Trucking group pushes Congress toward more mandates

The Trucking Alliance, a confederation of predominantly large trucking companies such as J.B. Hunt, U.S. Xpress, Knight Transportation, Swift and Maverick, among others, is urging Congress to pass new mandates in an effort to improve safety and reduce the rising truck crash fatality rate.

First on their list, and a previous high priority, is a requirement for driver applicants to be screened for the presence of drugs using a hair sample test versus the current urine test requirement.

The group believes hair tests are more reliable in determining whether a driver applicant has used illegal drugs recently. The group points to the increased use of opioids, which cannot be detected in a urine test after a few days, whereas hair screening can detect opioid use from the prior 90 days. The U.S. Department of Transportation added four common opioids—hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone and oxycodone—to its drug-testing panel for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers last year.

The Alliance is also advocating for a national speed limit of 65 mph and for mandatory speed limiters. Other initiatives include:

  • Prohibiting drivers under age 21 from operating interstate.
  • Mandating collision mitigation systems, such as active braking systems.
  • Requiring lane departure warnings as standard equipment.
  • Increasing the minimum insurance requirements.

The Trucking Alliance also advocates for the development of automated truck technology, so long as deployment of such technology aids drivers and keeps them safer during the course of their work.

The coalition is urging Congress to include these mandates in next year’s surface transportation reauthorization bill. While trucks are not buses, the bus industry is a frequent victim of mandates trying to fix a trucking problem.

UMA is seeking passage of legislation that will compel a separate analysis for passenger carriers when rulemaking includes both trucks and buses.

Operators often view new rules and more mandates as something that originates with “those bureaucrats in Washington,” and sometimes that is true. However, the majority of the time new rulemaking usually originates within the industry, often under the disguise of leveling the playing field or sometimes seeking competitive advantage.

In the coming weeks you will see the effects of UMA leadership as the association stakes out its position on a number of fronts. Meanwhile, we view the Trucking Alliance’s positions with abundant caution.

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