March 2020 Significant Rulemaking Report

Lindsey Bergeron

As COVID-19 continues to spread and put a strain on our nation’s motor carriers, the FMCSA has temporarily lifted all hours of service regulations for drivers who are hauling freight (or people) to help with the relief effort. This includes food, household goods and medical supplies.

Related Article: FMCSA Issues Emergency Declaration in Response to COVID-19 Outbreak

And although it may be temporarily on hold as the government focuses on the current crisis, there was some potentially good news for the industry earlier this month with the hours of service final rule being submitted to the White House for approval. Once approved, it will be one step closer to being published in the Federal Register.

The details of the hours of service changes haven’t been released yet, as the text of the final rule won’t be made public until it hits the Federal Register. Also unclear, is how long it will be before the changes go into effect.

Other big news, is that enforcement for the DOT Clearinghouse is now in full effect, with Foley getting confirmation from auditors that they’re being asked to check for Clearinghouse compliance during both new entrant audits and compliance reviews. The CVSA has also added Clearinghouse compliance to their out-of-service criteria.

Case Study: How One Company Tripled Their Fleet and Improved Their Hiring & Compliance Processes

What else is going on in the FMCSA? Here’s a current rundown of pending regulations:

 Proposed FMCSA Rules

FMCSA RuleSummaryStatus
Application by Certain Mexico-Domiciled Motor Carriers to Operate Beyond U.S. Municipalities and Commercial Zones on the U.S.-Mexico BorderThe 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 SystemWould 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 InformationWould 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 BrokersWould 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 ProcessWould 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 StatesThis 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 LimitersThis 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 ProgramProposes 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 DriversThe FMCSA sent out a request for public comment regarding the current hours of service regulations and whether certain revisions would benefit motor carriers.Final rule submitted to OMB for approval.
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 CDLThe 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.

About the Author

Lindsey Bergeron is Editor of the Foley blog. Serving as transportation guru, she keeps an eye on the industry and its day-to-day evolution and developments, specifically writing about the various lifestyle, business and regulatory topics that are most relevant to motor carriers. Holding a degree in Journalism and Political Science from the University of Connecticut, she ran a successful content marketing firm before joining Foley at its Hartford hub. Her current expertise in transportation writing is built upon an extensive background in editing, feature writing and content development.

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