4 new trucking laws you need to know for 2021

January 4, 2021 Casey Nighbor

A new round of laws and regulations went into effect in 2020 and have the potential to create ripples in the trucking industry. Here are four regulations changes occurring now.

1. Hours of Service (HOS) Changes

Hours of service are regulations designed to eliminate drowsiness in truck drivers that led to crashes.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has approved changes to the hours of service (HOS) regulations. These changes are intended to improve driver flexibility while still promoting and ensuring safety. The regulations changed rules around short-haul exceptions, adverse driving conditions exception, break requirements and sleeper berth provisions.

These changes went into effect on September 29, 2020.

Read more about what changed with the HOS changes here.

2. Greenhouse gas standards

The regulation, Phase 2 of the Heavy-Duty Greenhouse Gas and Fuel Efficiency Standards, is a comprehensive set of engine and vehicle standards jointly adopted by the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to promote the use of technology to reduce GHG emissions and improve vehicle fuel efficiency. The rule set three stages for model-years 2021, 2024, and 2027.

These regulations apply to both medium-duty vehicles and heavy-duty trucks. They may cause a temporary cost spike in tractors and trailers due to the new standards. However, the EPA claims the fuel savings will pay for themselves in 2 years.

3. COVID-19 sick leave changes

States, counties and cities across the United States are implementing paid sick leave laws, designed to ensure that workers have the ability to take sick days without losing pay and without any adverse action taken against them.

With the onset of COVID-19, there have been even more paid sick leave laws put into place, both permanent and temporary.

Colorado, New York, Puerto Rico and Washington D.C. have passed new laws for sick leave. California passed a new statewide supplemental paid sick leave law and 9+ California cities and counties have their own new paid sick leave laws due to COVID-19.

All expand the definition of who is eligible and why leave can be taken, while some now require new postings at job sites and branches to notify associates of how, when, and why they can take paid sick leave.

4. AB5

Assembly Bill 5 or AB5 makes it harder for companies to label workers as independent contractors in the state of California.

This new law does not just apply to Uber and Lyft drivers or office workers brought on as independent contractors. It also drastically impacts the way the trucking industry in California operates.

The new law assumes workers are employees. To prove otherwise, the hiring company has the burden of demonstrating that the worker meets a very specific test.

On November 4, 2020, Proposition 22 passed in California, stating that drivers for Uber and Lyft can be considered independent contractors. The passage of Prop 22 means that rideshare companies while be exempt from the strict classifications of AB5. 

Later, on November 19, 2020, a California Court of Appeals ruled that the law governing the hiring of independent contractors was not preempted by a federal law called Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act. While this is not a final ruling about the future of trucking in regards to AB5, it is a setback in the fight for a trucking exemption.

Follow updates about AB5 and the trucking industry here.

Want to learn all the new and continuing compliance regulations for 2021? Download our free 2021 Compliance Guide here.

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