MAP-21 Regulations Have Wide-Ranging Impact on Trucking Industry

By David Fierro

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Earlier this month, regulatory changes affecting the trucking industry associated with last year’s MAP-21 transportation legislation went into effect.

The changes range from revisions to penalty amounts for violations of various regulations to out-of-service provisions to enforcement on foreign drivers.

FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro said the new federal transportation legislation and the ensuing regulations give her agency more tools to regulate the industry. “MAP-21 strengthens the ability of FMCSA investigators to take necessary and appropriate actions to protect innocent lives. We will not allow the safety of the traveling public to be compromised by an unsafe commercial truck or bus company.”

The changes are effective as of Oct. 1. The agency set a deadline of Dec. 2 for petitions for review of any or all of the changes.

Below is a breakdown of the key regulation changes from MAP-21 that affect the trucking industry.

Freight Policy

MAP-21 establishes a new National Freight Network and requires DOT to create a national freight plan.  The freight plan is to include an assessment of the condition and performance of the national freight network and identification of highway freight bottlenecks.

Truck Size and Weight

The law does not include an increase in size and weight limits other than an increase in allowable weight for idling reduction devices from 400 pounds to 550 pounds.  The law requires USDOT to conduct a comprehensive size and weight study that is due in two years. MAP-21 also allows states to issue 120 day oversize-overweight permits to trucks responding to disasters if a national emergency is declared. 

Electronic Logging Devices

The law requires DOT to establish regulations mandating electronic logging devices (EOBR’s) for motor carriers currently required to complete paper logs.  The regulations must be in place within one year and carriers will have two years thereafter to adopt/install the devices.

34-Hour Restart Study

The law required DOT to complete a field study by March 31, 2013 of the efficacy of the changes to the hours of service 34-hour restart provision that went into effect in July 2013.

Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse

MAP-21 requires DOT to establish a clearinghouse to capture drivers’ positive drug/alcohol test results and records of refusals to test within two years.  Motor carriers will be required to query the clearinghouse when screening new driver applicants and annually thereafter.  Third-party service agents will be permitted to conduct these inquiries on behalf of motor carriers.

Employer Notification Systems

Within one year, FMCSA must establish standards for state systems that automatically notify motor carriers of drivers’ moving violations and other driver record changes (e.g., suspensions).  Motor carriers may use these systems to meet the current annual motor vehicle record review requirements.  Within two years, FMCSA must develop recommendations and a plan for implementing a national system to perform these functions.

New Entrant Testing and Audits

DOT must require motor carriers entering the industry (new entrants) to complete a proficiency test on the safety regulations and to complete a DOT safety review within 12 months (the current deadline is 18 months).

Crashworthiness Standards

MAP-21 includes language directing DOT to study the need for crashworthiness standards for large trucks, including an evaluation of the need for roof strength, pillar strength, air bags, and other occupant protection standards, as well as frontal and back wall standards.

Transportation of Agricultural Commodities and Farm Supplies

MAP-21 clarifies movement of farm supplies under the agriculture exemption to the hours of service rule from a terminal or distribution point to the retail site or farm.  The language also increases air mileage from 100 to 150 and eliminates “in the state” from the language, making it an interstate issue.

Truck Parking

Funding for truck parking is eligible under MAP-21, but the law eliminates a pilot program which set money aside for truck parking projects.  It also requires a study to determine the extent and location of truck parking shortages.

Broker Bond

MAP-21 increases the broker bond to $75,000 and applies it to freight forwarders.  It also tightens requirements on bonding companies to respond to carrier claims.

The regulation change that increased the minimum bond requirement from $10,000 to $75,000 has proven to be one of the more controversial.

The change in bond requirements has pitted small brokers and independent sales agents against the larger mega brokerages.