Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Acting Administrator John H. Hill testified before the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure on the agency’s progress toward implementing provisions mandated by federal SAFETEA-LU legislation.
“FMCSA’s recently completed Large Truck Causation Study and previous research and data analyses clearly emphasize the need to focus resources on the driver,” said Hill in a prepared statement. “In particular, FMCSA needs to ensure that truck and bus drivers meet appropriate medical qualification standards.”
Medical Review Board
The agency’s first medical review board (MRB), which had been formed in March, in August will begin deliberations to assess the adequacy of the current medical standards for truck and bus drivers.
“The MRB will greatly enhance FMCSA’s ability to establish evidence-based medical standards that reflect the most up-to-date scientific data and research on the medical issues facing the truck and busing industry,” Hill said.
National Registry of Medical Examiners
In June and July, the agency will hold public meetings to discuss its intention to ensure medical examiners who assess a potential trucker’s fitness are trained on FMCSA’s medical regulations and standards. The agency will complete a rulemaking that establishes the standards for including medical examiners in the registry and the offenses that would result in being taken off the list.
FMCSA is considering whether to amend its medical standard to allow individuals with insulin-treated diabetes mellitus to operate commercial trucks in interstate commerce without having to obtain an exemption.
The agency recently relaxed the rules of its diabetes exemption program by eliminating the requirement that drivers applying for an exemption must have three years of driving experience. Additionally, the agency has invited all drivers who had been denied an exemption based on the defunct three-year requirement to reapply.
Since the policy revision the number of diabetes exemptions has increased significantly, said Hill, while “[ensuring] that each diabetes exemption granted results in the same level of safety that our current medical standards require.”
FMCSA will improve its Commercial Driver’s License Information System so that it:
· electronically provides information on convictions
· contains self-auditing features that ensure data quality
· integrates CDL with medical certificate
· conforms to federal security standards
Household goods movers
State attorneys general and state enforcement officials are able to enforce federal household goods regulations through civil action against a carrier or broker in U.S. District Court. In addition FMCSA has established a working group to assist states in bringing their own civil actions on behalf of consumers against household goods carriers or brokers.
Additionally, the agency will issue a final rule that codifies six household goods provisions, including definitions, household goods carrier operations, liability of carriers under receipts and bills of lading, arbitration requirements, civil penalties and penalties for holding goods hostage.
Intermodal container chassis safety
The agency this summer expects to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking to require that containerized intermodal equipment providers establish maintenance programs and keep records documenting inspection, repair and maintenance activities.
Carrier registration fees
FMCSA has established a board of directors for the Unified Carrier Registration Plan to govern the collection of fees paid by private fleets, for-hire carriers, brokers, freight forwarders and leasing companies. Unified Carrier Registration will replace the Single State Registration System, a program that applied only to for-hire carriers which expires Jan. 1, 2007.