Update will be filed sometime in January, FMCSA said. (Photo by Sean Kilcarr for Fleet Owner)

FMCSA to prepare safety fitness rule addendum

Jan. 12, 2017
Agency believes a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking (SNPRM) is now needed.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) filed an update to its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking this week regarding its new safety fitness determination (SFD) methodology, specifically to announce that a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking (SNPRM) will be necessary.

The agency said that, “in order to thoroughly evaluate and possibly incorporate comments received” and to allow it to address recommendations from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) study concerning Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program, FMCSA will issue an SNPRM sometime later this month in its Report on DOT Significant Rulemakings

Last March, citing stakeholder requests, FMCSA allowed more time for public input on its proposed revision of the Safety Fitness Determination rule, extending its original deadline from May 23 for initial comments to June 23.

“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. said at the time.

“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,” the group noted.

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 its CSA program, pending an "outside review" of their fairness and effectiveness, which, as noted above, the NAS is conducting.

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