Legislative and Regulatory Issues

Dry Bulk Truck Loads Need a 10% Axle Variance

Present law limits the maximum laden weight of a commercial truck to 80,000 lbs. including the cargo. Bulk loads of dry goods rarely exceed the overall limits but they regularly shift during transport and cause the front trailer axle to exceed its maximum allowance. The law should account for this issue by granting a 10% axle variance for commercial motor vehicles transporting dry bulk goods. This would increase the maximum variance on any tandem-axle trailer but would leave the maximum limi untouched.

More information about a Dry Bulk Axle Variance.

A Tax on All of Trucking

Currently, there is a 12% excise tax imposed on the first-time purchase of commercial motor vehicle tractors and trailers, increasing the cost of new equipment significantly. This has caused America’s commercial tractor and trailer fleet to be increasingly older and slower to adopt new technologies, safety equipment, and cleaner and more efficient vehicles. The federal excise tax on these commercial motor vehicles should be repealed to allow for a more flexible, safe, and current fleet of commercial tractor and trailers.

More information on the Federal Excise Tax

The Lagging Fuel Tax

The United States federal tax on fuel, first passed in 1932, is the funding source for new highway and bridge construction projects. It isn't tied to inflation and has not been increased since 1993, which has caused its buying power to shrink. It currently isn’t capable of funding the infrastructure that the United States needs. To make the fuel tax into an adequate funding source for infrastructure projects, it should be increased by at least 10 cents per gallon and indexed to both inflation and improvements in vehicle efficiency so that funding cannot lag decades behind the times again.

More information on the Fuel Tax

Combatting Trucking's Workforce Shortage

Trucking’s driver shortage already exceeds 50,000 drivers. To grow the industry’s workforce, a wide mix of solutions is required. First, we need programs that allow current driver trainees to speedily obtain commercial driver’s licenses. We can safely reduce the minimum CDL testing age by adopting common sense legislation like the Drive Safe Act (H.R. 1374/S. 569), which allows 18 to 20 year-olds to engage in interstate commerce under a new graduated CDL program. FMCSA’s pilot program to allow 18-20-year-olds with military drivers operate in interstate commerce mandated by the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act is a step in the right direction. FMCSA should consider expanding this pilot project to include all 18 to 20 year-old drivers. By their 21st birthday, an individual can be well on their way towards being an electrician or a plumber. That same individual would only be eligible to start their first day at truck driving school.

More information on the Workforce Shortage.

HazMat Truck-Rail Grade Crossing Stopping Requirements Must Change

According to the Federal Railroad Administration’s Office of Safety Analysis, in 2018 there were 2,205 highway-rail grade-crossing incidents, resulting in 272 fatalities and over 800 injured persons. But, that alarming data isn’t capturing the entire picture. At many grade crossings, the real fatality risk is that a passenger vehicle driver dies when they rear end a commercial truck. If the two vehicles don’t encounter a train, then a highway-rail grade accident and/or death isn’t added to the record. Regulations require all trucks transporting hazardous materials to come to a complete stop at all highway-rail grade-crossings, regardless of whether a train is approaching the crossing. While this requirement makes sense in many urban and suburban areas, exurban and rural tracks often merely cross the road with only a sign marking them. In such areas, other drivers have no reason to expect a truck to stop, resulting in frequent collisions. hazmat trucks should be regulated like all other trucks at highway-rail grade crossings. Those trucks must still exercise a surfeit of caution, slowing down to cross and stopping for incoming trains. 

More information on HazMat Truck-Rail Crade Crossing Requirements.

Intrastate Hazardous Materials Carriers need Better Oversight

Intrastate hazardous materials carriers in 17 states operate with reduced oversight from the Department of Transportation and state agencies at roadside because they are not required to obtain USDOT numbers from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Because they lack USDOT numbers, they escape accountability through FMCSA’s SMS system and are more difficult for the Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to track. As part of their hazardous materials registration process, both interstate and intrastate motor carriers are required to register with PHMSA. Therefore, PHMSA should require carriers to provide a USDOT number when registering as a hazardous materials carrier.

More information on Intrastate Hazardous Materials Oversight.