Delivering for Best-in-Class Wholesaler-Distributors
July 6, 2020

Throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s the Federal Government oversaw the sweeping deregulation of many industries across the United States. The Motor Carrier Act of 1980 allowed market forces, rather than overbearing regulations, to shape the trucking industry.

However, throughout the country, states began to pass their own regulations to oversee the industry – resulting in a patchwork of regulations that burdened interstate commerce. To counter this, Congress included language in the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1996 (FAAAA), which preempted states from enacting or enforcing policies “related to a price, route, or service of any motor carrier.”

The intent of Congress was clear in the legislation; however, several lower courts (most recently the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals) have failed to rule on cases in a manner that is consistent with the law. Because of these court rulings, and because the Supreme Court cannot address every case, new legislation is needed to clarify the original law.

In 2018, Congress passed a five-year Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization. Unfortunately, this legislation did not include NAW-supported language that would exempt carriers from complying with state regulations that require employers to provide paid meal and rest breaks to employees – as well as exempting carriers from compensating drivers beyond the industry-standard per-mile pay system.

In response to the language not being included in the legislation, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) submitted a petition to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requesting a determination that the State of California’s meal and rest break rules be preempted by Federal Law. NAW worked with ATA to submit comments of support for this petition and urged FMCSA to grant the preemption.

FMSCA announced its decision to support the ATA petition to preempt the State of California’s meal and rest break rules. FMSCA further elaborated by declaring that “California’s law is incompatible with Federal regulations and causes a disruption in interstate commerce. However, the International Union of Teamsters have filed suit challenging FMSCA’s decision. Click here to view NAW’s comments.

On May 14, 2020 the FMCSA announced a final rule that revises the current hours of service regulations. The final rule will:

  • Change the short-haul exception to 150 air miles and 14 hours on duty (increased from 12).
  • Extend the current 14-hour on-duty limitation by up to two hours when a truck driver encounters adverse driving conditions.
  • Revise the current mandatory 30-minute break for truck drivers after eight hours of continuous driving.
  • Reinstate the option for splitting up the required 10-hour off-duty rest break for drivers operating trucks with a sleeper berth.

The final rule goes into effect September 29, 2020.