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New Administration, New Trucking Regulations

As the new administration settles in the White House, a host of new regulatory agendas is on the horizon. In the trucking industry, Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg, and acting administrator of FMCSA, Meera Joshi, will be responsible for shaping the future regulations. While Buttigieg and Joshi appear to be hesitant in immediately enacting a complete regulatory overhaul in an industry already on the ropes from the COVID-19 pandemic, we can expect the new administration to be more regulation-friendly than the prior.

For example, the Biden administration has already flagged a prior hours of service (“HOS”) rulemaking from FMCSA finalized in June 2020. The June 2020 rule established relatively flexible exceptions to the HOS regulations including:

(1) The Short Haul Exception—expands exception from 100 air miles to 150 air miles and allowed a 14-hour work shift to take place under the exception;

(2) Adverse Driving Conditions Exception—expands the window for two additional hours and changes the definition of adverse conditions to be more flexible; and

(3) 30 Minute Break Requirement—only requires a 30 minute break after eight hours of driving time rather than on duty time and allows on-duty/non-driving time to qualify as 30 minute break.

While these exceptions have been in effect since September 29, 2020 and have an estimated $277 million in regulatory cost savings, there is no guarantee that these flexible regulatory exceptions will be preserved as the new administration sets its agenda. Some other potential changes include raising liability insurance by millions, requiring some tractor-trailers to be equipped with speed limiters, further emissions regulations, and stricter employee classification regulations.

Though the administration is cognizant of the COVID-19 hardships that carriers and drivers are already facing, as the waning pandemic invites more and more vehicle traffic the prospect of new and stricter regulations is likely.

The attorneys of Poole Shaffery & Koegle, LLP remain ready and prepared to assist and advise you on all your legal needs in the transportation industry.