Congress Passes COVID-19 Relief Package that Includes Flexibility for State Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Enforcement Programs
On Dec. 21, 2020, Congress passed a COVID-19 relief package that included the Motor Carrier Safety Grant Relief Act of 2020 which will extend, by one year, the periods of performance for the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP) formula funding, High Priority Grant, Innovative Technology Deployment Program and Commercial Driver’s License Program Implementation Grant for funding awarded in fiscal 2019 and 2020. Additionally, the legislation gives FMCSA the authority to reallocate any unspent grant funds from fiscal 2019 and 2020 so that the funding stays within MCSAP.
Congress Passes Transportation Funding
Also on Dec. 21, 2020, Congress passed a funding bill that included transportation funding for fiscal 2021. The bill includes funding for FMCSA to conduct a Large Crash Causal Factors Study; for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to conduct behavioral research on automated driving systems; and for PHMSA to administer the Community Safety Grant and conduct a state program for hazardous materials safety inspection and enforcement training. Additionally, the bill provides full funding for commercial motor vehicle-related grants at or above the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act levels, with a $1 million dollar increase to the high priority grant program.
- MCSAP Formula – $308.7 million
- High Priority – $45.9 million
- CDLPI – $33.2 million
- CMV Operators – $1 million
The bill has several policy riders included.
- Section 130 directs FMCSA to send notice of Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) § 385.308 violations by a form of delivery that records notice of receipt. § 385.308 outlines violations that if committed by a new entrant may trigger an expedited safety audit or compliance review.
- Section 131 instructs FMCSA to add rear impact guards to Title 49 CFR Appendix G to Subchapter B of Chapter III – Minimum Periodic Inspection Standards.
- Section 132 prevents the U.S. Department of Transportation from enforcing electronic logging device (ELD) requirements for motor carriers transporting livestock or insects through Sept. 30, 2021.
Additionally, the bill’s joint statement included several relevant directives. The bill directs:
- FMCSA to evaluate the real-world safety impacts of the recent changes to the hours-of-service regulations
- FMCSA to examine different options to improve the facilitation of state inspector training
- NHTSA to conduct a rulemaking to implement the Institute for Highway Safety’s standards for rear impact guards
- NHTSA and FMCSA to address public comment on the Aug. 26, 2016, proposed rule on speed limiters