The trucking industry is highly regulated by both federal and state governments. Each year, these regulations are updated to keep the nation’s highways safe for all travelers. It goes without saying that 2020 and 2021 have been unique for everyone. The shipping industry has not been immune to the challenges of the pandemic.

To discover how the last few years have impacted trucking regulations, keep reading. We’ll provide you with everything you need to know for 2021.

Changes to Driver Classification Laws

Driver classification laws will see a change going into 2022. On February 7th, entry-level driver training (ELDT) will be federally mandated for all new drivers. The goal is to ensure that only qualified and proven drivers get behind the wheel of commercial vehicles. 

If you fall into any of these categories, this mandate applies to you:

  1. You are obtaining a school bus, hazardous materials, or passenger endorsement for the first time
  2. You are upgrading from a Class B CDL to a Class A CDL
  3. You are applying for a Class A CDL or a Class B CDL for the first time

Keep in mind that the mandate is not retroactive. If you make any of these changes prior to February 7th, you are exempt from ELDT.

Changes to Insurance Liability

Despite pushback from major trucking associations, insurance premiums will likely increase in 2021. Currently, the federal liability requirement sits at a minimum of $750,000. 

Those regulations were set in the 1980s and have not kept up with inflation or modern medical costs. An increase in insurance liability could come as a blow to owner-operators. 

Changes to Speed Limiters

A potential change could be coming for speed limiters in 2021, as well. While no mandate has been set forth as of yet, conversations are ongoing at the federal levels. Early drafts of the mandate indicate that a limit could be set at 60, 65, or 68 miles per hour. 

Improved Investigations

The FMCSA has a new nominee as of April 2021, Meera Joshi. According to Joshi, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is rededicating itself to improving roadway safety. Specifically, she is targeting unsafe truckers.

Over the next few years, you can expect to see an increased focus on addressing unsafe behaviors. Joshi promises to keep a close eye on drivers and to perform extensive investigations when necessary.

Changes to Hours of Service

Hours of service laws were updated in 2020 and remain in effect through 2021. These rules are designed to keep truckers well-rested and alert so that they can avoid accidents due to drowsy driving. 

The shipping demands of the pandemic put stress on many drivers. The new hours of service laws seek to address these challenges. 

Here is what changed in 2020:

  • A short-haul exception that allows for a 14-hour work shift
  • An adverse-weather exception that expands the work shift window by two hours
  • 30-minute break requirements for every eight hours of driving time

These regulations are designed to give truckers greater flexibility while practicing safe driving.

Changes to Emission Regulations

In August, the Environmental Protection Agency announced plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the trucking industry. Over the next three years, you can expect to see more specific regulations that will begin to take effect in the model year 2027.

Keep Up to Date on Regulations 

If you are an owner-operator or have been injured in a trucking accident, you might have questions about 2021 regulations. Remember that these requirements are put in place to keep our roads safe.