Congress Fall Session Signals US Trucking Docket Restart

Both chambers of US Congress resumed work this week coming off the annual August recess, and both have several major trucking regulatory reforms and  legislation that will likely will see action before year’s end.

According to CCJ magazine, here’s a few expected measures on tap over the next few months:

CSA score removal: Included in the Senate’s DRIVE Act is a provision that would remove CSA scores from public view, a measure sought for by the many in the trucking industry since the program took effect in 2010. The bill cleared the Senate in late July with the provision intact. The House still must pass the DRIVE Act, though it likely will produce its own version rather than simply taking up the Senate’s bill. The Senate bill calls for removal of the scores from public view until regulators can fix the program’s flaws.

Hours-of-service ‘restart rollback’ continuation: Both the House and the Senate have taken up bills that would continue the suspension of certain hours-of-service rules, implemented last December. Congress last year put a stay of enforcement on two 2013-implemented regulations: (1) That a driver’s 34-hour restart include two 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. periods and (2) The limitation of the restart’s use to once per week.

The Senate’s 2016 approprations bills would keep the stay of enforcement in place until FMCSA can report to Congress research that shows the rules yield safety benefits.

Driver drug testing: Also included in the Senate’s DRIVE Act highway bill is a change to driver drug screening regulations. It would allow carriers to use hair testing in lieu of urine testing to satisfy federal drug testing requirements.

Size and weight changes: Both chambers’ DOT-funding bills also would allow 33-foot double trailers, an increase from the current 28-foot maximum.

CSA score disclaimers: If the DRIVE Act does not make it through Congress with the provision to remove CSA scores included, the Senate also has in the works another measure — one to require that all public displays of carrier percentile rankings in CSA’s Safety Measurement System include disclaimers that, per the bill’s text, “[warns] users that [CSA scores] are not necessarily reliable indicators of relative safety performance.” The CSA disclaimer provision is included in the Senate’s 2016 DOT appropriations bill.

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