Several Changes to Motor Carrier Safety Regulations on the Horizon

Written by  Sergeant Dana C. Moore, DPS CVE Training Unit

cement mixers

Since the last article, there have been several changes to both the Federal and State Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has published the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Mandate. Carriers whose drivers currently use paper logs may have to switch to ELDs. The new regulation includes an entirely new Subpart B in Part 395 of the Hours of Service (HOS) regulations. While this information is considerably more than can be covered in this article, I will provide the highlights to both interstate and intrastate operations.

On the interstate side, FMCSA has a three phase transitional period. Between now and December 18, 2017, companies can use paper logs, electronic apps and software programs, Automatic On-board Recording Devices (AOBRD), or approved ELD’s. After this date, ELD’s must be installed unless an AOBRD was installed prior. This will give the carrier an additional two years to upgrade the AOBRD to the ELD. By December 16, 2019, ELD’s must be installed unless there is a qualifying exemption. There are three exemptions to the mandatory ELD use. First, companies whose drivers qualify for the log book exemption, known as “Short Haul.” This is a driver who stays within a 100 air-mile radius of the normal work reporting location, is released from work within 12 hours, and the company maintains time records. Second, a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) that was manufactured prior to year 2000. And last, any vehicle that can qualify as a drive-away-tow-away operation and is part of the load being transported.

DPS has adopted the ELD rule for intrastate operations with a few modifications. Between now and December 16, 2019, motor carriers can use any of the above listed record of duty status options, such as paper logs, apps, AOBRD’s, or ELD’s. After this date, ELD’s will be required unless the driver can qualify for any one of the three listed exemptions. Also, the “Short Haul” exemption for intrastate drivers is 150 air-miles, as opposed to the interstate 100 air-mile exemption.

This is a very brief overview of the new HOS rules. Carriers should begin to evaluate their operations for compliance.

The recent congressional FAST Act has mandated the FMCSA to make several rule changes that could directly affect construction operations. Ready-mixed concrete trucks have been granted the “Short Haul” log book exemption, which extends the on-duty logging threshold from 12 to 14 hours in order to be consistent with the 14-hour operating window contained in the HOS regulations. DPS has followed suit and will be extending the intrastate “Short Haul” operations to 14 hours as well for ready-mixed concrete trucks. The FAST Act also allows interstate ready-mixed concrete drivers to obtain the required 30 minute break by remaining “on-duty” as long as no other work is performed. In addition, carriers that engage in the transportation and delivery of construction materials and equipment will benefit from an increase in the air-mile radius from 50 to 75 air-miles in order to satisfy the current 24-hour restart provision. DPS has adopted this change making it applicable to intrastate operations.

On behalf of the Texas Department of Public Safety and the CVE Training Unit, we would like to extend our sincere appreciation to the AGC and its members who assisted with the Texas Challenge Competition this past summer in Corpus Christi. As always, it was a wonderful and treasured opportunity for our inspectors to work side by side with members of industry in the interest of our shared, common goal of transportation safety. We look forward to seeing you there next year!

sergeant dana mooretexas highway patrol



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