Trucking Regulation Update: Winds of change?

One of the biggest myths in trucking is that it’s a completely deregulated industry. It’s true that, economically, it has been deregulated in interstate commerce since the Motor Carrier Act of 1980, but it remains one of the most tightly regulated sectors in areas of safety, environmental pollution, driver standards and other areas of societal concern.

However, since the installment of Donald Trump as the nation’s 45th president two years ago, the winds of regulatory change have blown in favor of trucking following eight years of what industry leaders claimed was one of the harshest regulatory environments in trucking’s 100-plus year history.

“This administration is looking at the regulatory environment a bit differently,” says Mark Rourke, executive vice president and COO of Schneider, the nation’s secondlargest truckload (TL) carrier. “We’re not seeing a lot of activity with new regulations.”

Others agree. Myron Shevell, chairman of the Shevell Group, parent of Eastern Freightways and New England Motor Freight, says that he’s known Trump for perhaps longer than anybody in the industry. A fellow New Yorker, Shevell calls the president “a good friend” who knows the business of trucking well.

“He has certainly made regulations at least tolerable.” No matter how bothered truckers are by what they perceive as excess regulation, shippers ultimately pick up the tab of any additional costs by their carriers, of course.

So, as we approach what could be the midpoint of the Trump presidency, Logistics Management takes a deeper dive into the currently regulatory landscape that might be good for safety and the environment, but could put the brakes on trucking productivity and continue to pump up your rates.

The big three

The three biggest regulatory hurdles currently facing trucking are the enforcement of electronic logging devices (ELDs), the further tweaking of driver hours of service (HOS), and the move to allow a pilot program of only 200 drivers under the age of 21 into interstate commerce—an age-group that has been locked out of driving the big rigs since the Motor Carrier Act of 1935.

So far this year, the biggest issue for shippers has been the lost productivity due to the full enforcement of the ELD rule. This rule is designed to eliminate cheating on driver HOS through the elimination of paper log books in favor of electronic devices that are difficult to evade.

After months of issuing warnings, state enforcement personnel began issuing stiff fines for HOS violations last spring. The result, executives say, is between 3% and 8% lost productivity due to the elimination of cheating.

“It’s a good thing for the industry,” says Rourke. “It has gotten many of the bad actors to become more efficient with their driving time.”