The owners of small and medium-sized trucking businesses are constantly looking for ways to maintain a competitive edge in the transportation and logistics industries. However, complex federal regulations in regard to anything from highway safety to worker training often present substantial obstacles to business growth. With the help of an advanced fleet management software program, owners can easily transform the compliance process from a complex chore into a simple task that has no detrimental effect on overall business operations.
The trucking industry is already full of many complex regulations. According to Fox Business, many small-businesses took a hit earlier this year when the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) introduced new "hours of service" rules that limit the possible workweek for truckers and drivers of heavy-duty vehicles to 70 hours, down from 82. Employees who complete 70-hour schedules involving two separate 1 a.m. to 5 p.m. time shifts must also now receive a 34-hour re-start period before driving again.
Dave Osiecki, vice president for safety policy at the American Trucking Association (ATA), toldFox Business transitional costs for complying with these new rules have amounted to a total of $320 million. Other forms of either state or federal regulation can have exaggerated effects on small and medium-sized fleet operations. Because of the complex nature of the overall trucking industry, rules are often difficult to incorporate into existing practices.
"Trucking is harder to regulate than most industries," Henry Jasny, vice president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, a national alliance of health and safety groups, as well as insurance companies, told Fox Business. "Most freight moves location to location on the back of trucks, but it's a very varied industry; drivers are not always doing the same thing week to week, or the same schedule."
Diesel regulations from the EPA
Another regulatory measure introduced in recent years has to do with the efficiency of diesel engines. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) explained on its website the agency reauthorized the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) in 2011 through fiscal year 2016. As a result, fleet owners have the opportunity to apply for grants and loans from the federal government if they retrofit their current vehicles to perform with greater fuel efficiency.The online publicationTrucking Info reported the agency is now offering $2 million rebates for construction fleet owners who invest in equipment that significantly reduces the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced during operations. The monetary rewards for this process present an attractive incentive. However, completing large-scale maintenance on trucks without interrupting business operations can be an especially challenging task for smaller organizations.
A looming OSHA training deadline
Regulations impact fleet owners in other ways as well. A separate article for Trucking Info said Dec. 1 represents the deadline for complying with a new training rule from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) about communicating chemical hazards in the workplace. The publication said the federal government recognizes diesel fuel as a hazardous chemical, which means heavy-duty fleet managers must post proper signage on trucks and in other areas throughout the workplace. Businesses that fail to implement these measures face a minimum $5,000 fine.
Working with diesel fuel on a regular basis can be a challenging process. In addition to complying with regulations in regard to hazard communication and emissions control, fleet owners can invest in advanced maintenance software programs to limit the amount of difficulty involved with updating existing vehicles with new equipment. Compliance with safety and environmental rules is a given in the trucking industry. However, the right technology will ensure businesses feel as little of a strain as possible on their day-to-day operations.