If you work in the trucking industry, you know that new legislation and changes in the Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations are not uncommon. And, 2020 is no exception. There are several new DOT requirements that go into effect this year. They will impact truck drivers, owner-operators and small fleet managers. Therefore, here are five new DOT regulations that could affect your trucking business in 2020.

Full Implementation of ELD Rule

The electronic logging device (ELD) mandate went into effect in 2017. However, trucks with older Automatic Onboard Recording Devices (AOBRDs) received an additional two years to switch over to ELDs. In 2020, all commercial trucks must use ELDs to track drivers’ hours of service (HOS). Many drivers are concerned that the ELD mandate will decrease their productivity and flexibility, causing them to make less money. However, using ELDs in your trucks can actually make your life easier. Electronic logging devices sync with the truck’s engine and automatically track driving hours. Additionally, it tracks the total number of miles driven in each jurisdiction and state. This can be extremely helpful for International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) purposes. Also, an ELD can take the guesswork out of your IFTA tax reporting and payments. It makes the whole IFTA process far less complicated and time-consuming. 

Proposed Changes to Driver Hours of Service

To help offset some of the challenges posed by the new ELD mandate, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is considering implementing changes too. This would change the hours of service regulations for truck drivers operating in interstate commerce. These proposed HOS changes would do the following:

  • Add two more hours to the adverse driving conditions exception,
  • Allow a single off-duty break to extend the 14-hour on-duty window,
  • Extend the on-duty period for short-haul drivers from 12 hours to 14 hours. Also, change the distance limit from 100 miles to 150 miles,
  • Allow any 30-minute period of non-driving time to count towards the required 30-minute rest break, and
  • Allow drivers to split the required 10-hour off-duty period into seven hours in the sleeper berth and three hours either off duty or in the sleeper berth.

FMCSA Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse

The FMCSA has implemented a new online database. It identifies commercial truck drivers with prior drug and alcohol violations in every state. Furthermore, beginning this year, trucking companies are required to populate the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse database with employee DOT drug and alcohol violations. The purpose of the database is to prevent drivers who are fired for drug or alcohol use from getting a job with a different carrier. Therefore, each state will be tracking drivers’ prior violations. 

New Overtime Laws

A new DOT law went into effect on January 1, 2020. It lowers the threshold for workers to qualify for overtime pay. It increases the standard salary level for full-time workers. Under the law, anyone who earns less than $35,568 per year (previously $23,660) is considered “non-exempt”. Therefore, they are entitled to overtime pay. These DOT requirements won’t necessarily affect truck drivers who are paid by the mile. However, they could have an impact on trucking businesses with office staff. Under these new regulations, the DOT estimates that an additional 1.3 million workers will be newly eligible for overtime pay. 

Entry-Level Driver Training

New DOT requirements for 2020 include updated entry-level driver training rules. Per these new rules, the FMCSA will require drivers to complete a comprehensive training program to qualify for a Class A or Class B Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). The new entry-level driver training rule went into effect on February 7, 2020. Additionally, the program consists of 31-course topics and 19 behind-the-wheel skills.

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