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Road Rules

Government-enacted regulations on the trucking industry

ECN Traffic regs

Before partial deregulation of the trucking industry in 1980, regulations arising from the Motor Carrier Act of 1935 were mostly economic in nature.

These regulations allowed competing trucking companies to inspect each other’s rates so that all rates would meet the federal government’s standards. The enforcer of the 1935 Act, the U.S. Congress’ Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) — which was abolished in 1995 and replaced with another federal agency — also restricted who could work within the trucking industry.

It wasn’t easy for new firms to set-up shop. Driving jobs were often dominated by those in the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, according to Thomas Gale Moore in “Trucking Deregulation.” Additionally, the ICC heavily restricted which routes drivers could take and the type of material they could carry on the way to their destination and back.

The Motor Carrier Act of 1980 partially deregulated the trucking industry. It rid trucking companies of the economic inefficiencies caused by the 1935 Act. The 1980 Act also boosted competition within the industry. Many trucking companies spread their wings across the U.S. through mergers and acquisitions. They also expanded their routes to other states and eventually overseas.

Increased competition did lead to a portion of the largest trucking companies closing. These companies couldn’t compete in the landscape that resulted from partial deregulation.

Also, unions like the Teamsters no longer dominated trucking jobs. Therefore, non-union drivers and other trucking personnel entered the industry in masses. According to a 1988 Federal Trade Commission study, between 1980 and 1987, employment in the trucking industry rose from 1.368 million to 1.767 million.

In recent years, regulations on the trucking industry have often centered on safety – safety for truck drivers and other motorists as well as the environment we all live in.

Driver and Motorist Safety

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a U.S. Department of Transportation agency that regulates the trucking industry, imposed a 14-hour driving limit on truckers. After reaching their destination and having 10 consecutive hours off duty, truckers can then only drive for 11 hours. These regulations are meant to ensure drivers don’t fall asleep behind the wheel and injure other motorists.

On the other hand, these limitations have reduced the hours of operation for drivers, which might have also lessened their earnings potential. Earning less money than before may have led to a truck driver shortage, according to JOC.com — a leading news source that analyzes the global maritime and logistics sectors.

A smaller number of truck drivers on the road could also mean less staff available to transport exhibit freight to tradeshows.

To be qualified to work at a trucking company, drivers cannot have a history of sleep apnea, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Once hired, drivers must follow federal regulations regarding how to correctly strap freight to ensure it doesn’t come loose and injure anyone.

Protecting the Environment

To ensure that freight gets to a tradeshow on time and with no worries, some transportation companies have formed partnerships with other transportation companies. This may seem unusual for those outside the trucking industry – but these partnerships stem from some states restricting the types of vehicles that can enter their borders due to emissions concerns.

These vehicles may be quality in some ways but would require trucking companies to invest tens of thousands of dollars to ensure their entire fleet is up to a state’s standards. Therefore, these companies partner with other transportation companies that meet these standards.

California is often cited as having the most stringent regulations regarding emissions. Its government has already issued several ambitious executive orders to lower greenhouse gas emissions, with the most recent from Gov. Jerry Brown in April 2015.

In 2013, the California Air Resources Board passed a diesel emissions standard that affected more than 1 million trucks, according to Katherine Timpf for The Washington Times.

These vehicles were required to be retrofitted with new equipment to trap soot, ash and toxic metals as well as cut down on noxious emissions, according Forbes contributor Robert Bowman.

Bowman added that the consensus among truckers was that these regulations were too costly or impossible to comply with.

This year, President Barack Obama asked the Environmental Protection Agency to develop regulations for large trucks in a plan to curb carbon dioxide emissions. This plan too involves trucking companies having to further invest in their fleet to meet standards.

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