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December 2022 Significant Rulemaking Report
Mariah Barr
4 mins read

Foley keeps you updated on the latest federal rulemakings & helps you comply with them through our exclusive DOT compliance services.

With 2022 coming to an end and plenty of inclement weather literally taking the country by storm, it’s the perfect time to share the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA) latest notice of proposed rulemaking.

You were likely impacted by the COVID-19 emergency declaration that waived numerous regulations for motor carriers and CDL drivers for over two years. Drivers were exempt from certain FMCSA hours-of-service (HOS) rules, driver’s license expiration and renewal requirements, and more, until the declaration expired on October 15th of this year.

Now, the FMCSA is taking what it has learned from the COVID-19 declaration and seeking to amend what’s included in emergency declarations that may be passed in the future.

Potential Changes to Regulatory Relief

Under the current federal regulations, motor carriers and drivers providing direct assistance to state and local emergency relief efforts are automatically issued a 30-day exemption from parts 390-399, which cover driver qualifications, HOS, vehicle maintenance and repair, transportation of hazardous materials (HAZMAT), and more. This occurs when the FMCSA, the president, or a governor issues an emergency declaration.

But this could change.

In a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) posted on December 8, the FMCSA announced its consideration to limit the automatic regulatory relief to five days and include only FMCSA hours-of-service exemptions from regulations parts 395.3 and 395.5, which both limit the number of hours drivers are allowed to actively operate property- or passenger-carrying vehicles.

Read this related Foley article for more HOS guidance! Compliance Review: FMCSA Hours-of-Service Rules

What are the main motivators behind this proposal? The FMCSA would like to prevent drivers and carriers from overlooking important safety requirements while providing emergency assistance, and many emergencies that cause these declarations to be passed, such as weather events, are over within a five-day period.

If there is a belief that the FMCSA hours-of-service exemption must be extended beyond five days, or additional regulatory relief is necessary, a state or local official would then need to request an extension from the FMCSA.

The Exception to the New Proposed Exemptions? Heating Fuel.

There is one exception to the proposed rulemaking, and that’s if an emergency is declared as the result of a shortage of residential heating fuel. Any motor carrier or driver transporting residential heating fuel in the area impacted by the emergency would continue to receive the full 30 days of regulatory relief from parts 390 through 399.

Comment on the Proposed Rulemaking

Do you have any thoughts or opinions on this notice? The FMCSA is accepting comments on it through February 6, 2023. You can leave your comments here.

As always, if you need help navigating the complex world of DOT compliance, including FMCSA hours-of-service, don’t hesitate to reach out to a Foley compliance expert. We’re ready to get you the DOT compliance services you need to succeed and avoid violations and fines.

 

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