2023 Policy Action Items for the Trucking Industry

It’s the start of a new year, and with it comes some ambitious changes in transportation safety. The Biden administration kicked off 2022 by introducing an extensive plan aimed at reducing accidents involving cars and trucks. As we begin this new year, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and Congress are expected to advance regulatory and legislative policies that will directly or indirectly attempt to tackle this issue.

Here are a few things on the list for 2023.

Truck Parking
After two congressional sessions of growing support for legislation that would expand truck parking, the Senate introduced a companion bill in December. While the bills will have to be reintroduced, this is good news for truck parking advocates, including small and large carriers, shippers, and other supply chain participants that are hopeful we can build on the recent progress going into 2023.

Broker Oversight
The FMCSA is taking action to combat illegal brokers by introducing guidelines aimed at distinguishing between brokers, bona fide agents, and dispatch services. Congress has given the organization a deadline of June 16th to finalize these guidelines, with an additional task: pinpoint any safety risks associated with unlawful brokerage activities.

Speed Limiters
In 2022, the FMCSA issued a notice of intent to proposed electronic engine devices to set and limit truck speeds in 2023. The notice of intent alone generated more than 15K responses, most of which came from independent owner-operators and small trucking companies voicing their fear that accidents will increase as a result of varying speeds between cars and trucks. Conversely, larger carriers and some safety groups seemed to support a 70mph limit. This topic has definitely sparked some debate and will continue to do if the proposal is made in 2023.

Autonomous Trucks
While FMCSA has a long-awaited proposed rule on automated driving systems (ADS) tentatively on its calendar for January, industry insiders believe the date will pass without a Federal Register notice. If the January date comes and goes, it is expected that rulemaking covering how ADS affects truck operations, inspection, repair, and maintenance is expected to happen at some point in 2023.

Overtime Pay
A set of companion bills in the House and Senate, the Guaranteeing Overtime for Truckers Act, expired before the new session of Congress opened yesterday. This legislation would require trucking employers to comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act and pay drivers overtime, from which they are currently exempt. This legislation remains a priority for OOIDA and is backed by the Biden administration which recommended repealing the FLSA exemption in a supply chain vulnerability report released in 2022.

Truck Size and Weight
For shippers and carriers such as UPS and FedEx, increasing federal truck size and weight limits has been a priority for years. A renewed push on this front is expected in 2023. Consumer Brands Association in conjunction with other organizations are proposing a 10-state pilot project to allow trucks of heavier weights to operate on the federal interstate system within those specific states. This proposal comes hand-in-hand with many carrier partners wanting to reduce emissions, as they feel heavier, more efficient trucks could help decrease the release of harmful gases.

Restroom Access
The idea behind the recently introduced Bathroom Access Act was inspired by legislation passed in Washington state in 2022. The bill aims to add language to federal law which would require businesses and ports to make their restrooms available to truckers. While this is a given for some shippers, a lack of access persists within the industry. OOIDA says this issue will remain one of the organization’s top priorities in 2023.

Wireless IDs
The FMCSA plans to follow up on a controversial proposed rulemaking requiring all trucks to be outfitted with a unique ID with the goal of making inspections more targeted and efficient using wireless technology. This rulemaking, however, has faced widespread backlash from trucking industry professionals due to security concerns and potential added costs based on over 1,000 initial responses. Moreover, FMCSA’s consideration of allowing the new ID system to broadcast information such as hours-of-service compliance or medical certification messages could have far reaching impacts.  One respondent suggested this action could lead to a “disastrous toll” citing concerns that making such sensitive information public could be a massive turn off to prospective drivers.

Infrastructure Funding
Grant funding from the bipartisan infastructure bill signed in 2021 will continue to benefit the trucking industry in 2023 as supply chains continue to strengthen following the overwhelming effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Industry experts believe we will continue to see funding for projects designed to alleviate backlogs particularly at ports, since easing supply chain congestion at a single port provide benefits far beyond that port.