Back in January, the new year looked to be a big and busy one for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, both in terms of the number of items on the regulatory agenda and in their significance to the trucking industry. That hasn’t changed, though the agency continues to extend the timeline on several critical rulemakings. Complicating matters, the new Congress has had some ideas of its own about what’s best for trucking, with several such bills introduced along the way.
So far in 2015, the agency in January gave the green light to cross-border trucking with Mexico, in February it closed the comment period on a proposal to increase carrier insurance minimums, and in June FMCSA received the recommendation on CDL training standards from an advisory panel convened under a negotiated rulemaking. From the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) trucking has new requirements for electronic stability control systems and Phase II of the Obama administration’s truck fuel efficiency standards.
Among the major actions still pending are a revamping of the safety fitness determination, an electronic logging mandate, a speed limiter requirement, a drug and alcohol testing database, possible changes to insurance minimums and driver coercion protection.
A number of these are late, required by Congress in MAP-21 to be enacted by Oct. 1 of last year. And Congress, currently debating a new highway bill and the annual DOT funding appropriation, has proposed additional legislation dealing with CSA, hours of service, trailer length, insurance minimums, and driver pay, to name a few. Some of the proposals would block FMCSA regs, some would strengthen them, and some of bills are aimed at negating others.
The House and a key Senate committee are scheduled to consider their respective versions of the highway bill on Wednesday.
As the legislative process runs its course, the complete list of FMCSA regulatory initiatives and publication dates scheduled for 2015 is below, based on the July update. (The monthly update of the Dept. of Transportation’s rulemaking calendar is available here.):
Carrier Safety Fitness Determination
FMCSA proposes to amend the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) to adopt revised methodologies that would result in a safety fitness determination (SFD). The proposed methodologies would determine when a motor carrier is not fit to operate commercial motor vehicles based on (1) the carrier's performance in relation to five of the Agency's Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs); (2) an investigation; or (3) a combination of on-road safety data and investigation information.
Original scheduled date: 03/29/2008
Projected date as of January: 06/17/2015
Current projected date: 09/30/2015
Latest action: Sent to OMB on June 23.
CDL Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse
This rulemaking would create a central database for verified positive controlled substances and alcohol test results for commercial driver´s license (CDL) holders and refusals by such drivers to submit to testing. MAP-21 required the clearinghouse to be created by Oct. 1 of last year.
Stage: Final Rule
Original scheduled date: 09/16/2015
Projected date as of January: 10/30/2015
Current projected date: 12/14/2015
Latest action: Projected to be sent to OMB for review on July 20
ELDs and HOS supporting documents
This rulemaking would establish: (1) minimum performance and design standards for hours-of-service (HOS) electronic logging devices (ELDs); (2) requirements for the mandatory use of these devices by drivers currently required to prepare HOS records of duty status (RODS); (3) requirements concerning HOS supporting documents; and (4) measures to address concerns about harassment resulting from the mandatory use of ELDs.
Stage: Final Rule
Original scheduled date: 09/30/2015
Projected date as of January: 09/30/2015
Current Projected Date: 09/30/2015
Latest action: Sent to the Office of the Secretary of Transportation (OST) for review on June 1, two weeks later than projected in January.
MAP-21 Enhancements and Other Updates to the Unified Registration System
FMCSA proposes to: 1) adjust the URS registration fee for new interstate motor carriers, freight forwarders, brokers, intermodal equipment providers (IEPs), hazardous materials safety permit (HMSP) applicants, and cargo tank facilities under FMCSA jurisdiction that must register with the Agency to operate in interstate commerce; 2) implement several MAP-21 provisions that require changes to the URS regulations, the online Application for USDOT Number/Operating Authority Registration (Form MCSA-1) and MCSA-1 Instructions; 3) prohibit transfers of operating authority registration; 4) and make several technical amendments to the MCSA-1 Form and Instructions for purposes of clarification.
Original scheduled date: 10/29/2013
Projected date as of January: 04/19/2016
Current Projected Date: 04/19/2016
Latest action: Scheduled to be sent to OST for review on Dec. 7.
Prohibition of Coercion
Congress authorized and required FMCSA to ensure that the regulations adopted pursuant to the Motor Carrier Safety Act of 1984 (MCSA), as amended by MAP-21, do not result in coercion of drivers by motor carriers, shippers, receivers, or transportation intermediaries to operate CMVs in violation of certain provisions of the FMCSRs and the HMRs. The major provisions of this rule include prohibitions of coercion, procedures for drivers to report incidents of coercion to FMCSA, and rules of practice that the Agency will follow in response to reports of coercion.
Stage: Final Rule
Original scheduled date: 09/10/2015
Projected date as of January: 09/10/2015
Current Projected Date: 09/25/2015
Latest action: Sent to OST for review on May 6
Heavy Vehicle Speed Limiters
This joint rulemaking with NHTSA would respond to petitions from ATA and Roadsafe America to require the installation of speed limiting devices on heavy trucks.
Original scheduled date: 03/24/2014
Projected date as of January: 05/07/2015
Current Projected Date: 08/20/2015
Latest action: Sent to OMB for review on May 18.
Entry-Level Driver Training
FMCSA proposes to adopt new standards for mandatory training requirements for entry-level operators of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) that are required to complete a skills test prior to obtaining a commercial driver's license (CDL).
Original scheduled date: 10/15/2015
Projected date as of January: N/A
Current Projected Date: 10/15/2015
Latest action: Received recommendations from advisory committee on June 15.
MAP-21 CDL Requirements
This rulemaking would grant military veterans an exemption from the domicile requirement, allowing the State they are stationed in to issue them a commercial driver’s license.
Original scheduled date: 05/18/2015
Projected date as of January: 02/25/2016
Current Projected Date: 05/26/2016
Latest action: FMCSA cites “lack of staffing” as the reason for the delay of this initiative.
Financial Responsibility for Motor Carriers, Freight Forwarders, and Brokers
FMCSA is proposing a rulemaking to increase the minimum levels of financial responsibility for motor carriers, including liability coverage for bodily injury or property damage in the case of freight and passenger motor carriers. FMCSA has determined that the current financial responsibility minimums are inadequate to fully cover the costs of some crashes in light of increased medical costs and DOT's revised value of statistical life estimates.
Original scheduled date: 11/12/2014
Latest action: Received public comment; comment period closed Feb. 26.