Driving by new rules

DOT changes the driving scorecard

2003 proved to be busy for the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), and activity surrounding transportation issues promises to be just as intense for 2004 and 2005 on federal and state levels. Drivers' hours of service (HOS), commercial driver's license (CDL) disqualifications and hazardous material (hazmat) endorsements, hazmat security plans and masking of violations by states are some areas affected by recent or imminent DOT rule changes. (Masking is the practice of concealing convictions issued to CDL drivers so the convictions do not appear on records inspected or requested by other states' law-enforcement agencies.) These changes may dramatically affect how the roofing industry conducts business.

HOS rule changes had been considered by DOT for 10 years before the publication of the proposed rules in May 2000.

Driver fatigue was identified early as a major safety issue and the leading impetus for HOS rule changes. Similarly, a 1999 DOT report to Congress documented several vulnerabilities in the current CDL program that impeded highway safety and subsequently were addressed in the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999.

New rules related to hazmat security plan requirements and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) review of CDL hazmat endorsements originated after the Sept. 11 attacks.