Just speculating, lawyers with the transportation law practice of Holland & Knight suggest that under President Biden the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration may choose to impose new safety regulations on smaller commercial trucks.
Currently, only property-carrying vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) or gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of greater than 10,000 pounds are regulated by FMCSA.
These kinds of large vans used in last-mile deliveries are not federally regulated when carrying cargo (although they are when carrying passengers).
An advisory committee of FMCSA discussed this issue last summer – so there is a real indication that it could be on the table, and that it might not be a purely partisan issue, the attorneys point out.
Among other things, regulated companies and drivers are subject to hours of service regulations, maintenance and inspection requirements, minimum insurance requirements, regular reporting to FMCSA and the potential for audits by the agency.
Such new regulations would likely primarily impact parcel carriers with large fleets of vans and smaller trucks, along with many of firms that are relatively new entrants to the last-mile delivery market.
“In addition to the impact on large established entities, the prospect of new regulations could have a chilling effect on the rapid growth of this niche segment of logistics,” the attorneys suggest.
They add that many trades, such as plumbing and HVAC, caterers, florists, news organizations and mobile dog groomers, also use these kinds of vans.
The attorneys note that while these businesses don’t often operate in interstate commerce, expansion of FMCSA regulation to smaller vehicles could impact many businesses not currently regulated.