Final Highway Bill Signed by President Obama

on Dec 21, 2015
Final Highway Bill Signed by President Obama

Congress has passed the first long-term highway bill in a decade, which was signed by President Obama on December 4. The bill is nearly 1,300 pages long, so this guide will help you highlight the major changes that made the cut and the ones that didn’t.


  • CSA reform: This bill removes the bulk of the CSA system’s Safety Measurement System from public view, the heart of the program. It also removes carriers’ percentile rankings and calls for the FMCSA and the Government Accountability Office to define the faults of the program, develop a plan to fix them and implement the changes.
  • Driver drug testing reform: Carriers can test drivers via hair tests in place of urine tests. However, the federal Department of Health and Human Services still needs to establish the guidelines for hair testing and has one year to do so.
  • Detention time study: The FMCSA is required to study and report on how driver detention at shippers and receivers impacts drivers, their schedules, their pay and the flow of U.S. freight.
  • Insurance rule study: The FMCSA is also required to study carrier liability insurance minimums and before initiating any rule to raise them. The organization is also instructed to increase the amount of liability insurance required to be held by motor carriers, currently at $750,000 for general haulers.
  • Changes to FMCSA rulemaking process: When the FMCSA produces a new regulation, it must also perform a regulatory impact analysis based on things like the effects on different sized carriers.
  • Military veterans in the trucking industry: The bill requires the FMCSA to change rules regarding CDL issuance to allow military veterans with previous experience operating equipment to more easily obtain a civilian truck operator job. Military driving experience now counts towards skills tests.
  • Windshield-mounted technology: A small change is being implemented regarding windshield-mounted devices, in response to growing interest by both carriers and drivers in windshield-mounted cameras and more.


  • Under-21 truckers: The preliminary bills included measures to allow states to enter into compacts with other states that would allow 18-21 year old CDL holders cross state lines. This element was removed from the final bill and instead calls for a controlled study that will collect data on under-21 drivers who are former military.
  • Size/weight reform: No measures to change truck size and weight standards are included. There was previously a push to raise weight limits to 91,000 pounds and allow double trailers.
  • Carrier hiring standards: The House highway bill included criteria for brokers, shippers and others to use when making carrier hiring decisions. One of the criteria recommended only hiring carriers with satisfactory safety ratings. However, many small trucking companies are unrated by the FMCSA. Overall, carrier hiring standards were removed from the final bill.
  • Tolling changes: The Senate’s original bill would have allowed tolling on existing Interstate lanes. It also allowed the use of toll money for use outside of the U.S., which is currently a closed-loop system. The provision was struck from the final FAST Act.

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