FMCSA extends comment period on safety fitness proposal

FMCSA extends comment period on safety fitness proposal

Agency grants more time for 'meaningful input' on 'extremely complex' plan

Citing stakeholder requests, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will allow more time for public input on its proposed revision of the Safety Fitness Determination rule, extending the deadline to May 23 for initial comments and June 23 for reply comments, according to an announcement to be published Tuesday.

The agency issued the original notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on January 21, with an initial comment period of 60 days. A number of trucking and transportation groups in early February petitioned FMCSA for an extension of the comment deadline.

“Producing worthwhile comments requires a great deal of time in order to read the proposed rule and fully understand it. In addition, OOIDA must compile our findings and share those with our members, as well as have time to elicit substantive responses,” the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Assn. writes in its request. “The Safety Fitness Determination NPRM is an extremely complex proposal that requires a prolonged comment period to ensure that OOIDA, our membership, and other stakeholders have ample opportunity to review the rulemaking and provide meaningful input.”

Indeed, the proposal has come under sharp criticism from several sources, including trucking industry organizations and members of Congress who included various agency reforms in the new highway bill.

Specifically called into question is the proposed use of roadside inspection data and computer algorithms to determine if a trucking company is unfit to operate. A provision in the highway bill requires FMCSA to withhold from the public the comparative carrier safety scores as developed under the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program, pending an outside review of their fairness and effectiveness.

The agency contends the use of the carrier data in the SFD does not violate the restrictions on the CSA system.

Details about the NPRM and instructions for submitting comments are on the regulations.gov website.

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