By Sandy Long
For many years, trucking provided the cash cow for states and the federal government to suck off of. Tolls, fines, taxes, you name it, and the states or the federal government found ways to get it off trucking usually in $100.00 increments. That has drastically changed in recent years, now it is in $1,000,000 dollar increments and gotten due to overwhelmingly expensive regulations.
One of the cheaper regulations pending is Sleep Apnea testing. At roughly $6-8,000.00 per study and cpap machine if the driver is found to have sleep apnea, this is one of the cheaper, on the surface, regulations proposed. On the surface because many drivers will be forced out of trucking both due to not being able to pay for the testing and machine, but because of companies not wanting to hire someone with higher BMI’s or who use cpap machines. This will add to the driver shortage, costing companies in the end lost accounts and sitting equipment. Furthermore, it is thought that approximately one-half of truck drivers are over the BMI rating suggested in the proposed regulation. One-half of 4 million cmv drivers times $8,000.00= a lot of money for someone.
The regulation that has doctors/medical practioners who perform DOT physicals be DOT certified is another cheaper regulation on the surface. The cost will be between $400.00 and $2,000.00 per medical person, depending on what the third party testing provider sets as price. The FMCSA states that 40,000 certified medical providers will be needed throughout the country to provide DOT physicals. This will surely raise the costs of the DOT physical.
Anti rollover devices, which is approaching regulation processes, will cost the industry $1 billion dollars over a five-year period for those buying new tractors according to estimates. This regulation will add roughly $1600.00 per new truck prices. This device will be able to sense when the trailer tilts beyond a certain point or if the driver maneuvers too quickly say to avoid someone cutting them off. The device will automatically apply the brakes in those cases. This device is touted as being able to save thousands of dollars in rollover accident losses. Nothing is said about the amount of accidents potentially caused because the system is braking when the driver needs to accelerate or when the roads are bad.
Conservative estimates of the regulation proposed to place mandatory EOBRs in trucks is $2 billion dollars, however, those in the know in the industry suggest that the cost may run closer to $4 billion. At $2,000.00 a unit plus monthly fees, this will effectively close the doors on small companies and owner operators in this economy where most companies and owner operators are hanging on by a thread. While grants and tax breaks may be offered to those who need them; that money has to come from somewhere, perhaps the taxpayers?
It appears that regulations are being passed to benefit manufacturers along with the government. Someone designs a new technology, sells the idea to the FMCSA and voila! a new regulation appears to use that design in trucking to supposedly make trucks or their drivers safer. Do they make trucking safer, or is it a case of greedy rustlers trying to steal other folks cows to make a profit off of? One thing is sure true, it is no longer that trucking is a cash cow, it is a whole herd.