During a conference call hosted by Stifel Nicolaus Friday morning, Annette Sandberg, the former administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, provided an insider's thoughts on some of the most influential and pressing regulatory issues facing the trucking industry.

During the discussion, Sandberg, a principal at TransSafe Consulting, told listeners she would encourage officials at the FMCSA to provide carriers with a mechanism for seeing what their safety scores would look like
under the Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010. Sandberg said fleets need at least three to four months before CSA 2010 goes live to clean up their data.

"If they're not in a pilot state, they have no idea what they look like," she said.

While the FMCSA has been focused on the safety impacts of CSA 2010, it has not really been concerned about the financial impacts on fleets, Sandberg said. Particularly, there's the issue of whether brokers or shippers are going to be comfortable loading with a carrier that has a high score.

Under the new CSA 2010 system, carriers will be scored with additional scrutiny and under much more refined buckets, the seven Behavioral Analysis Safety Improvement Categories, or BASICs. As a result, carriers that had good scores under SafeStat are going to find themselves "deficient" in areas under CSA 2010.

The big question is, Sandberg said, "would [brokers and shippers] still load a carrier that has a deficient BASIC?"


Another regulation she commented on was the issue of electronic on-board recorders. A rule is currently in the White House, and Sandberg expects there to be a final rule on EOBRs this spring, if not summer. This rule would require recorders for carriers that fail to meet hours of service standards. It also will encourage voluntary use of recorders by various incentives, and will spell out new performance standards for the devices, taking into account the myriad technological developments that have occurred since the current voluntary rule was established in 1988.

For all carriers, "I believe that EOBRs will probably be mandated in the next five years, if not sooner," she said.

Sandberg said some owner-operators don't like EOBRs because they're expensive and they don't want to be monitored. However, she said so many in the industry already have GPS on their vehicles, and it's such a small step from GPS to EOBRs.

"It's going to be the minority that doesn't want them on," she said.

Hours of Service

Sandberg also touched on the controversial hours-of-service rule, something she joked as being a regulation that never ends. "I don't think we'll ever see hours of service end or finalized in my lifetime."

She believes the HOS rule won't be changed much, except for the split sleeper birth and rest breaks provisions. If the FMCSA mandates rest breaks, the question will be whether the break is inserted into the 14-hour allotment or whether the 14 hours is extended.

During "The Changing Regulatory Landscape and its Direct Impact on Trucking Industry Capacity" conference call, Sandberg tackled other regulatory concerns facing the trucking industry, including the reauthorization of the surface transportation bill, truck size and weight, the U.S.-Mexico border dispute, and driver health and drug testing. These are all issues that have been delayed or put on the back burner because of other legislative priorities.