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    The 2024 Guide to Fleet Compliance

    In a time when fleet compliance is more important than ever, some fleets find Department of Transportation (DOT) specific requirements to be confusing and hard to deploy. As with every government mandate, there will often be areas that are unclear or confusing. This is no different for fleet managers who are looking to not only be compliant, but also want to make sure that they are road-ready and able to pass DOT inspections in 2024, especially when inspectors arrive unannounced.

    While the DOT is lenient in helping fleets get up-to-speed on areas where they may fall short, there can also be expensive fines and complete shutdowns of operations if violations (such as HOS violations) are not rectified in a timely manner. Knowing your options surrounding fleet compliance is key to success going into 2024.

    Fleet compliance 2024: be ready

    As the DOT is continually updating requirements, it’s imperative that your fleet is ready to comply with new regulations that take effect as early as January 1, 2024. For example, in 2023, employers needed to begin checking the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Clearinghouse for a new hire’s drug and alcohol violations and safety performance history going back three years. However, there were still specific cases, especially for non-CDL drivers, that needed a manual process for reaching out to prior employers.

    For 2024, the DOT will publish a final rule requiring state driver licensing agencies to “implement a system and practices for the exclusively electronic exchange of driver history record information through the Commercial Driver’s License Information System, including the posting of convictions, withdrawals, and disqualifications.”

    The rule aligns FMCSA’s regulations with existing statutory requirements set forth in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP21). The rule also establishes August 22, 2024, as the date by which states must be in substantial compliance with this final rule.

    Overwhelmed yet? Yes, these kinds of regulations can create headaches if you aren’t ready to embrace what’s coming. However, there are services, tools, and solutions that help make the process easier.

    As of this writing, new DOT fleet compliance FMCSA Readiness Standards for 2024 include:

    1. Pollution standards affecting commercial vehicles: While this new standard includes all vehicles on the road, this will affect commercial vehicles substantially for the first time in 20 years. Buses, heavy-duty vehicles, and tractor trailers, for example, will be required to dramatically lower their pollution levels.

      The last update to truck emission standards by the federal government was in 2001 when the Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.) required commercial trucks to cut emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) by 95% over 10 years. According to the E.P.A., that rule contributed to a 40% drop in national NOx emissions.

      In 2022, the E.P.A. announced a three-year Clean Trucks Plan that aims to set forth a series of regulation changes that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants from heavy-duty trucks. A zero-emission heavy equipment industry is the ultimate goal, and while this goal has been set, there is an easing into regulations that fleets should be aware of if they are to remain compliant and fine free.
    2. Bus accessibility: The DOT will be adopting new accessibility guidelines for buses and vans under 36 CFR 1192.
    3. Fines: The DOT will make an annual adjustment to its fines (civil penalties) for inflation.
    4. Broker/freight forwarder insurance: The FMCSA will be raising the financial security amount for brokers and, for the first time, establishing insurance rules for freight forwarders.
    5. Fleet recordkeeping: The FMCSA intends to propose changes to the record retention rules in Appendix A to Part 379 to remove overlapping and unnecessary requirements.
    6. Unified registration system: The FMCSA plans to update the Unified Registration System (URS) and the agency's procedures for granting, suspending and revoking registration as required by Congress.

    FMCSA rules and regulations under consideration for 2024 (no implementation dates yet set)

    • Replacing rear view mirrors with cameras
    • Removal of the rules governing drivers’ employment applications
    • Updates to the “tank vehicle” definition to clarify the need for a tank endorsement
    • A requirement for straight trucks to be equipped with improved rear underride guards and/or reflective tape
    • Rules to require side underride guards on trailers

    State specific mandates must also be considered for DOT compliance

    Carriers who have operations in the state of California must also be aware of new rules and regulations that apply to any commercial vehicle that conducts fleet-related business in the state.

