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Regulatory Update – January 6, 2023

Update on Relevant U.S. Regulations

U.S. DOT Updates Civil Penalty Fines
On Jan. 6, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) published a final rule adjusting the civil penalty amounts that may be imposed for violations of certain DOT regulations for 2023. The final rule is effective Jan. 6.

FMCSA Requests Comments on Hazardous Materials Safety Permits ICR
On Jan. 6, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published a notice and request for comments on the agency’s intent to submit an information collection request (ICR) titled, “Hazardous Materials Safety Permits.” This ICR requires companies holding safety permits to develop communications plans that allow for the periodic tracking of the shipments. A record of the communications that includes the time of the call and location of the shipment may be kept by either the driver or the company. These records must be kept, either physically or electronically, for at least six months at the company’s principal place of business or readily available to the employees at the company’s principal place of business. This ICR is being renewed to update the number of motor carriers with an active Hazardous Materials Safety Permit from 987 to 1,065. Comments are due by March 7.

FMCSA Publishes NPRM on Broker and Freight Forwarder Financial Responsibility
On Jan. 5, FMCSA published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) implementing certain requirements under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act. The NPRM proposes regulations in five areas: assets readily available; immediate suspension of broker/freight forwarder operating authority; surety or trust responsibilities in cases of broker/freight forwarder financial failure or insolvency; enforcement authority; and entities eligible to provide trust funds for form BMC-85 trust fund filings. Comments are due by March 6.

FMCSA Requests Comments on CMV Crash Causation Study ICR
On Dec. 27, 2022, FMCSA published a notice and request for comments on the agency’s intent to submit an ICR regarding the “Study of Commercial Motor Vehicle Crash Causation,” mandated by Congress in the Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act. To plan and execute this study, FMCSA must collect information from states and local jurisdictions to understand their interest or ability to participate in the study; existing crash data-collection processes, systems and resources; and commercial motor vehicle (CMV) enforcement funding mechanisms and sources. Comments are due by Feb. 27.

FMCSA Seeks to Renew Designation of Agents, Motor Carriers, Brokers and Freight Forwarders ICR
Also on Dec. 27, 2022, FMCSA published a notice and request for comments on the agency’s intent to request approval to renew an ICR titled “Designation of Agents, Motor Carriers, Brokers and Freight Forwarders,” OMB control number 2126-0015. This is necessary to provide motor carriers, property brokers and freight forwarders a means of meeting process agent requirements. Comments are due by Jan. 26.

PHMSA Publishes Final Rule Correcting HMRs
On Dec. 27, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) published a final rule correcting editorial errors and improving the clarity of certain provisions in PHMSA’s program and procedural regulations and in the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMRs). The intent of this rulemaking is to enhance accuracy and reduce misunderstandings of the regulations. The amendments contained in this final rule are non-substantive changes and do not impose new requirements. The final rule is effective Jan. 26.

Update on Exemptions

FMCSA Grants Alaska ELDT Exemption Request
On Dec. 28, 2022, FMCSA announced its decision to grant a two-year exemption to Alaska from the limitations imposed by the commercial driver’s license (CDL) regulations on the state’s ability to issue restricted CDLs. The exemption allows Alaska to waive specified portions of the CDL skills test for drivers in 14 defined geographical areas that lack infrastructure to allow completion of the full skills test. Drivers who receive a restricted CDL under the provisions of this exemption are also exempt from the entry-level driver training (ELDT) regulations. The exemption is effective Dec. 28, 2022-Dec. 30, 2024.

FMCSA Grants Stevens Transport CLP/CDL Exemption
Also on Dec. 28, 2022, FMCSA announced its decision to grant the exemption application from Stevens Transport Inc. Stevens sought an exemption from the requirement that a commercial learner’s permit (CLP) holder be accompanied by a CDL holder with the proper CDL class and endorsements seated in the front seat of the vehicle while the CLP holder performs behind-the-wheel training on public roads or highways. The exemption allows a CLP holder who has passed the skills test but not yet received the CDL document to drive a Stevens CMV accompanied by a CDL holder who is not necessarily in the passenger seat, provided the driver has documentation of passing the skills test. The exemption is effective Dec. 28, 2022-Dec. 28, 2027.

FMCSA Renews APA Independence Day HOS/ELD Exemption
Also on Dec. 28, 2022, FMCSA announced its decision to grant exemptions for 32 member companies of the American Pyrotechnics Association (APA) from certain hours-of-service (HOS) regulations during designated Independence Day periods. The exemptions will allow drivers for these companies to exclude off-duty and sleeper berth time of any length from the calculation of the 14-hour limit and to use paper records of duty status in lieu of electronic logging devices (ELD). These exemptions are effective June 28-July 8 at 11:59 p.m. local time in 2023 and 2024.

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.