The Number 1 Resource for Vocational Truck Fleets

Chatty Chassis

Navigating Changing Regulations

February 28, 2017

by Lauren Fletcher - Also by this author

One thing fleet managers can count on: ever-changing regulations that relate to the work truck fleet industry. These changes are not only numerous but can be confusing and result in violations and fines when not followed.

“Changes are evident in the industry for commercial drivers and vehicles. This is not going to stop or slow down as regulatory agencies look for every opportunity to make trucks safer for drivers and the public,” said Don Scare, CTP, senior consultant Truck Excellence at Element Fleet Management.

How to Stay Up-to-Date

So, how do fleet managers stay up-to-date with changing regulations?

First, use your available resources, including your fleet management company or telematics solutions providers.

“Depending on the variables of the fleet and amount of time required to manage all the details, it may be of best interest to rely on your fleet management provider. They can delve into the details so you don’t have to,” said Dan Shive, vice president of risk management services for LeasePlan.

Cheryl Horn, director fleet resources for Merchants Fleet Management, agreed that utilizing your FMC contacts can be helpful.

“For truck fleet managers to stay well-informed of the regulatory landscape, we recommend they remain in contact with their fleet management company or compliance partner who specializes in staying ahead of the ever-changing laws and regulations. It is also important to regularly check partner and industry websites for whitepapers and articles that may highlight upcoming changes,” she said. 

Scare of Element also recommended using the Internet for continued research.     

“For one, monitoring the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and state websites for monthly changes in regulations can help, as well as reading professional periodicals. Additionally, consider becoming a member of professional organizations related to your field,” Scare recommended.

Beyond regulatory sites and periodicals, don’t forget about available news aggregators.

“Enroll in news groups. As an example, Google offers the subscriber the ability to sign up for notification anytime a keyword or company is in the news.  Also, the FMCSA is a very active group.  Trucking groups offer updates, Driver groups, American Trucking Association, California Trucking Association, etc.,” said Laura Hopewell, regulatory compliance manager for Donlen.

Subject-matter experts are going to be one of your best resources.

“I recommend using your network contacts. When I attend any trade show I am continually networking with other attendees gather updates on what their concerns are over upcoming regulation changes and how they feel it will impact their operations as well as projected financial impact,” Hopewell added. “When attending trade shows, I choose to attend presentations based on the background and knowledge level of the speaker. I introduce myself after the presentation and request information on future contact and if they have a mailing list or some kind of update they publish. Usually, the presenter will offer responses to future questions or inquiries.”

How to Navigate Regulations

Now that you are aware of the regulations that may impact your fleet operation, the next step is taking action. This cannot be done if you are unable to understand and navigate the regulations efficiently.

“Educate your teams, and clearly define administrative accountability,” recommended Scare of Element. “In addition, embrace technology. Proactively manage your CSA profile and conduct regular mock audits and compliance reviews.”

To best navigate regulations, partnering with subject-matter experts can be extremely helpful.

“The best way for fleet managers to navigate the regulation changes and stay on top of the new technology is to partner with experts in the field.  There are many intricate details of the regulations that can impact fleets in different ways so it is important to have a partner that understands the details of the regulations as well as the specifics of your fleet.  Having a partner that understands both the regulation and your fleet will ensure you are properly prepared based on the idiosyncrasies of your fleet from all sources such as the FMCSA, AAMVA, and the DOT,” said Horn of Merchants Fleet Management.

In addition to subject-matter expert partners, take a look at trade groups for the industry.

“Larger groups will have judiciary watch news updates. This is vital to ensure your understanding of the regulations and how they fit with your industry and company. Each industry has known publications that are the Go-To for the latest information, examples are Aggregate, Medical Waste, Hospital Safety, Food Grade Products, Fuel, Railroad Transport, etc.,” said Hopewell of Donlen. “Also, participate in Trucking Association groups in your home base jurisdiction and get to know state legislators for local regulatory changes.”

Regulations to Know About

A short list of regulations truck fleet managers should keep on their radar and do some more research into include:

  • The electronic logging device (ELD) mandate.
  • New requirements for FMVSS 111: Rear Visibility.
  • FMCSA minimum training requirements.
  • Phase 2 GHG regulations.
  • Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse final rule.
  • Safety fitness rule.
  • Medical Exemptions.
  • CSA and Data-Q.

Stay in Compliance

In the end, changes to regulations are at least something fleet managers can count with some regularity, so putting practices in place to stay up-to-date is one important key to success.

“With the ever-changing regulations, it is best practice to get a second opinion, even if you think the regulation does not include you. Many times, there are increased GVW that may put vehicles in your fleet into the HOS regulations that may not have applied in the past.  By partnering with an expert, they can audit your pre-employment practices, driver files, safety processes, and audit needs to ensure your fleet is within all of the regulations,” said Horn of Merchants Fleet Management.  

Don’t wait until the last minute to comply with regulations you know will impact your operations.

“Be proactive, not reactive! The ELD mandate, for example, goes into effect Dec. 18, 2017. Begin working with your fleet management company today to prevent your drivers from being placed out-of-service during a roadside DOT inspection,” said Shive of LeasePlan.

Knowing where your fleet stands in terms of compliance is important. 

“Set up a plan to review the company data listed in the Department of Transportation’s Safety Measurement System (SMS), at least on a monthly basis. This will allow fleet managers to stay ahead of compliance issues that could result in potential fines and audits. In addition, the SMS can show trending areas of deficiency fleet managers can focus on to improve the safe operation of the company,” said Jason Rudinoff, regulatory compliance analyst, safety specialist for ARI.

Implement a plan to ensure compliance, inform drivers, and stick to it.

“One of the biggest things I see fleet managers struggle with is having a plan in place to manage driver vehicle inspection reports (DVIRs) and getting their drivers to do them. By implementing a plan and getting drivers in a regular routine of doing them, companies can reduce their exposure during roadside inspections. Each year there are about 3.5 million inspections being performed with a 20% average vehicle out-of-service rate. This is an alarmingly high number that can immediately be reduced by a better focus on DVIRs,” Rudinoff said. “As existing regulations are updated and new regulations are added, it is important to review your company policy to ensure that these items are included.”

In the end, educate yourself and stay aware.

“Attend training, a number of publications offer re-training sessions just for reviewing a product, these groups provide an excellent opportunity to hear what is trending within the industry and network with new contacts,” said Hopewell of Donlen. “Network, Network, network — stay connected to colleagues within the industry.”

What are you doing to stay up-to-date on changes and ensure your fleet remains in compliance?

E-mail me, let’s chat!

[email protected]

 

 

Comment On This Story

Name:  
Email: (Email will not be displayed.)  
Comment: (Maximum 10000 characters)  
Leave this field empty:
* Please note that every comment is moderated.

Author Bio

sponsored by

Lauren Fletcher

Executive Editor

Lauren Fletcher has been covering the fleet industry since 2006 and is currently the Executive Editor of Work Truck Magazine. Over the past 10 years, Fletcher has written and edited for Automotive Fleet, Fleet Financials, Government Fleet, Green Fleet, Vehicle Remarketing, and Business Driver magazines. A hot rod enthusiast from a young age, Fletcher has a fascination with cars and a love of trucks, from the classics to the new releases.

» More

FleetFAQ

Fleet Tracking And Telematics

Todd Ewing from Fleetmatics will answer your questions and challenges

View All

 

Fleet Management And Leasing

Merchants Experts will answer your questions and challenges

View All

 

Sponsored by

In the USA, a tax assessed by some states either on a lump-sum basis for a purchased vehicle or on a periodic basis on rental payments in the case of a leased vehicle.

Read more