On December 9, 2014, the U.S. Department of Transportation (US DOT) announced the publication of a final rule which will eliminate the need for commercial truck drivers to spend countless hours complying with a burdensome daily paperwork requirement, without compromising safety.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) estimates that commercial motor vehicle drivers spend approximately 46.7 million hours each year completing Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports (DVIRs). Eliminating DVIRs will save the trucking industry an estimated $1.7 billion annually.
Commercial truck drivers are required to conduct pre- and post-trip inspections of their vehicles to identify any safety defects or maintenance concerns. The final rule removes the requirement that drivers file a written or paper report for approximately 95 percent of inspections when no equipment problems or safety concerns are identified. Meaning that a written and signed DVIR is only required if and when a “safety defect or maintenance concern” is discovered by the driver during the walk-around inspections.
President Obama launched the Administration’s Regulatory Review and Reform initiative in January 2011 by issuing Executive Order 13563. The order commenced an unprecedented government-wide review of regulations with the goal of eliminating or modifying out-of-date, ineffective or overly-burdensome rules and reducing regulatory burdens on the private sector. (Apparently this doesn’t apply to CARB regulations).
In June 2012, FMCSA eliminated a comparable requirement for truck drivers operating intermodal equipment trailers used for transporting containerized cargo shipments. The cost savings to the intermodal industry was estimated to be $54 million annually.
The final rule, is on the Agency’s website (www.fmcsa.dot.gov), and was effective on December 18, 2014.
California Not Yet On-board
While this is the new federal regulation, companies may still choose for insurance reasons to continue to require their drivers to fill-out their DVIRs. It is just no longer required by federal regulation as long as no defects are found. The requirement to fill-out a DVIR form by an owner-operator driver was eliminated in 1998. While US DOT’s decision applies to all motor carriers engaged in interstate transportation, motor carriers with terminals located in California, including drayage operators at ports and rail-heads are subject to California state laws and regulations also. Specifically, the California Code of Regulations, Title 13, Section 1215, relative to vehicle condition inspections and reporting requirements, beginning with subsection (b) states:
(b) Daily Inspection. Pursuant to Sections 1202.1 and 1202.2, all drivers shall perform vehicle inspections and submit written reports in accordance with the requirements of Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, Sections 396.11 and 396.13, as follows (this language would likely have to be modified):
(1) Before driving a motor vehicle, the driver shall:
(A) Inspect each vehicle daily to ascertain that it is in safe operating condition and equipped as required by all provisions of law, and all equipment is in good working order;
(B) Review the last vehicle inspection report;
(C) Sign the report, only if defects or deficiencies were noted by the driver who prepared the report, to acknowledge that the driver has reviewed it and that there is a certification pursuant to subsection (f) that the required repairs have been performed. The signature requirement does not apply to listed defects on a towed unit which is no longer part of the vehicle combination.
Although changes in California requirements have not yet occurred as a result of the FMCSA Final Rule, CCTA and others have begun discussion with the CHP regarding implementation of the new requirements in California.
As a sidebar, CCTA annually sells 6,000 – 7,000 DVIR books to members at a very discounted rate. While the regulatory change could likely negatively impact DVIR sales, we did support the 1998 rule change and this change from the position of paper-work reduction and time savings for drivers and motor carriers, but we believe that the costs really do not out-weigh the safety benefits and potential indemnification that filled-out and signed DVIR’s provide.
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