Essential Trucking Regulations to Watch in 2024
 Logistics

Essential Trucking Regulations to Watch in 2024

Mark Anderson
Mark Anderson
February 12, 2024
Last updated on:

February 12, 2024

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Read time: 6 mins

In 2023, the trucking industry saw significant regulatory changes affecting transportation and logistics. This included several key regulations that came into effect, impacting operations, safety standards, and compliance requirements. From emissions regulations to hours-of-service rules, stakeholders navigated a dynamic regulatory environment through innovative solutions.

As we are in 2024, it is crucial for trucking companies and industry observers to stay abreast of the evolving regulatory landscape. Anticipating and understanding the upcoming changes is essential for maintaining compliance, optimizing operations, and ensuring the overall efficiency of the supply chain.

This blog delves into the essential trucking regulations that demand attention in 2024, exploring their implications on operations, compliance, and more.

According to the American Trucking Association (ATA), there were approximately 8.4 million individuals engaged in roles associated with trucking activity within the economy in 2022.

Must-Know Changes in the Trucking Regulations

1. Updates to Cross-Border Shipping Protocols

One of the key areas witnessing significant updates is cross-border shipping protocols. As global trade grows, regulatory adjustments are implemented to enhance efficiency, security, and compliance. 

Cross-border shipping now demands a more detailed and advanced submission of customs data. Trucking companies must be well-versed in the specific data elements required for customs clearance. Adhering to these updated data requirements facilitates smoother border crossings, minimizes delays, and ensures compliance with international trade regulations.

The trucking industry is significantly influenced by changes in customs and trade agreements between nations. Regular updates to these agreements can impact tariffs, taxes, and licensing requirements. Staying informed about the evolving trade landscape helps trucking companies optimize their routes and strategies for cross-border shipments.

The transition towards digital documentation and paperless processes is gaining momentum in cross-border shipping. Governments and regulatory bodies are motivating the adoption of electronic paperwork to reduce paperwork errors, improve record-keeping, and expedite customs clearance processes.

California Air Resources Board (CARB) 2024 Compliance
Image 1 - California Air Recourses Board (CARB) 2024 Compliance

2. FMCSA Safety Measurement System (SMS) Updates

At the forefront of this transformation lies the revamped SMS, a pivotal regulatory framework shaping the safety standards for commercial transportation.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, called FMCSA, has recently unveiled a comprehensive set of proposed updates, marking a paradigm shift in its approach to safety measurement. These changes, numbering nine in total, reflect a commitment to enhancing the efficacy and accuracy of the SMS. Here are some key highlights that illuminate the potential impact of these alterations:

Reorganized BASICs and Introduction of New Safety Categories:

One of the standout modifications is the reorganization of Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories or  BASICs. This includes the introduction of new safety categories such as 'unsafe driving' and 'vehicle maintenance.' This shift aims to provide a more nuanced evaluation of carrier safety performance by dissecting critical aspects of operation.

Restructuring Roadside Violations:

The FMCSA has undertaken the monumental task of reclassifying the myriad roadside violations that currently exist – a staggering 950, to be precise. Through this overhaul, these violations will be streamlined into 116 distinct groups, simplifying the categorization process and making it more manageable for both regulators and carriers alike.

Simplified Severity Weights:

The conventional 1-10 severity scale is being replaced with a simplified scoring system. Carrying either a score of 1 or 2, this streamlined approach is designed to eliminate ambiguity and provide a clearer indication of the severity of violations. This shift not only facilitates a more straightforward understanding of infractions but also aids in prioritizing corrective actions.

Heightened Focus on Recent Violations:

Recognizing the significance of real-time safety data, the FMCSA is placing a greater emphasis on carriers that have received violations within the last 12 months. This temporal focus ensures that recent safety performance is given due consideration, enabling more proactive interventions and fostering an environment of continuous improvement.

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Read our blog, ‘A 6-step Guide to Create an Effective Supply Chain Management Plan,’ to learn about ways to craft a supply chain management plan.

3. The Electronic Logging Devices (ELD) Mandate

The Electronic Logging Devices (ELD) Mandate, implemented in December 2017 by the FMCSA, has brought about a fundamental shift in how drivers record their hours of service (HOS). The mandate requires commercial motor vehicle drivers to use ELDs to electronically record their driving hours instead of relying on traditional paper logbooks.

