February 28, 2022
What Does the Infrastructure Deal Really Mean?
By Paul Feenstra, PACCAR Senior Director of Government Affairs
On November 15th, President Joe Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act into law – a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that reauthorizes federal surface transportation programs and provides an additional $550 billion in funding for our nation’s infrastructure. From rebuilding roads and bridges, modernizing ports, expanding broadband, and providing funding for states to install electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure, the bill covers a lot of ground.
The new infrastructure law provides $7.5 billion to support the buildout of a national network of publicly accessible EV chargers, including charging infrastructure for electric medium- and heavy-duty trucks. Another $2.25 billion will be spent modernizing and electrifying America’s ports. The U.S. Departments of Transportation and Energy published funding guidance this month for $5 billion of the $7.5 billion which will be provided to states via formula for the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) program. The funds will be provided over 5 years for the acquisition and operation of EV charging stations along designated Alternative Fuel Corridors with a focus on the Interstate Highway System. States are required to submit an EV Infrastructure Deployment Plan by August 1 and receive approval from the Federal Highway Administration before accessing the funds. A separate $2.5 billion competitive grant program designed to further develop the national EV charging network will be announced later this year.
The bipartisan infrastructure law directs the Secretary of Transportation through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to prescribe a Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) within two years requiring Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) systems to be installed on all new commercial motor vehicles that are subject to electronic stability control regulations. The law also directs NHTSA to conduct a study into the feasibility, benefits, and costs associated with installing AEB systems on a variety of other newly manufactured trucks.
In addition, the new law requires NHTSA to publish a regulation to strengthen rear underride guard standards for trailers and semitrailers, research side underride guards, and establish an Advisory Committee on Underride Protection.
Promoting Women in the Trucking Workforce
The new law also recognizes that while women make up 47% of the U.S. workforce, women are underrepresented in the trucking industry, holding only 24% of transportation and warehousing jobs and representing 6.6% of truck drivers, 12.5% of the truck transportation workforce, and 8% of freight firm owners. To help address this disparity, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will establish a Women of Trucking Advisory Board to review and make recommendations on policies and strategies to address the challenges facing current and prospective women in the trucking industry. According to the White House, some of the focus areas will include barriers to entry, on-the-job safety risks, workplace harassment, mentorship, quality training, education, and opportunities for advancement.
Truck Leasing Task Force
A Truck Leasing Task Force will be established to investigate and recommend changes to laws and regulations at the Federal, state, and local level to “promote fair leasing agreements under which a commercial motor vehicle driver, including a short haul driver, who is a party to such an agreement is able to earn a rate commensurate with other commercial motor vehicle drivers performing similar duties.” The task force will also assess how these agreements impact road and driver safety and vehicle maintenance. The task force will include representatives from labor unions, trial lawyers, consumer protection groups, owner-operators, motor carriers providing lease-purchase agreements, and businesses subject to lease-purchase agreements.
Young Driver Apprenticeship Pilot Program
The infrastructure law also authorizes an apprenticeship program for up to 3,000 18- to 20-year-old commercial drivers’ license holders to participate in interstate commerce. Apprentices will only be allowed to operate vehicles in interstate commerce if the vehicle contains an automated manual or automatic transmission, an active braking collision mitigation system, a forward-facing video event capture system, and a governed speed of 65 miles per hour. They are expected to be accompanied by an experienced driver in the passenger seat.
See the full Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) bill here:
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