President Signs Transportation Bill with Worker Safety Provisions

On July 6, President Obama signed the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (H.R. 4348) into law, which includes several safety provisions for highway construction workers, commercial truck drivers, and other transportation sector workers.

The new law requires the Secretary of Transportation to, among many other things, establish a national repository for records of drug and alcohol violations by commercial motor vehicle drivers. Employers are prohibited from hiring a driver who has violations, or has refused a drug or alcohol test, in the prior three years. The law also requires the creation of a system to notify employers of commercial drivers’ traffic infractions.

Studies will be conducted on the crashworthiness standards for large trucks and the “reset rule” that allows commercial drivers to spend a maximum of 60 hours on duty in a seven-day period with a break of at least 34 consecutive hours off duty, including at least two periods between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. Protective measures will be taken to keep highway construction workers safely away from traffic and final regulations issued on minimum training requirements for commercial bus drivers.

The new law also requires electronic logs for all commercial vehicles to monitor hours of service rules. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) approach to truck and bus safety is being revamped by increasing the use of data and technology to drive enforcement efforts. The FMCSA, charged with ensuring that only the safest truck and bus drivers are authorized to drive, has increased authority to conduct oversight of the truck, bus, and household-goods movers industries. Convict labor will be banned in federally funded highway construction projects unless the convicts are on parole, supervised release, or probation. For veterans, the law requires federal contractors to give hiring preference to veterans with appropriate skills, for highway construction projects, and creates a program to assist veterans in getting commercial driver’s licenses.