The year 2015 looks 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.
Among the highlights are a revamping of the way carrier safety is evaluated and rated, an electronic logging mandate, a speed limiter requirement, a drug and alcohol testing database, possible changes to insurance minimums and driver coercion protection.
Fleet Owner spoke recently with Dave Osiecki, executive vice president and head of advocacy for American Trucking Assns. about the key issues carriers should be aware of.
Fleets “can and should expect” the electronic logging device (ELD) rule to be published on schedule, Osiecki said, and that will open a two-year window for adoption. ATA doesn’t expect any last-minute problems, “with the possible exception of lawsuit” that might be filed post-publication, he added.
“The ELD rule’s a big deal for the agency and for the industry, of course,” he said.
And speaking of big deals, publication of the safety fitness determination (SFD) proposed rule this year will “take CSA to the next level,” Osiecki explained. FCMSA has long planned to incorporate roadside inspection data directly into carrier safety ratings.
It’s important to look closely at the proposed rule, he added, and to let FMCSA know what aspects carriers can support or have concerns about. Most troubling to ATA is the regulator’s willingness to push ahead while many in trucking and freight transportation question the direction of and continuous changes to the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program.
“There’s a lot of angst in the industry over the agency’s moving forward with a rule that’s going to codify a methodology that’s far from perfect and a system that is, in many ways, data starved,” Osiecki said.
ATA would like FMCSA to “re-propose” the driver drug and alcohol test clearinghouse rule, since the agency did not include all of the relevant violations.
“As proposed, it’s not a one-stop shop for an employer to go to,” Osiecki said. “That certainly wasn’t the intent of the industry when we advocated for it, and we don’t believe that was the intent of Congress when they required it.”
He also noted the EPA-driven Phase II in the greenhouse gas reduction standard which sets fuel economy minimums for heavy commercial vehicles, “again a big deal, for new trucks going forward.” Specifics are expected in the spring.
(Owner-operators and small fleets share some of these same concerns but have different priorities, and some contrary positions, as well. American Trucker has the small-business perspective covered.)
The complete list of FMCSA regulatory initiatives and publication dates scheduled for 2015 is below, based on the January update. (The monthly update of the Dept. of Transportation’s rulemaking calendar is available here.):
• Popular Title: Diabetes Standard
Original publication date: 11/30/2010
Current Projected Date: 07/03/2015
This rulemaking action would amend FMCSA´s medical qualification standards to allow drivers with insulin-treated diabetes mellitus to operate commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce, without seeking an exemption from the FMCSRs.
• Popular Title: Carrier Safety Fitness Determination
Original publication date: 03/29/2008
Current Projected Date: 06/17/2015
FMCSA proposes to amend the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) to adopt revised methodologies that would result in a safety fitness determination (SFD).
• Popular Title: CDL Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse
Stage: Final Rule
Original publication date: 09/16/2015
Current Projected Date: 10/30/2015
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.
• Popular Title: ELDs and HOS supporting documents
Stage: Final Rule
Original publication date: 09/30/2015
Current Projected Date: 09/30/2015
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.
• Popular Title: Prohibition of Coercion
Stage: Final Rule
Original publication date: 09/10/2015
Current Projected Date: 09/10/2015
Section 32911 of MAP-21 amended 49 U.S.C. § 31136(a) to require that regulations governing commercial motor vehicle safety ´ensure ... an operator of a commercial motor vehicle is not coerced by a motor carrier, shipper, receiver, or transportation intermediary to operate a commercial vehicle in violation of a regulation promulgated under 49 U.S.C. § 31136 or chapters 51 or 313 of title 49, U.S.C.’
• Popular Title: Heavy Vehicle Speed Limiters
Original publication date: 03/24/2014
Current Projected Date: 05/07/2015
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.
• Popular Title: MAP-21 CDL Requirements
Original publication date: 05/18/2015
Current Projected Date: 02/25/2016
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. (Substantially delayed in January 2015 update.)
• Popular Title: Minimum Levels of Financial Responsibility
Publication date: 11/28/2014
End of comment period: 02/26/2015
The FMCSA announces that it is considering 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.