    CARB 2024 compliance

    The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has set forth a group of rules and regulations that have tiered implementation dates. The following are important CARB regulations for 2024 and beyond:

    1. 2024-2026: For state and local government fleets, 50% of fleet vehicle purchases must be zero emission vehicles (ZEV) or near-zero emission vehicles (NZEV) (i.e. hybrids with a minimum all-electric range).
    2. Starting January 1, 2027: All state and local government fleet purchases must be ZEV or NZEV.
    3. Beginning in 2026: 50% of large and 25% of small transit agency new bus purchases must be zero-emission buses.
    4. Beginning 2029: 100% of transit agency new bus purchases must be zero-emission buses, with a goal of transitioning to a 100% zero-emission bus fleet by 2040

    Preparing for 2024 compliance

    While this may seem overwhelming and almost impossible to comply with, keep in mind that there are great services and software that can help manage responsibilities. To familiarize your fleet with the most important aspects of DOT compliance, we’ve put together a reminder of the most important technologies and regulatory aspects your fleet should abide by as of this writing.

    What is a DOT regulated vehicle?

    DOT regulations cover a wide range of safety and compliance aspects, including:

    These regulations are in place to reduce the risk of collisions and ensure the integrity of the transportation industry.

    Typical examples for vehicles that fall under DOT regulations include:

    • Commercial trucks: This category includes tractor-trailers, delivery trucks, and other large commercial vehicles used in the transportation of goods. Vehicles are subject to regulations regarding weight limits, vehicle maintenance, driver qualifications, and hours of service.
    • Commercial vehicles: Various other commercial vehicles, such as vehicles used for hazardous materials transport, are subject to DOT regulations to ensure the safety of the cargo and the environment.
    • Buses: Buses used for commercial transportation, such as public transit buses, charter buses, and school buses are subject to DOT regulations to ensure passenger safety.
    • Passenger vehicles: Some passenger vehicles, like limousines or vans used for commercial transportation, may also fall under DOT regulations, especially if they are used for hire or to transport passengers for a fee.

    What are the FMCSA compliance rules?

    The core DOT compliance FMCSA rules apply to commercial motor vehicle operations in the United States, so it’s important for fleet operators and drivers to adhere to these rules to ensure the safety of the public, protect the environment, and avoid legal penalties and fines. Specific requirements can vary based on the type of operation and the state or federal jurisdiction in which the vehicle operates. Staying informed about the latest regulations that apply to your specific circumstances is essential.

    Use the following guide to understand what kinds of rules and regulations and areas of concern the DOT imposes on commercial vehicles

    1. Driver qualifications: DOT regulations establish criteria for driver qualifications, including age, licensing, medical examinations, and driver training. Commercial drivers are required to possess a valid Commercial Driver's License (CDL) and meet specific medical and safety requirements.
    2. Drug and alcohol testing: DOT mandated drug and alcohol testing programs for commercial drivers to ensure they are not operating under the influence of controlled substances or alcohol.
    3. Recordkeeping: DOT regulations often require the maintenance of records, including driver logs, vehicle inspection reports, and other documentation to demonstrate compliance with various rules.
    4. Hazardous materials: Regulations exist for the safe transportation of hazardous materials, including proper labeling, packaging, placarding, and driver training. Special endorsements on a CDL may be required to transport hazardous materials.
    5. Weight limits: DOT regulations establish weight limits for commercial vehicles to protect roads and bridges from excessive wear and damage.
    6. Hours of service: Hours of service, or HOS regulations, govern the number of hours that commercial drivers can operate their vehicles and require rest periods to prevent driver fatigue. These rules aim to reduce the risk of accidents caused by tired or overworked drivers.
    7. Environmental regulations: For vehicles that emit pollutants, such as diesel trucks, there are emissions standards to reduce their environmental impact. Compliance with emissions standards may involve using cleaner fuels or retrofitting older vehicles with emission control devices.
    8. Vehicle maintenance: Commercial vehicles must be regularly inspected and maintained to ensure they are in safe working condition. This includes inspections of brakes, tires, lights, and other critical components.
    9. Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs): ELDs are now required for most commercial drivers to record their hours of service electronically, replacing paper logbooks.
    10. Vehicle inspections: Commercial vehicles may be subject to roadside inspections by law enforcement or DOT officers to ensure compliance with safety regulations.

    FMCSA DVIR requirements

    With safety as the governing tenant of the FMCSA, regular inspection of fleet vehicles is an important requirement. These inspections, known as DVIRs (Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports) help ensure that commercial vehicles are in safe and proper working condition before they begin operation.

    Hence, it’s important for drivers and motor carriers to follow FMCSA DVIR requirements to ensure the safety of commercial vehicles, compliance with regulations, and to prevent accidents caused by mechanical failures or safety issues.

