The new highway bill, which was named the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), was passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate on June 29, 2012. The major provisions of the bill concern the construction and maintenance of the nation’s highway system, but it includes many other provisions that directly affect interstate trucking companies, drivers and intermediaries.
The new provisions that concern trucking companies begin on page 380 of the 599-page bill, and the provisions for freight forwarders and freight brokers begin on page 422.
The highlights of the provisions in MAP-21 are as follows:
-The broker bond has been raised from $10,000 to $75,000.
-Transport companies are required to be more transparent in the payment of claims by bonds and trusts.
-All motor carriers, freight forwarders, and brokers must register for each function performed.
-National driver training standards will be established by the Department of Transportation (DOT) within one year.
-A national registry of drivers carrying CDLs will be established. The registry will include driving histories and the results of alcohol and drug tests.
-Electronic logging devices will be required on all interstate commercial motor vehicles within two years.
Potential Impacts of the Increased Broker Bond Requirement
While drivers will be affected by the bill in several ways, the raising of the broker bond, which was set at $10,000 in the 1970s, is regarded as one of the major outcomes. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) and the Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA) had been pushing for the bond to be raised for years. Originally, these organizations were calling for the bond to be raised to $100,000, but a last-minute compromise brought it down to $75,000.
In addition, bond payments to owner-operators must now be issued more promptly. Surety providers must pay uncontested claims within 30 days, and a 60-day period that includes public notifications is required in advance of bond cancellations.
Besides requiring the higher broker bond, truckers will be protected from dishonest brokers in several other ways. Owners of trucking companies and intermediaries will also be required to disclose all familial relationships with the owners of other trucking companies to help reduce fraud. Brokers failing to meet any of the new provisions face stiff civil penalties for unauthorized brokering.
Drivers will also be affected by other provisions of MAP-21. Drivers will have to enter into the national registry, and they have two years to connect electronic logging devices (ELDs) to their vehicles. In addition, all truckers will have to prove that training standards have been met within the next year.