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Bill Proposed to Fund Highways, Improve Trucking Safety

The trucking industry must comply with a multitude of complex rules and regulations to ensure safety on our nation’s roads. Recently, the Obama administration announced a proposal that would refine existing safety programs, as well as introduce new initiatives.

The GROW AMERICA Act is largely aimed at funding the repair and modernization of bridges and highways throughout the country, but several key elements relate directly to trucking regulations. One initiative would allow the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to issue a recall of Electronic Logging Devices, or ELDs, that are not up to standard. We discussed the pending ELD mandate in a previous post.

Another measure would require the FMCSA to disqualify a truck driver from obtaining a commercial driver’s license if the driver operated a truck after his or her CDL was revoked for traffic offenses committed in another vehicle. The minimum disqualification period would be a year. Negligent truck drivers are a threat to motorists in Illinois and throughout the country, and this particular measure is meant to give the FMCSA more authority to keep dangerous operators off the road.

The proposed bill would also give the FMCSA more discretion regarding safety audits and other enforcement methods. In particular, the agency would be more flexible in deciding if safety audits are warranted for new entrants. The FMCSA says that audits are less effective than other means of ensuring safety.

Another initiative would authorize the elimination of the self-insurance program for carriers. The FMCSA has said that carriers’ self-insurance does not increase road safety, and only about 50 carriers currently benefit from the program.

Under the GROW AMERICA Act, funding for the large-scale repair and modernization of roads would derive from an adjustment to the tax code. In particular, corporate taxes would provide about $150 billion to the Highway Trust Fund. In all, the bill would distribute $302 billion for building projects, programs and other measures over the course of four years.

Along these same lines, the House and Senate are reportedly preparing their own legislation.

Source: Truckinginfo.com, “Obama Administration Weighs In with Highway Bill,” Oliver Patton, April 30, 2014

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