Industry update: Flexible Sleeper Berths, ELDs in North America, and Electric Trucks

Did you Know?
The first Hours of Service rules were proposed in 1935 but were not adopted until 1939.

Regulations
For the third straight legislative session, the U.S. Congress is seeking to unify all truckers under Federal Hours of Service regulations instead of just interstate drivers. Other provisions within the legislation would not require carriers to pay drivers anything more than their per-mile wages.

Flexible Sleeper Berths Comments Sought
The FMCSA is looking for input on a flexible sleeper berth pilot program. Comments need to be received by August 28th. If you would like read the proposal, you can find it here, or to comment, you can do so here.

ELDs North (and South) of the U.S.
Mexico and Canada are prepping for changes to their hours of service regulations and possible adoption of ELDs as well. Canada has been talking about the idea of adopting ELDs but openly stated they wanted to see what happened with the ELD mandate in the U.S. By playing the waiting game, Canada will seek to adopt wording similar—if not exactly the same—as the mandate in the U.S. The idea behind this is to remove some of burden international drivers and carriers have due to multiple pieces of equipment or by having to remember how each nation differs.

The bigger story is Mexico. Well known to have few if any regulations surrounding hours or service and no mention of ELD units until now. Mexico is looking to make their trucking industry more of a player in the Southwest but cannot do so because the FMCSA has been hesitant to extend that olive branch. While the FMCSA has opened up to some domiciled in Mexico, they have made the regulations very tight and strict including Level 1 inspections every 90 days. If the trucking shortage in the US continues, we could see carriers domiciled in Mexico playing a larger role in the US, especially in the Southwest.

Technology in the Industry
Much ado has been made about the industry being slow to adopt technology, but this is a notion that should be put to rest. More truckers than ever are searching for loads on their smartphones, using dispatching software, filing sharing, and tackling many other day-to-day activities electronically. Moreover, owner-operators are increasingly placing orders for electric trucks. As the price of diesel continues to increase, owner-operators still need make ends meet, and electric vehicles become appealing. And since many electric truck companies are also including maintenance cost in their lease agreements, you can increase your margins if the price of the vehicle is right. Based on the response by fleets of all sizes, the electric vehicle could become a factor in the trucking industry sooner than expected.

There was plenty of other information rolling through this week. Hear something we should know about? Email us at mailbag@truckstop.com.

Regulatory Affairs Analyst Jeremy Feucht follows the latest political and legislative processes, along with their potential effects, on the trucking industry. He has worked in the U.S. Senate and has served as a member of Planning and Zoning, City Council, and Urban Renewal boards.