While the White House and Congress try to hammer out an infrastructure and jobs bill, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee approved the Surface Transportation Investment Act of 2021. This bill would spend $78 billion over five years on surface transportation programs and includes $13 billion on safety initiatives. Overall, this would be a significant increase over the previous reauthorization (the FAST Act) in 2015.
Some key safety measures related to trucking are:
- Automatic emergency braking (AEB): ATA was successful in helping to craft compromise language on AEB. If passed, this language would require the Secretary, within two years after enactment, to require AEB on new heavy-duty CMVs, and operators to use these systems. Requires a study within two years of enactment on the effectiveness of AEB for collision avoidance and the costs, feasibility, and benefits associated with installing it on other CMVs with a GVWR above 10,000 lbs.
- Underride guards: This language would direct further study and research of side and front underride guards rather than industry-wide mandate requiring their use. In addition, the language would direct the Secretary, within one year, to strengthen rear underride guard standards, conduct additional research on their effectiveness, and amend periodic inspection standards.
- Electronic logging device (ELD) oversight: Requires the Secretary to submit a report to Congress outlining how DOT intends to protect proprietary and personally identifiable information obtained from ELDs and report how operators can challenge or appeal violations issued by FMCSA that occur as a result of ELDs.
- Marijuana-impaired driving: Requires states that have legalized marijuana to consider programs to educate drivers on the risks associated with marijuana-impaired driving.
- Enforcement reviews: Requires the Secretary to establish a process to review each out-of-service order and imminent hazard determination.
- CMV crash causation study: Requires the Secretary to conduct a comprehensive study of the causes and contributing factors to heavy vehicle crash causation. This effort is already underway at FMCSA.
- Distracted driving: Improves programs addressing distracted and impaired driving.
The Surface Transportation Investment Act also includes an amendment that would support a DOT younger driver pilot (New York just passed a similar pilot program). The legislation does not include an arbitrary increase to minimum insurance requirements, nor does it include provisions relating to speed limiters, hours-of-service reforms, or returning CSA scores to public view.