Key Features of ELDs:

  • Automated Logging: Automatically record driving time, engine hours, vehicle movement, and other relevant data, eliminating the need for manual entries. This feature ensures accurate and tamper-resistant logs, reducing the risk of HOS violations.
  • Real-Time Tracking: Provide real-time visibility into a driver's activities, enabling fleet managers to monitor and manage their drivers' schedules more efficiently. This not only improves operational efficiency but also enhances overall fleet safety.
  • Universal Connectivity: Designed to be compatible with various vehicle makes and models, promoting standardized data collection across the industry. This universal connectivity streamlines regulatory compliance and data sharing between drivers, carriers, and enforcement agencies.

4. Detention Pay Reforms

Detention Pay Reforms in the trucking industry have undergone significant changes in recent years, reflecting a growing acknowledgment of the challenges faced by truck drivers during loading and unloading times. The shift began gaining momentum in 2018, with increased attention to the issue of driver detention and its impact on efficiency and driver well-being.

As trucking stakeholders recognized the need for reform, subsequent years saw a surge in discussions and advocacy efforts. In 2020, the FMCSA took steps to address this concern by requesting public input on the impact of detention time on safety and productivity. This initiative marked a pivotal moment, paving the way for potential regulatory adjustments.

In 2022, the agency introduced Detention Pay Reforms aimed at incentivizing timely loading and unloading, ensuring fair compensation for drivers for extended wait times. These changes not only alleviate financial strains on drivers but also contribute to a more streamlined and efficient trucking industry.

Basic Compliance Standards in the trucking industry
Image 2 - Basic Compliance Standards in the trucking industry

5. Drug Testing Policy Enhancement

FMCSA has played a central role in shaping and enforcing drug testing policies for commercial drivers. The Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, implemented in January 2020, laid the foundation for comprehensive tracking and reporting of drug and alcohol violations among commercial drivers. However, recent regulatory updates have brought about enhancements to these policies, aiming to strengthen safety measures further.

Key Changes in Drug Testing Policies:

  • Expanded Panel of Substances: One notable enhancement in drug testing policies is the expansion of the panel of substances screened for in a driver's system. While traditional tests primarily focused on commonly abused substances, the updated policies now include a broader spectrum of drugs, keeping pace with evolving patterns of substance abuse.
  • Random Testing Frequency: To maintain a proactive approach in identifying and deterring drug use among commercial drivers, regulatory changes have increased the frequency of random drug testing. This shift aims to create a more robust deterrent effect, discouraging drivers from engaging in substance abuse due to the higher likelihood of being subjected to unannounced testing.
  • Clearer Protocols for Post-Accident Testing: In the event of a transportation-related accident, the updated trucking regulations provide clearer guidelines for post-accident drug testing. This ensures that any potential impairment is thoroughly investigated, helping authorities determine the role of substances in the incident and taking appropriate actions to prevent future occurrences.
  • Stricter Reporting Requirements: Enhanced reporting requirements mandate motor carriers to promptly submit drug and alcohol testing results to the Clearinghouse. This real-time reporting system improves the efficiency of monitoring and intervention, allowing for swift identification of drivers with substance abuse issues.

6. Emission Standards

The trucking industry has undergone a transformative shift in response to stringent emission standards. In 2007, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) initiated the Clean Diesel Program, steadily raising standards, culminating in the 2021 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards Phase 2. These regulations target a substantial reduction in pollutants, promoting sustainability.

In a groundbreaking move, a December 2022 EPA ruling mandates stricter standards for trucks from the 2027 model year, surpassing previous limits by 80%. This update, the first in two decades, signals a potential 1.5 to 2.5 times increase in vehicle lifespan, emphasizing a commitment to lower emissions.

California, a trailblazer in environmental initiatives, will introduce noteworthy changes in 2024. From January 1, all drayage trucks should be registered mandatorily in the California Air Resources Board (CARB) Online System. Only zero-emission drayage trucks can register after this date, aligning with California's goal to make all drayage trucks emission-free by 2035 and proposing a broader shift to zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty trucks by 2040.

7. Mandatory Speed Limiters

In the past decade, the trucking industry has witnessed a series of regulatory shifts, with one notable change being the enforcement of Mandatory Speed Limiters. Data from the Department of Transportation (DOT) reveals a growing focus on enhancing road safety. In recent years, incidents involving commercial vehicles exceeding safe speeds have prompted increased scrutiny. Notably, in 2018, there were over 4,000 fatal crashes involving large trucks, raising concerns about the need for stricter speed regulations.