    Key requirements and aspects of FMCSA DVIR requirements

    • Pre-trip inspection: Before a commercial vehicle is driven each day, the driver is responsible for conducting a pre-trip inspection. This inspection should cover various components of the vehicle, including brakes, tires, lights, steering, suspension, and more. Detailed requirements for pre-inspection must be documented whenever a vehicle is deployed whether it is currently being used for commercial purposes or simply being moved from one location to another.
    • Post-trip inspection: At the end of the workday or trip, all drivers are required to perform a post-trip inspection. This inspection is similar to the pre-trip inspection, with the aim of identifying any issues that may have arisen during the vehicle’s route.
    • Defect reporting: If a defect is identified that could affect the safety of the vehicle, the driver must report it to the carrier immediately. The carrier is then responsible for addressing the defect and making necessary repairs.
    • Three-part DVIR: The DVIR typically consists of three parts: Part 1 - Driver's Vehicle Inspection Report, Part 2 - Driver's Certification of Repairs, and Part 3 - Carrier's Certification. Part 1 is completed by the driver and includes details of any defects found. Parts 2 and 3 involve the carrier's and driver's certifications regarding repairs and maintenance. It is critical that the driver, fleet manager, and maintenance teams work together to make sure that all inspection details are in compliance and thoroughly recorded.
    • Retention of DVIR records: Completed DVIRs must be retained by the motor carrier for a specific period of time, typically for at least three months. They should be readily available for inspection by authorized personnel, such as DOT inspectors or law enforcement officers. Properly completed DVIRs serve as a critical piece of documentation to demonstrate compliance with FMCSA regulations. Failure to complete and retain DVIRs can result in penalties and violations.
    • Corrective actions: The carrier is responsible for ensuring that any defects noted in the DVIR are repaired promptly. The driver should not operate the vehicle if the defect poses a safety risk until it has been addressed.

    Fleet compliance software and services

    Fleet compliance can sometimes be overwhelming, especially with the large number of solutions, software, and services in the market to lessen fleet managers’ workload. These devices are designed to help organizations manage and maintain compliance with various regulations and standards governing the operation of commercial vehicle fleets. When used correctly, they’re great at helping companies streamline processes, improve safety, and reduce the risk of non-compliance.

    Electronic options allow the many tasks required to remain fleet compliant to be immediately recorded and stored in a safe and secure way.

    Implementing the right combination of tools and services helps organizations maintain a high level of compliance, improve safety, and streamline their fleet operations.

    What kinds of software solutions are available?

    The specific software and services a fleet may need will depend on its size, operations, and the regulations it must comply with. Below are some examples of software solutions available to both streamline fleet compliance and manage greater fleet needs in general.

    1. Fleet management software: Fleet management software provides tools for tracking and managing all aspects of fleet operations, including vehicle maintenance, fuel management, driver scheduling, and more. It can also include compliance features to monitor safety and regulatory compliance.
    2. Driver management software: These solutions focus on driver qualification, training, and monitoring. They help ensure that drivers meet regulatory requirements, such as licensing, medical exams, and drug and alcohol testing.
    3. Vehicle inspection and maintenance software: This software assists in scheduling and tracking vehicle inspections, maintenance, and repairs. It helps ensure that vehicles remain in safe operating condition and meet regulatory standards.
    4. Hazardous Materials (Hazmat) compliance software: Hazmat compliance software is essential for organizations transporting hazardous materials. It assists with proper classification, packaging, labeling, placarding, and documentation of hazardous materials shipments in compliance with regulations.
    5. Drug and alcohol testing management: These solutions manage drug and alcohol testing programs for drivers in compliance with FMCSA regulations. They track testing schedules, results, and documentation.
    6. Telematics and GPS solutions: Telematics systems provide real-time data on vehicle location, speed, and driver behavior. They can also monitor vehicle diagnostics and provide valuable insights for compliance and safety management.
    7. Compliance reporting and analytics: These software tools generate reports and analytics related to compliance, allowing organizations to monitor and demonstrate adherence to regulations.
    8. Road-side inspection solutions: Roadside inspections help ensure fleet vehicle health and proper load securement to protect not only commercial drivers, but everyone else on the road.
    9. Weigh station bypass software: While weigh station bypass screening systems do not replace physical inspections, they are a valuable tool for commercial vehicles to have in their arsenal. By transmitting data to determine a truck’s ability to bypass, eligible drivers can potentially save valuable time and fuel expenses incurred in long lines.
    10. Electronic DVIR: Electronic DVIR tools enable drivers to electronically submit pre-trip and post-trip inspection reports, making it easier to identify and address vehicle defects promptly.
    11. Regulatory consulting services: Consulting firms specializing in transportation regulations provide expertise and assistance in navigating complex compliance requirements, conducting audits, and developing compliance strategies.
    12. Training and education services: Training providers offer courses and materials to educate drivers and fleet managers on regulatory compliance, safety practices, and best practices.
    13. Safety and compliance auditing services: Third-party auditing services assess a fleet's compliance with various regulations and provide recommendations for improvement.
    14. Insurance and risk management services: Insurance and risk management companies offer services to help fleets manage insurance requirements and mitigate risks associated with non-compliance.

