Jason Stephens | April 10, 2020 | Truck Accidents
NOTE: Stephens Law, PLLC only handles cases involving accidents and injuries. This article is for informational purposes only. Information found in the article does not constitute as formal legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. Stephens Law, PLLC cannot help you beyond the information provided below if you have questions regarding Texas trucking regulations.
If you work in the trucking industry in any capacity, you are required to follow the regulations set out by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and other governmental bodies. Should you fail to do so, you may end up losing your license or having to pay a hefty fine.
Of course, the specific rules that you are expected to follow change regularly. For 2020, authorities have made the following regulatory updates:
New Entry-Level Driver Training Directives
Starting in 2020, the minimum training standards to obtain a commercial driving license (CDL) will be set by the federal government. As a result, new drivers who wish to qualify for a Class A or Class B license will need to complete an expanded training program. This new program consists of:
- 31 course topics
- 19 driving skills
The list of institutions that can provide this training will be listed on the FMCSA’s Trainer Provider Registry.
Mandatory Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse Registration
This year, the FMCSA is rolling out a Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse system. The aim of this database is to give employers key information about the drug and alcohol violations of every CDL and CDL holder in the country. The FMCSA believes that this system will reduce the number of truck accidents on the nation’s roads and highways.
Trucking companies are required to enter their employees’ drug and alcohol violations into this new system. They must also verify that their drivers have completed all of their return-to-duty requirements.
Mandatory Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Implementation
In 2019, congress passed a law stating that almost all trucking companies would be required to use electronic logging devices (ELDs) to track the hours of service (HOS) of their drivers. This statute explains that:
- ELDs must be used by all commercial drivers who are required to document their HOS on records of duty status (RODS).
- All active ELDs must be fully certified and registered with the FMCSA.
- Trucking companies are forbidden to harass drivers based on their ELD data.
- Drivers who believe they have been harassed because of their ELD data may file a formal complaint.
Fines for violating this federal law can run as high as $10,000.
New IMO Sulfur Emissions Regulations
In an effort to reduce overall emissions by as much as 80 percent, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) recently announced that they will reduce allowable sulfur emissions from 3.5 weight percent to 0.5 weight percent starting in 2020.
This new regulation does not directly impact the trucking sector. However, just about every company in the industry is likely to feel a significant knock-on effect of the IMO’s decision – increased diesel prices.
At the moment, the maritime sector primarily runs on oil-based fuels. However, as they attempt to lower their emissions, many businesses will make the switch to diesel.
As the international demand for diesel continues to increase, it is all but certain that the per-gallon price of the fuel will follow suit.
Updated Overtime Rules
Most trucking companies in the United States have a small army of back-office workers that make sure trucks and delivery vehicles always arrive on time. During busy periods of the year, it is not unusual for these employees to work dozens of hours of overtime in a single month.
Back-office employees are typically classified as exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act. As such, this extra work is often done for no additional pay. In 2020, that may change.
The U.S. Department of Labor recently announced that it would be increasing its “standard salary level” for exempt employees from $23,660 to $35,568. As a result, back-office workers who earn less than the new floor are now entitled to receive overtime pay.
Of course, the introduction of overtime pay may present cash flow issues for some trucking companies. So, organizations that would prefer to keep their payroll relatively consistent throughout the year may find that it makes sense to give their employees a raise that puts them above the floor.
California’s Employees and Independent Contractors Bill
The state of California recently passed a bill that makes it trickier for companies to label their workers as contractors. To be classified as a contractor under the new law, an individual must pass the following three-step test:
- Their work must not be controlled or directed by the hiring entity.
- Their work is outside of the usual course of the hiring entity’s business.
- They are ordinarily engaged in a trade that is of the same nature as their work for the hiring entity.
Owner-operator truck drivers are likely to have trouble passing the second test. As such, starting in 2020, they will not be permitted to work with California trucking companies. This may make it easier for organizations in states like Texas to find the drivers they need.