This fall, a redacted DOT report created a stir, initially suggesting a 68 mph speed limit on interstates and highways for commercial vehicles. Despite some backtracking, the DOT confirmed ongoing evaluations, with an official proposal expected on December 29, 2023. The proposed regulation is anticipated to mandate speed limiters for vehicles manufactured after 2003 weighing 26,000 pounds or more. This development aligns with the industry's broader commitment to improving safety standards and minimizing accidents, providing a glimpse into the evolving landscape of trucking regulations.

8. Skills and Competency Standards

Beginning in 2020, regulatory bodies such as the FMCSA have taken bold strides to bolster safety and efficiency on the roads.

One pivotal change revolves around the implementation of mandatory entry-level driver training (ELDT) programs. Since 2020, aspiring commercial drivers are now required to undergo standardized training, ensuring a baseline of skills crucial for safe operation. This regulation aims to reduce accidents, enhance driver preparedness, and ultimately elevate the overall safety standards within the industry.

Furthermore, ongoing updates to the Commercial Driver's License (CDL) requirements have been introduced, emphasizing continuous learning and skill refinement. The industry now sees a phased-in approach to CDL upgrades, ensuring that drivers acquire additional endorsements and expertise as their careers progress. This progressive approach, initiated in 2021, underscores the commitment to nurturing a highly skilled and proficient driver workforce. In 2024, aspiring truckers must undergo rigorous training covering essential topics such as safe driving practices, clear vehicle operation, and compliance with federal trucking regulations. 

How a Third-Party Logistics Partner Can Help You Meet These Regulatory Changes

A third-party logistics partner can play a crucial role in helping your business navigate and meet regulatory changes. Here are some ways they can assist you in this process:

Regulatory Changes Changes How Third-Party Logistics Partners Can Assist
Cross-Border Shipping Protocols Detailed and advanced submission of customs data
  • Expertise in navigating complex customs processes
  • Integration of electronic paperwork systems for seamless cross-border documentation
  • Stay abreast of evolving trade regulations and agreements to optimize routes and strategies
FMCSA Safety Measurement System (SMS)
  • Reorganized BASICs and new safety categories
  • Restructuring roadside violations
  • Simplified severity weights
  • Heightened focus on recent violations
  • Data analytics capabilities to monitor and interpret safety performance
  • Assistance in understanding and implementing changes to BASICs and safety categories
  • Streamlining compliance through real-time monitoring and reporting
Electronic Logging Devices (ELD) Mandate
  • Shift from paper logbooks to ELDs
  • Automated logging, real-time tracking, universal connectivity
  • Ensuring effective ELD usage and compliance
  • Ensuring standardized data collection for regulatory compliance
Detention Pay Reforms
  • Incentivizing timely loading and unloading
  • Fair compensation for extended wait times
  • Monitoring and optimizing loading/unloading processes
  • Providing real-time visibility into detention times for better planning and efficiency
Drug Testing Policy Enhancement
  • Expanded panel of substances screened
  • Increased random testing frequency
  • Clearer protocols for post-accident testing
  • Stricter reporting requirements
  • Keeping abreast of changes in drug testing policies and ensuring compliance
  • Streamlining reporting processes to meet stricter requirements
Emission Standards
  • Stricter emission standards, especially from 2027
  • California's zero-emission drayage truck mandate
  • Guidance on adopting environmentally friendly practices
  • Monitoring and ensuring compliance with evolving emission standards
Mandatory Speed Limiters
  • Proposed regulations for speed limiters on vehicles over 26,000 pounds
  • Advising on best practices for speed limit compliance
  • Monitoring and reporting on vehicle speeds to ensure adherence to regulations
Skills and Competency Standards
  • Mandatory entry-level driver training (ELDT) programs
  • Ongoing updates to CDL requirements
  • Ensuring drivers have the necessary skills and endorsements through ongoing education and training programs

Conclusion

Trucking companies are confronted with a myriad of regulatory changes, ranging from safety protocols to environmental standards, each carrying significant implications for operations and profitability. The complexities involved in interpreting and implementing these trucking regulations demand specialized expertise. A dedicated third-party service can provide invaluable support by offering comprehensive compliance solutions.

Invensis, a leading logistics and supply chain outsourcing company, stands at the forefront of providing specialized services tailored to the requirements of the trucking industry. Our comprehensive suite of services includes expert analysis and interpretation of the latest trucking regulations, enabling our clients to proactively adjust their strategies and operations. We go beyond conventional logistics support, offering a suite of services that encompasses supply chain management, freight forwarding, warehousing, and distribution.

Contact us for optimized logistics solutions and elevate your supply chain!

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