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Short-Haul Delivery Operations Getting FMCSA Attention

If your company conducts local deliveries — even with small, unregulated trucks — more government oversight could be in your future.

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Daren Hansen - Sr. DOT Editor - J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.

March 22 , 2021

If your company conducts local deliveries — even with small, unregulated trucks — more government oversight could be in your future.

Federal agencies are starting to take an interest in the safety records of short-haul trucking operations, including those that are not normally regulated. The result could be additional red tape, even a change to the definition of a 'commercial motor vehicle.'

'A gap in safety oversight'

The FMCSA — which normally only regulates vehicles over 10,000 pounds — recently asked one of its advisory committees to examine the safety of last-mile delivery services that use small trucks and vans. The agency noted that the use of such vehicles has exploded in recent years, but "there seems to be a gap in safety oversight of both drivers and vehicles."

The discussions at FMCSA are preliminary. At a 2020 meeting, the committee found that the DOT has very little crash data for smaller delivery vehicles. The committee's next step is to obtain and analyze as much data as possible from across multiple state and federal agencies.

The agency's focus, for now, is vehicles between 6,001 and 14,001 pounds. The FMCSA has no current authority to regulate commercial vehicles under 10,001 pounds, but that could change if data indicates clear safety concerns.

Short-Haul Driver Health Concerns

Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will be studying short-haul truck drivers' health. The organization says much is known about long-haul truckers' health, but there's a knowledge gap when it comes to drivers who stay local and return home each day.

The CDC will survey 300 drivers to learn about "how the complex interplay between job design and individual health behaviors affects the safety, health, and well-being of commercial drivers."

The CDC effort won't result in new regulations but could help identify the health challenges that short-haul drivers face — and offer new insights that could help those drivers stay healthy.

FMCSRs — Safety Standards Anyone Can Use

If you operate unregulated delivery trucks, keep in mind that safety isn't reserved for long-haul trucking companies and their full-time "truckers." The baseline safety standards set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) can be a valuable tool for anyone wanting to improve highway safety and reduce liability, which can also mean cost savings.

If you have a local delivery operation, it's an excellent time to reevaluate your safety program. If you haven’t already done so, consider applying the same FMCSA safety standards that the "big guys" have to follow. Doing so will improve safety, protect your bottom line, and improve the efficiency of your operation.

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