There are some major changes on the horizon for commercial trucking. Is your fleet prepared? As 2023 draws to a close, it’s critical that organizations set aside time research the many regulatory updates that could take place throughout 2024.

Below, we explore some of the most significant regulations and the proactive steps you can take to ready your commercial drivers. 

1. FMCSA Safety Measurement System (SMS) Updates 

Perhaps the largest potential shift in commercial transportation is the updated FMCSA Safety Measurement System (SMS). The FMCSA has proposed nine major changes to their methodology, including (but not limited to):  

  • Reorganized BASICs, including new safety categories like unsafe driving and vehicle maintenance 
  • Reorganized roadside violations, bucketing all 950 currently-recognized violations into 116 distinct groups 
  • Simplified severity weights, replacing the 1-10 scale with a 1 or 2 score 
  • A greater focus on carriers who have received a violation in the last 12 months  

These wide-reaching changes will have major impacts on all carriers. We explore some of the finer details in a recent webinar, “Expert Perspectives: Navigating FMCSA’s Proposed Methodology Changes.” 

2. CDL Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse: Return to Duty Process  

Per Title 49 CFR parts 40 and 382, drivers with drug or alcohol violations are given “prohibited” status in the FMCSA’s Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse. As of November 18, 2024, all prohibited drivers will lose either existing commercial driving privileges or their approval for a Commercial Learners Permit (CLP).  

Drivers will be required to undergo a rigorous re-evaluation to return to good standing. Prohibited drivers must:  

  • Meet with a DOT-qualified Substance Abuse Professional (SAP)  
  • Complete their recommended treatment and/or education plan  
  • Pass a return-to-duty test  
  • Pass six unannounced follow-up tests assigned throughout the first 12 months back on the job 

To prevent potential suspension, drivers and fleet managers alike must learn the ins and outs of Clearinghouse procedures, including pre-employment drug and alcohol testing, how to access records and what data must be reported to the FMCSA. 

3. Mandatory Speed Limiters

A redacted DOT report ruffled feathers this fall, suggesting that commercial vehicle speeds would soon be limited to 68 mph on interstates and highways. The organization quickly backtracked and explained that the specific speed limit was yet to be determined. Evaluation is still underway, however, and the official proposal will be published on Friday, December 29, 2023. In addition to the maximum speed limit, the documentation will also outline which types of vehicles are subject to the new regulations. It’s widely believed that speed limiters will only be required for vehicles made after 2003 that weigh 26,000 pounds or more.

It will likely take a while before speed limiters affect day-to-day operations, but it’s always a good idea to remind drivers about safe driving practices like speed management. These seven safety messages can help create positive habits.

4. Competency and Skills Testing

In 2009, the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety submitted a proposal urging the FMCSA to implement a competency test for commercial drivers, ensuring that all commercial drivers on American roadways are qualified, properly trained and well-versed in federal regulations. The petition sat in limbo for the next 14 years. In August of 2023, to the surprise of many, the FMCSA issued an Advance Notice of Potential Rule Making (ANPRM) indicating their intent to pursue the motion.  

Although this new regulation has not yet gone into effect, it’s in commercial carriers’ best interest to revisit their approach to training and hiring in 2024. Routine training is valuable for new drivers and seasoned professionals alike. In fact, SambaSafety data shows that fleets who undergo monthly training have 50% fewer violations that those who train twice a year. An effective driver training program should incorporate a healthy blend of topics — like space management, distracted driving and defensive driving — that are relevant to people of all skill levels.  

Commercial carriers should also maintain strict hiring practices to mitigate problems before they happen. Vetting drivers carefully will quickly identify high-risk candidates, ensuring only the safest and most skilled drivers are behind the wheel.  

Navigating New Trucking Regulations

Don’t underestimate the power of advanced preparation. Dedicating time to explore all new trucking regulations the only way fleet managers can set their organizations up for ongoing success in the coming year. Luckily, we’ve done some of the heavy lifting for you. Watch our on-demand webinar, “Expert Perspectives: Navigating FMCSA’s Proposed Methodology Changes,” to explore the legal, insurance and employer implications of the new SMS methodology and subscribe to our blog to keep your finger on the pulse. 

fmcsa changes webinar  

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