Allen C. Smith, Austin R. Walsh

On 3/1/22, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced a partnership with the American Trucking Association (ATA) to participate in the Biden Administration’s 90-day Trucking Apprenticeship Challenge, which is a part of the Administration’s Trucking Action Plan (TAP). To date, over 100 employers have accepted the Challenge that has resulted in hiring of 574 drivers across the industry at the end of their apprenticeships. The total cost for the program is$7.4 million with over $2.8 million spent to date.

On 3/10/2022, the Hydrogen for Trucks Act of 2022 (S.3806) was introduced by Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and John Cornyn (R-TX) in the U.S. Senate and would authorize congressional spending of $200 million through 2027 to fund grants studying the development and use of hydrogen trucking infrastructure. The data will be gathered by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and studied by the Energy Department. The Senate bill was referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and is awaiting further action. A companion bill (H.R. 7064) was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representatives Katie Porter (D-Calif.) and Gus Bilirakis (R – FL.) on 3/11/22 and was referred to the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology where it is awaiting further action.

On 3/17/22, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced the launch of the Women of Trucking Advisory Board (WOTAB) to recruit, support, and ensure the safety of women CMV drivers. According to the FMCSA, women account for 24% of all transportation jobs. The Advisory Board will study and advise the FMCSA and DOT on areas including:

• Evaluating barriers and trends that impact women in trucking
• Identifying opportunities to expand rolls for women
• Advising on policies that provide education, training, mentorship, or outreach
• Reviewing opportunities to enhance safety for women in the industry.

The Board will be compromised of at least 8 members and is scheduled to compete its investigation by 2/11/24.

On 4/7/22, the FMCSA announced the opening of applications for the Truck Leasing Task Force (TLTF). In consultation with the DOL, the Task Force is a component of the Trucking Action Plan and is intended to evaluate the impacts of commercial motor vehicle (CMV) lease agreements and develop future best practices for such agreements. The Task Force will address areas including:

• Predatory truck leasing arrangements
• Evaluation of common lease agreements and terms to identify inequities
• Reviewing agreements available to drayage drivers at ports
• Studying the impact of lease agreements on net income to CMV drivers
• Assessing resources available to drivers to review and evaluate lease agreements.

The Task Force will be compromised of 10 members and is scheduled to complete its investigation by 2/11/24.

On 4/21/22, the DOT announced $6.4 Billion in funding over 5 years under the Carbon Reduction Program (CRP) authorized by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to pay states to develop carbon reduction strategies and “address the climate crises facing our nation.” In the announcement, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg stated, “[a]s the sector generating the most carbon emissions in the U.S. economy, transportation must play a leading role in solving the climate crisis.” Funds may be used for projects including creation pedestrian and bicycle trails, deployment of alternative fuel cell technology, and purchase of electric vehicles.

On 5/17/22, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has released its early estimate of 2021 traffic fatalities. The NHTSA estimated that 42,915 people died in motor vehicle accidents in 2021, a 10.5% increase over 2020 and the highest number of fatalities since 2005. The study underscores the Administration’s Safe Streets and Roads for All program, which was a part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and pledges $6 Billion over 5 years to fund local efforts to reduce roadway crashes and fatalities.

On 5/26/22, the Biden Administration and the DOT announced a notice of funding opportunity for $450 million in grants to 35 University Transportation Centers through 2026 for the purpose of advancing research in the following areas:

• Preserving the environment
• Reducing congestion
• Promoting safety
• Improving mobility of people and goods
• Preserving the existing transportation system
• Reducing transportation cyber security risks

Applications are open through 8/25/22.