Reform to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and its signature safety management program is included in a compromise highway bill agreed to Tuesday by congressional negotiators, paving the way for votes in the House and Senate. If Congress passes the 5-year, $300 billion package and President Obama signs it, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act would be the most substantial highway funding authorization since SAFETEA-LU was crafted a decade ago.

The latest extension of MAP-21, the current federal program, is set to expire Friday, so another brief extension may be needed before Congress can vote on the new plan.

Still, the leaders of the House and Senate transportation committees who crafted the policy portions of the bicameral, bipartisan agreement called the FAST Act “a vital investment in our country.”

Along with funding federal highway and transit projects, the 1,300-page legislation includes an expansion of the national freight program and the promotion of vehicle-to-infrastructure equipment to improve congestion and safety.

Among the trucking-specific provisions, the legislation overhauls the rulemaking process to improve transparency and requires a review of and changes to the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program, including removal of the carrier safety scores from public display and the development a crash accountability component. The bill also calls on FMCSA to develop a plan to reward trucking companies who go beyond the regulatory requirements and invest in additional safety technologies and programs.

Another provision requires a full study of the commercial impacts and safety benefits of raising the minimum insurance requirement for carries.

And while the package spells out a number initiatives to make it easier for servicemen and women to transition into truck driving careers, negotiators did not retain language that would have let states permit CDL holders under age 21 to cross state lines. Instead, the bill calls for pilot program to study the feasibility, benefits, and safety impacts of allowing drivers between 18 and 21 to work in interstate commerce.

Also not making the bill were provisions that would have spelled out carrier hiring standards for brokers and shippers, and reinforced interstate commerce precedence over state work rules for truck drivers.

Other driver-related language in the conference report would permit hair testing in drug and alcohol screening and would require FMCSA to study whether long truck driver commute times contribute to on-the-job highway accidents.