On Friday, U.S. House Democrats introduced a sweeping infrastructure bill with both good news and bad news for the trucking industry.
On June 4, Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio introduced the “Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation in America (INVEST in America) Act,” a $547 billion surface transportation reauthorization bill.
The bill contains multiple measures that will impact the trucking industry, including:
Major Investment in Safe Truck Parking
The five-year bill would provide $1 billion “for a grant program to address the shortage of parking for commercial motor vehicles to improve the safety of commercial motor vehicle drivers.”
Skyrocketing Minimum Insurance Requirement for Motor Carriers
While the major investment in safe truck parking would be a huge boon for the trucking community, the legislation also includes a controversial measure to “increase the minimum amount of insurance required for commercial motor vehicles from $750,000 to $2 million, and directs this amount to be adjusted for inflation by FMCSA every five years.”
OOIDA has been sounding the alarm about the possibly devastating consequences that the insurance requirement increase could have for small trucking companies. “Everyone knows this increase will do absolutely NOTHING to improve safety on our highways and will destroy small trucking businesses,” said Todd Spencer, President and CEO of OOIDA. “What good is a highway bill when it does more to support the unbridled greed of trial lawyers than truckers?”
Truck Leasing Task Force To Fight Predatory Practices
The bill would also create a “Truck Leasing Task Force” to “examine common truck leasing agreements, and the terms of such agreements, available to truck drivers, including port drayage drivers specifically. The Task Force shall also examine the impact of truck leasing agreements on the net compensation of drivers, and resources available to assist drivers in assessing the impacts of leasing agreements.”
Automatic Emergency Braking On New Trucks
The highway bill would require that “newly manufactured heavy-duty commercial motor vehicles to be equipped with an automatic emergency braking system, and [would] require that systems installed in such vehicles be in use during operation.”
Sleep Apnea Screening Requirement
The bill would require that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) create a rule to establish screening criteria for obstructive sleep apnea among commercial vehicle drivers.
Dig Into Driver Detention Times
This would require officials to begin collecting data on how long drivers are detained at shippers and receivers, and to create a rule within a year to establish limits on the amount of time that a driver may be reasonably detained, unless compensated for the time.
Establish “Broker Guidance”
The bill would appear to address recent complaints about freight brokers by ordering the DOT to issue guidance to clarify the definitions and roles of brokers and bona fide agents and requiring the Secretary to consider the impact of technology and the role of dispatch services in the freight transportation industry.
Create a Women of Trucking Advisory Board
This provision would direct the FMCSA to create a ‘‘Women of Trucking Advisory Board’’ to encourage organizations and programs that provide education, training, mentorship, or outreach to women in the trucking industry; and recruit women into the trucking industry.
Other provisions of note for trucking included in the bill include a possible underride guard mandate, the return of CSA scores to public view, the limiting of personal conveyance, and increased funding for highway construction.
While OOIDA acknowledges that the highway bill has many positive provisions for trucking, the group says that the insurance increase forces them to oppose the entirety of the legislation. “Increasing minimum insurance requirements from $750 thousand to $2 million on the heels of a major economic disruption will be nothing short of disastrous for many small motor carriers and owner-operators,” Spencer continued. “If the economic impacts of COVID-19 didn’t destroy their businesses, Congress will by enacting this catastrophic policy.”
The bill will be considered during a markup on Wednesday, June 9.