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April 2021 Significant Rulemaking Report
7 mins read

With COVID-19 still remaining a threat after 14 months, there hasn’t been much movement when it comes to significant rulemaking from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The DOT has offered no updates to its usually monthly report for nearly a year-and-a-half.

However, there’s still plenty happening in the DOT that you need to be aware of.

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As you well know, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance is holding its 72-hour International Roadcheck this week (check back soon for updates and results), and industry experts expect that inspections will only continue to increase as the COVID threat goes down.

Meanwhile, the CVSA has announced that it will hold a Brake Safety Week August 22 through 28. There will also be an unannounced one-day brake safety enforcement initiative (to be held at any time, highlighting the importance of maintaining a compliant fleet). During both campaigns, inspectors will check brake systems on large trucks and buses throughout North America. According to the agency, brake-related violations comprise the largest percentage of all out-of-service violations cited during roadside inspections.

Furthermore, the CVSA has scheduled an Operation Safe Driver Week for July 11 through 17. During this initiative, law enforcement agencies across North America engage in heightened traffic safety enforcement and education to help combat unsafe driving behaviors. This is both for commercial motor vehicle and passenger-vehicle drivers. The focus this year is on speeding, but law enforcement personnel also enforce commercial vehicle traffic rules, driver regulatory compliance and seat belt use. They perform driver roadside inspections, as well.

And remember: With a new administration and a Democrat-led Congress now in place, changes could be on the horizon for the trucking industry. Many initiatives that were proposed by both the Trump and Obama administrations remain unresolved. If enacted, these could have significant impacts on trucking.

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Here are a few that Foley is keeping an eye on:

  • Automatic emergency braking is expected to be mandated for all new medium and heavy-duty trucks. Speed limiters are also likely to be required on large trucks, and underride side guards may eventually be required for trailers, as well.
  • The minimum insurance liability requirement for heavy-duty vehicles hauling non-hazardous freight is likely to increase from $750,000 to $2 million.
  • Sleep apnea screening is likely to be required for obese drivers (those with a BMI of 33 or higher who also exhibit other risk factors).
  • A pilot program allowing drivers under age 21 to operate commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce is once again being reviewed.
  • The Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) scoring system and the new hours-of-service rules changes will both continue to be refined.

What else is going on in the FMCSA? Here’s a current rundown of pending regulations that are currently under review:

 Proposed FMCSA Rules

FMCSA Rule Summary Status
Application by Certain Mexico-Domiciled Motor Carriers to Operate Beyond U.S. Municipalities and Commercial Zones on the U.S.-Mexico Border The international agreement would change regulations that govern applications and would require additional information on the applicant’s business and operating practices. Undetermined. Delays attributed to unanticipated issues requiring further analysis.
MAP-21 Enhancements and Other Updates to the Unified Registration System Would implement several provisions of MAP-21 as they relate to the Unified Registration System. Would update and codify the agency’s procedures for granting, suspending, and revoking registration. The intent is to allow for greater uniformity, transparency, efficiency and predictability in those processes, according to the FMCSA. Undetermined. An NPRM was published on September 20, with comments accepted through November 22.
Consumer Complaint Information Would require carriers of household goods to submit quarterly reports of complaints received. Undetermined. Delays attributed to lack of resources and lack of staffing.
Financial Responsibility for Motor Carriers, Freight Forwarders, and Brokers Would increase minimum insurance requirements for freight and passenger motor carriers. ANPRM. The FMCSA accepted comments through last fall on several key regulatory issues related to this rule.
New Entrant Safety Assurance Process Would improve methods to ensure new applicant carriers are knowledgeable about safety requirements. Undetermined. Delays attributed to additional coordination needs.
Safety Monitoring System and Compliance Initiative for Mexico-Domiciled Motor Carriers Operating in the United States This international agreement would implement a system to evaluate the safety fitness of Mexico-domiciled carriers within 18 months of being granted authority to operate in the U.S. Would also establish suspension and revocation procedures. Undetermined. Delays attributed to unanticipated issues requiring further analysis.
Heavy Vehicle Speed Limiters This rule would require the installation of speed limiting devices on heavy trucks. NPRM was published on 9/7/16 and ended on 11/7/16.
Amendments to Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program Proposes amendments to address changes in the Agency’s grant programs resulting from Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. NPRM. This rule has seen delays because it’s awaiting the development of additional data.
Safe Integration of Automated Driving Systems-Equipped Commercial Motor Vehicles  The FMCSA has requested public comment about the current Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) and whether they’ll need to be updated, modified or eliminated to make the safe introduction of automated driving systems on our nation’s roadways easier. ANPRM was published in late May with comments accepted through the end of August.
Hours of Service of Drivers of Commercial Motor Vehicles; Transportation of Agricultural Commodities  In an effort to create a clearer definition of the term “Agricultural commodity,” the FMCSA is seeking public comment and data on the issue. ANPRM. Comments were open through September 27.
Controlled Substances and Alcohol Testing: State Driver’s Licensing Agency Downgrade of CDL The FMCSA is proposing that all State Driver’s Licensing Agencies remove commercial driving privileges from anyone who violates the current drug or alcohol regulations. Privileges would not be reinstated until the return-to-duty process is complete. NPRM. No further information is available.
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