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Regulatory Update – Jan. 22, 2021

Update on Relevant U.S. Regulations

OST Requests Comments on Automated Vehicles Comprehensive Plan
On Jan. 21, 2021, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Office of the Secretary of Transportation (OST) published a notice and request for comments on a document outlining the agency’s plan for automated driving systems (ADS). The “Automated Vehicles Comprehensive Plan” describes how U.S. DOT is working toward safe and full integration of ADS. Comments are due by March 23.

USDA Publishes Final Rule on Hemp Production
On Jan. 19, 2021, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service published a final rule on hemp production. As required by the 2018 Farm Bill, the rule outlines a process for legal production of industrial hemp and includes that states may not prohibit the interstate transportation of lawfully produced hemp. The final rule does not require motor carriers to carry specific documentation but does encourage commercial motor vehicle drivers to adhere to state laws on required documentation when transporting hemp. The final rule is effective March 22.

PHMSA Announces Lithium Battery Air Safety Advisory Committee Meeting
On Jan. 12, 2021, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) announced that the Lithium Battery Air Safety Advisory Committee will hold a virtual public meeting March 3-4. Requests to participate in the meeting and/or submit written materials must be received by Feb. 17.

PHMSA Publishes Updates on Special Permits
Also on Jan. 12, 2021, PHMSA published updates on special permit applications:

 

FMCSA Requests Comments on Vision Standard NPRM
On Jan. 12, 2021, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to update the vision standards a driver is required to meet in order to operate a commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce. The NPRM would allow individuals who do not meet the visual acuity or field of vision standards to operate a commercial motor vehicle with certification from a medical examiner. Comments are due by March 15.

U.S. DOT Publishes Update to Civil Penalty Amounts
On Jan. 11, 2021, U.S. DOT published a final rule implementing the annual inflation increase of civil penalty amounts that may be imposed for violations of U.S. DOT regulations. These changes were effective on Jan. 11, 2021.

Update on Exemptions

CVSA Active Exemption Tracker
CVSA maintains a list of active exemptions issued by FMCSA. The exemption tracker can be found at www.cvsa.org under the “Inspections” tab at the top of the page.

CVSA Letters, Petitions and Comments to Rulemakings

Comments on MBR Helicopter’s Hours-of-Service Exemption Request
On Jan. 15, 2021, CVSA submitted comments to FMCSA on an exemption request from Mountain Blade Runner (MBR) Helicopter LLC seeking to allow ground support equipment operators to be permitted to operate during a 16-hour on-duty window instead of 14 and only be required to take eight consecutive hours off duty instead of the required 10. CVSA opposes the exemption request, due to its potential negative impact on safety and increased risk of fatigue.

Other Items of Interest

White House Announces U.S. DOT Nominations
On. Jan. 21, 2021, the White House announced a number of U.S. DOT appointments, including several appointments to positions within FMCSA, PHMSA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.