law, it will slow things down as we all master a possible new reality.
Increased Costs for Violation of the Coercion of Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers Law
An Excerpt from JOC.com:
Under a driver coercion regulation now on the federal drawing board, a shipper or consignee could be accused of “coercing” the truck driver to violate federal safety rules in order to make that on-time delivery, and coercion will carry stiff financial penalties. “The driver coercion rule-making could be the most significant change we’ve seen in transportation in our lifetime,” according to Mike Regan, chief relationship officer at TranzAct Technologies, told the more than 200 shippers, carriers and brokers at the Transportation and Logistics Council’s 41st annual conference.
“How many of you are now prepared to verify that when a truck driver pulls up to your dock, he has the hours available to move your freight?” Regan asked. No one in the audience, which included more than a few receivers and shippers of freight, raised their hand.
Not being prepared could be costly. The rule-making in question would hit offenders, including motor carriers, logistics operators and shippers, with penalties of up to $11,000 per incident, and possible revocation of the operating authority of a carrier, freight broker or forwarder.
Shippers May Need to Turn to Expertise in Transportation Management
OK yes, Cerasis is a transportation management solutions provider, but as you will see in an upcoming post, more and more companies, especially manufacturing companies, are turning to those companies like Cerasis who are experts in these regulations and rules related to transportation. They seem to be changing not in the favor of the industry. As a manufacturer, you already have many other issues to face within your core business, and allowing someone to take the complexities of transportation management off your hands by empowering you with choice through a transportation management system and services related to transportation management such as carrier relationship management, freight claims, freight accounting, and more, can allow you to stay streamlined and continue to curb seemingly ever growing transportation costs.