Regulatory Updates – February 14, 2016

Update on Relevant Regulations:

FMCSA Announces Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse Rule

Earlier this week, FMCSA announced the pending release of the agency’s proposal for a National Drug and Alcohol Testing Clearinghouse for CMV drivers. The proposed rule will seek to establish a drug and alcohol clearinghouse for all CDL holders, making it easier to determine whether a truck or bus driver is prohibited from operating a CMV for failing to comply with federal drug and alcohol regulations, including mandatory testing. The proposal will be published later this month.

Update on Pending Rulemakings

DOT has published their February Report on Significant Rulemakings. The report updates the publication schedule for major rulemakings.

  • Electronic Logging Device proposal is due to be published on February 27.
  • CSA Safety Fitness Determination proposal is slated for publication in August.
  • MAP-21 Enhancements to the Unified Registration System is now scheduled to be published in October, rather than August.
  • Prohibition of Coercion rulemaking was sent to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) January 9 and publication is scheduled for April.

NHTSA to Hold Listening Session on Strategic Plan

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is currently finalizing its 2014–2018 strategic plan. The agency has announced that it will hold a public listening session to solicit public comment on emerging or potential traffic safety problems and solutions. The agency is seeking comments from all individuals and organizations that have an interest in motor vehicle and highway safety, consumer programs (e.g., fuel economy, vehicle theft, odometer fraud, tire performance, etc.) administered by the agency, and/or other NHTSA activities. During the session, NHTSA will give a brief overview of the plan, and then interested organizations will be provided 10 minutes to present comments to the agency. Written comments submitted to the docket are also welcome. The listening session will be held on February 24, 2014.

FMCSCA Seeks Comment on Motorcoach Exemption Request

FMCSA has reopened and extended the comment period for an exemption application submitted by Van Hool N.V. and Coach USA to allow the use of double deck motorcoaches constructed with a sleeper berth that has an exit that does not meet the minimum dimensional requirements specified in FMCSRs. Comments are due March 3, 2014.

FMCSA Seeking Comment on Hazardous Materials Routing Information Request

FMCSA plans to seek authorization from the OMB to extend an existing Information Collection Request (ICR) regarding “Transportation of Hazardous Materials, Highway Routing.” The information reported by States and Indian tribes is necessary to identify designated/restricted routes and restrictions or limitations affecting how motor carriers may transport certain hazardous materials on their highways, including dates that such routes were established and information on subsequent changes or new hazardous materials routing designations. Comments are due by March 17, 2014.

FMCSA Seeks Comment on Accident Recordkeeping Requirements

FMCSA plans to seek authorization from the OMB revise the ICR entitled “Accident Recordkeeping Requirements.” This ICR relates to agency requirements that motor carriers maintain a record of certain accidents involving CMVs. Motor carriers are not required to report this data to FMCSA, but must produce it upon inquiry by authorized Federal, State or local officials. Comments are due April 15, 2014.

Other Items of Interest:

GAO & FMCSA Release Conflicting Studies on CSA

On February 3, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released their review of the CSA program,FEDERAL MOTOR CARRIER SAFETY: Modifying the Compliance, Safety, Accountability Program Would Improve the Ability to Identify High Risk Carriers GAO-14-114. GAO was directed by Congress in 2012 to monitor the implementation of CSA. This report examines the effectiveness of the CSA program in assessing safety risk for motor carriers. In the report, GAO acknowledges that the CSA program has helped the agency reach more motor carriers than the previous program, in addition to a range of other safety benefits. However, the report criticizes the program, arguing that most regulations used to calculate SMS scores are not violated often enough to strongly associate them with crash risk, hampering the agency’s ability to accurately identify at-risk carriers. In addition, according to GAO, the system lacks sufficient data to be effective. GAO made two recommendations to improve the CSA model. First, GAO recommends that FMCSA revise the SMS methodology to better account for limitations in drawing comparisons of safety performance information across carriers. Second, GAO recommends that determination of a carrier’s fitness to operate should account for limitations in available performance information.

Meanwhile, days later, FMCSA released a report, The Carrier Safety Measurement System (CSMS) Effectiveness Test by Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs), conducted by the Volpe Center. According to the agency, the study confirms that the current SMS model is more effective than the previous system. Researchers analyzed the association between historical carrier data and future crash involvement by taking two years of pre-SMS safety data for a subset of carriers, running it through the system’s algorithm, and then following those companies’ crash records for eighteen months. The study indicates that companies the SMS would have identified for interventions, such as roadside inspections, warning letters and on-site investigations, had a future crash rate of more than double the national average. In addition, 79 percent of the carriers that SMS would have ranked as high risk in at least one of the seven safety categories it monitors had higher future crash rates compared to those it would not have identified.