If you listen to professional drivers in a truck stop or on a social media site, it won’t be long before they start complaining about one or more of the regulations affecting them on a daily basis. From electronic logging devices
to hours of service and drug testing clearinghouses, drivers are impacted by the rules that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) mandates.
The most common tirade by drivers is the inequality in the enforcement on commercial motor vehicles as opposed to their fellow “four-wheeler” drivers. “Why don’t they prohibit car drivers from talking on a cell phone?” or “Why don’t car drivers have to take drug tests
?” are frequent questions from these drivers.
The response is pretty simple, the FMCSA doesn't regulate automobiles, it was established to regulate commercial motor vehicles involved in interstate commerce. The administration was established in 2000 specifically to “reduce crashes, injuries and fatalities involving large trucks and buses.” They do not have any authority to pass laws involving automobiles. These rules are left to the individual states.
So, it doesn’t benefit anyone to keep pointing out the inequity in regulations focusing solely on our industry. However, instead of just complaining to a Facebook group or some colleagues in a truck stop, there are ways to be a part of the process.
First, if you see a safety violation, report it. You can call the DOT at 888-DOT-SAFT (888-368-7238) or via the FMCSA website. You can report anything regarding truck safety, from a termination for refusing to commit a violation, or deceptive business practices. They want to hear from you, but have your facts ready, with any photos to support your allegations.
Become a more informed driver. If you are thinking of switching to a new carrier check out their safety rating and crash history. There’s no charge to review the information.
If you want to be more informed about regulations that are currently being proposed, you will need to look at the Federal Register notices for proposed rulemaking. This site shows all of the documents being considered and the dates they were filed. You can click on the ruling and find the docket number and the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) identifier.
It would be beneficial to any professional driver to review these pages often, as the rumors related to many of these rules are inaccurate. You can find out the actual wording of a ruling that might affect you or your company. For example, you can find notices concerning waivers for drivers who have vision or hearing impairments or might suffer from epilepsy and seizure disorders. You’ll also find requests from carriers for the exemption of pre-employment drug testing using hair testing in place of the currently mandated urine testing.
If you care to make a comment about any of the published rulemakings, you can submit your comments (written and signed, so no anonymous submissions will be considered) to the U. S. Department of Transportation via the U.S. Postal Service (Docket Clerk, U.S. DOT Dockets, 1200 New Jersey Ave. SE, Washington DC, 20590) or file your comment electronically at www.regulations.gov.
You must include the docket identification number specific to the rulemaking. Users may locate any rulemakings published by the DOT by using the last four digits of the rulemaking docket ID number. Federal Highway Administration docket ID numbers are formatted as FMCSA-yy-XXXX. Use only the last four digits of the docket ID number when searching. For example, if the docket ID number is FMCSA-96-1234, search on 1234.
You can also find the rulemaking documents by those that are recently posted or those in which the comment period is ending soon.
If you would like to just check out the regulations and the FMCSA interpretations, you can find them listed by the “part” of the CFR that is relevant. For example, part 371 applies to brokers, 369 is about motor carriers and 374 is for passenger carriers only. You can also browse the page by U.S. DOT numbers or carrier name.
Instead of accepting your fellow driver’s views on a ruling that affects you, look up the proposal or regulation yourself so you have the facts. Better yet, become involved in the process and state your views with the DOT. After all, you are the group most affected by these regulations.
The next time you hear someone grumbling about the rules affecting professional drivers, tell them to direct their comments to the agency that creates and enforces them. It’s a lot more effective than complaining to each other.