    Types of trucking compliance software

    Trucking compliance software solutions vary in features and complexity, so it's essential to choose the ones that best suit your specific needs and comply with the regulations relevant to your operation. Many software providers offer integrated suites that combine multiple functions to streamline overall trucking compliance and management.

    DOT Compliance issues that can be covered by software

    1. Dispatch and routing software: This software helps with load planning, route optimization, and real-time tracking of shipments. It ensures that trucks are dispatched efficiently and follow the most cost-effective routes.
    2. Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs): ELDs are a great example of an electronic way of tracking activity and maintenance issues with fleets of all sizes. These devices, mandated by the FMCSA, record a driver's hours of service (HOS), negating the need for paper logbooks. They also help ensure compliance with HOS regulations and prevent driver fatigue.
    3. Safety and compliance software: This type of software assists with safety compliance, including tracking vehicle inspections, managing driver training and certifications, and ensuring compliance with federal and state regulations.
    4. International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) software: IFTA software automates the process of calculating and reporting fuel taxes across multiple jurisdictions. It helps trucking companies manage and submit their tax reports accurately.
    5. International Registration Plan (IRP) software: IRP software simplifies the process of registering and renewing commercial vehicle registrations for interstate carriers. It ensures compliance with state and provincial requirements.
    6. Permit and licensing software: Trucking companies often require permits and licenses for various routes and types of cargo. This software streamlines the permitting process and keeps track of necessary documents.
    7. Document management software: Managing and storing documents such as bills of lading, invoices, and other paperwork is crucial in the trucking industry. Document management software helps digitize and organize these documents for easy retrieval and compliance purposes.
    8. Fuel management software: Fuel management software helps trucking companies monitor fuel consumption, optimize fuel purchases, and track fuel tax credits, leading to cost savings and compliance with fuel tax regulations.
    9. Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) software: EDI software facilitates electronic communication and data exchange between trucking companies and their customers, partners, and regulatory bodies, streamlining administrative processes, and improving compliance.
    10. Safety Management System (SMS) software: SMS software monitors and improves safety performance by tracking and analyzing safety-related data, including accidents, incidents, and driver behavior.
    11. Drug and alcohol testing software: For companies subject to drug and alcohol testing regulations, this software assists in managing and documenting drug testing programs and compliance with federal mandates.
    12. Load board software: Load board software connects carriers with shippers and brokers to find available loads. It helps optimize routes and manage the logistics of finding and booking loads.
    13. Insurance and claims management software: This software helps manage insurance policies, claims, and documentation related to accidents and incidents, ensuring compliance with insurance requirements.

    Lytx understands your fleets DOT compliance challenges

    For more than 25 years, Lytx® has helped fleets like yours stay compliant with the ever-changing rules of the transportation industry. Our suite of products includes solutions for a well-rounded DOT compliance plan for fleet safety, fleet tracking, asset tracking, ELD compliance, DVIR, and more. Our experienced team stays abreast of new FMCSA DOT rules and regulations that will affect fleets of all sizes in 2024 and beyond and will be here to help you understand and navigate what’s coming in the new year.

    To connect with a Lytx representative to discuss your fleet’s most important needs and how we can help your fleet be road ready in 2024, contact us today.