The Federal Highway Administration is considering changing the way roadside safety inspections are done and how vehicles may be placed out of service. They hope to clear up the discrepancy between how state and federal regulations are administered.
Federal, state, and local safety inspectors currently use the North American Uniform Out-of-Service Criteria (OOS), developed by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, as a guide to determine whether to place commercial motor vehicles and drivers out of service.
Sometimes, OOS criteria are less stringent than those mandated by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR). For example, a vehicle with a single broken low beam during night-time driving does not comply with FMCSR. OOS criteria, however, do not kick in until both headlamps are incapable of producing a low beam. An inspector would cite the motor carrier for the violation of federal regulations but permit the truck to proceed so that repairs to the headlamp can be made at a more convenient time and place.
The FHWA is undertaking this inquiry to clear up the differences, legally and technically, between the two criteria. Their goal is to provide a more precise understanding of the OOS rules and how they should be applied within the scope of federal regulations. "The FHWA believes that the time has come for a full discussion of the OOS criteria: what they are; their purpose; how they are used; who is responsible for implementing them; and whether they are regulatory or merely guides for the use of necessary discretion in the enforcement of motor carrier safety," the FHWA noted.
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