By: Allan M. Siegel
The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, a five year,
long-term bill that is slated to be the last highway bill, has just been
signed into law by President Obama only hours away from the scheduled
expiration of the nation’s road and transit spending. This new law,
which will be paid for with tax revenue and approximately $70 billion
in offsets of the federal budget, will call for spending $48 billion on
transit projects and another $205 billion on highways over the course
of the next five years. This is the first time since 2005 that Congress
has approved a transportation funding bill lasting longer than two years.
What Changes Will the New Law Make?
Approval of the bill has resulted in the following changes:
Commercial truck & bus driver drug testing reform. Motor carriers will be allowed to change how their drivers are tested
for drugs. Under section 382.301 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
(FMCSA) Safety Regulations, urine is used to test for drugs, but there
is currently no standard published by the Department of Health and Human
Services (DHHS) for hair testing. The DHHS will be required to produce
new guidelines within 12 months.
CSA system changes. The Safety Measurement System (SMS), which provides data regarding the
Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program to the public, will no
longer be available for public viewing. Passage of the bill would require
the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the FMCSA to work
together to identify the failings of the ranking system and resolve them
before making them available again to the public.
Changes to the FMCSA rulemaking process. The new highway bill would require the FMCSA to include a “regulatory
impact analysis” for all new rules, meaning that the FMCSA must
examine how the new rules affect different sizes and types of carriers.
This analysis must be completed together with commercial motor vehicle
(CMV) operators and/or motor carrier representatives who may be impacted
by the rule change.
Required liability insurance increase study. The FMCSA will be required to conduct a study of carrier liability insurance
mediums, which must be completed before implementing a new rule to raise
them. Currently, the minimum insurance required for general freight haulers
Military service veterans entry into the trucking industry. The bill would allow former military personnel with experience handling
machinery comparable to a bus or heavy truck to use their experience toward
obtaining a Commercial Driver’s License. Military driving experience
would count toward skills and driving tests, making it easier for veterans
to access a civilian CDL truck operator job. Additionally, instead of
having to obtain medical certificates from the FMCSA’s National
Registry of Medical Examiners, they could instead obtain them from Veterans
Affairs (VA) doctors.
In addition to changes made in the
trucking industry, the legislation allots $835 million in annual funding for improving
biking and pedestrian infrastructure over the next two years. The funding
will increase to $850 annually for the next three years. The FAST Act
Read more about this new law online via
This Legislation effects the safety of our roadways for motorists, bicyclists,
and pedestrians. While there are many of the aspects of the law that we
do not approve of (removal of safety data from public viewing, and the
requirement of extra hurdles before minimum insurance rates can be raised),
it does in some respects make our roadways safer. Despite this law, the
threat of negligence still exists. That’s why our Washington, DC
personal injury and trucking lawyers at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata &
Siegel, P.C. are always available to help victims and families who suffer
losses in preventable accidents. If you have questions about your case
contact us for a free case review.