Regulatory Updates – March 18, 2016

Update on Relevant U.S. Regulations

DOT Update on Significant Rulemakings

On March 17, 2016, the Department of Transportation (DOT) published its monthly Report on DOT Significant Rulemakings. The report included the following updates:

  • MAP-21 Enhancements to the Unified Registration System NPRM – Publication is still scheduled for Jan. 18, 2017.
  • CDL Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse Final Rule – Publication has been delayed just over one month, from June 17, 2016, to July 28, 2016.
  • FMCSA/NHTSA Joint Rule on Heavy Vehicle Speed Limiters – Publication has been delayed just over one month, from March 15, 2016, to April 28, 2016.
  • State Inspection Programs for Passenger Carrier Vehicles Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) – Publication has been moved up, from June 6, 2016, to March 30, 2016.
  • Motorcoach Rollover Structural Integrity Final Rule – Publication has been delayed two months, from July 6, 2016, to Sept. 6, 2016.
  • Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 150 – Vehicle to Vehicle (V2V) Communication NPRM – Publication is still scheduled for April 18, 2016.

FMCSA NPRM on CDL Requirements for Military Personnel

On March 16, 2016, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to amend its commercial driver’s license (CDL) regulations to ease the transition of military personnel into civilian careers in the truck and bus industry by simplifying the process of getting a commercial learner’s permit (CLP) or CDL. This rulemaking would extend the time period for applying for a skills test waiver from 90 days to one year after leaving a military position requiring the operation of a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). This rulemaking also would allow states to accept applications and administer the written and skills tests for a CLP or CDL from active duty military personnel stationed in that state. States that choose to accept such applications would be required to transmit the test results electronically to the state of domicile of the military personnel. The state of domicile would be required to issue the CDL or CLP on the basis of those results. Comments are due by May 16, 2016.

PHMSA Publishes Updates on Special Permits

On March 16, 2016, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) published updates on Special Permit Applications.

FMCSA Extends Compliance Date of Bus Leasing and Interchange Final Rule

On March 15, 2016, FMCSA announced that it extended the compliance date of its final rule, which identifies motor carriers transporting passengers in interstate commerce and assigns responsibility to those carriers for regulatory violations during inspections, compliance investigations and crash investigations. The original compliance date, set as Jan. 1, 2017, has been delayed one year, to Jan. 1, 2018, to allow FMCSA an opportunity to review and/or adjust the final rule due to a number of petitions for reconsideration. Compliance date is Jan. 1, 2018.

FHWA Final Rule on National Performance Management Measures

On March 15, 2016, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) announced its final rule to establish performance measures for state departments of transportation (state DOT) to use to carry out the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) and to assess the: number of motor vehicle crash-related serious injuries and fatalities; number of serious injuries and fatalities of non-motorized users; and serious injuries and fatalities per vehicle miles traveled (VMT). The FHWA issued this final rule based on section 1203 of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), which identifies national transportation goals and requires the secretary to promulgate a rulemaking to establish performance measures and standards in specified federal-aid highway program areas. The FHWA also considered the provisions in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) in the development of this final rule. Final rule effective April 14, 2016.

FHWA Final Rule on the Highway Safety Improvement Program

On March 15, 2016, FHWA announced changes to the HSIP regulations to address provisions in MAP-21 as well as to incorporate clarifications to better explain existing regulatory language. The DOT also considered the HSIP provisions in the FAST Act in the development of the HSIP final rule. Specifically, this rule removes the requirement for states to prepare a Transparency Report that describes not less than 5 percent of locations that exhibit the most severe safety needs, removes the High Risk Rural Roads (HRRR) set-aside, and removes the 10 percent flexibility provision for states to use safety funding in accordance with federal law. This rule also establishes a subset of roadway data elements, and creates procedures to ensure states adopt and use the subset. Finally, this rule adds State Strategic Highway Safety Plan update requirements and requires states to report HSIP performance targets. Final rule effective April 14, 2016.

FMCSA and FRA Joint ANPRM on Obstructive Sleep Apnea

On March 8, 2016, FMCSA and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) released a joint Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM). Both agencies are looking for public comments on the impacts of screening, evaluating, and treating rail workers and CMV drivers for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). FMCSA and FRA will consider whether to propose requirements specifically on OSA, and will hold three public listening sessions. Currently, FMCSA recommends that medical examiners refer CMV drivers with OSA for further evaluation and therapy. Comments are due by June 8, 2016.

FMCSA Changes the Definition of a High Risk Motor Carrier

On March 7, 2016, FMCSA announced its efforts to improve the carrier prioritization process to enable safety investigators to take more immediate action against carriers with the highest crash risk. Specifically, FMCSA announced a new high risk motor carrier definition, as well as associated investigative procedural changes. These changes correspond with the “Blueprint for Safety Leadership: Aligning Enforcement and Risk” report issued by a Federal Aviation Administration Independent Review Team (IRT) in July 2014. The IRT recommended that FMCSA sharpen its priority-setting focus and improve the timeliness of investigator actions on those motor carriers representing the highest risk. This notice explains the agency’s new high risk motor carrier definition and associated investigative procedural changes. Comments are due by May 6, 2016.

Update on Exemptions

Illumination Fireworks Application for Exemption Renewal

On March 16, 2016, FMCSA announced that it received an application from Illumination Fireworks, LLC and ACE Pyro, LLC for a renewal of their exemption from the requirement that drivers of CMVs must not drive following the 14th hour after coming on duty. The applicants requested the exemption for the period of June 28-July 8, for the next five years (2016-2020) inclusive. The applicants were previously granted an exemption for drivers of 50 CMVs during the Independence Day period of June 28-July 8, 2015. The exemption would apply solely to the operation of drivers of 50 CMVs employed by the applicants in conjunction with staging fireworks shows celebrating Independence Day during the proposed periods. During these periods, CMV drivers employed by the applicants would be allowed to exclude off-duty and sleeper-berth time of any length from the calculation of the 14 hours. These drivers would not be allowed to drive after accumulating a total of 14 hours of on-duty time, following 10 consecutive hours off duty, and would continue to be subject to the 11-hour driving time limit, and the 60- and 70-hour on-duty limits. Comments are due by April 15, 2016.

SC&RA HOS Exemption Request

On March 16, 2016, FMCSA announced that it received an application from the Specialized Carriers & Rigging Association (SC&RA) seeking exemption from two provisions of the agency’s hours-of-service (HOS) CMV drivers. SC&RA asks that motor carriers and drivers operating mobile cranes with a rated lifting capacity of greater than 30 tons be exempted from the 30-minute break requirement and the 14-hour rule. SC&RA believes these two HOS rules uniquely affect the operational efficiency of crane operations and unnecessarily place the driver and public at risk. Comments are due by April 15, 2016.

Great Lakes Timer Professionals Association Exemption Request

On March 16, 2016, FMCSA announced that it received an application for exemption from the Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association (GLTPA) to allow GLTPA motor carriers in Wisconsin to use cargo securement methods that do not comply with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) for securing shortwood logs transported lengthwise in crib-type vehicles that have been modified or manufactured without front structures, rear structures, or which have a center-mounted crane for loading and unloading. The GLTPA and the Wisconsin State Patrol Motor Carrier Enforcement Section partnered to conduct cargo securement testing on stacks of shortwood logs in a crib-type vehicle using different tiedown configurations. Based on this testing, GLTPA believes the alternative cargo securement methods for securing shortwood logs loaded lengthwise proposed in its application will maintain a level of safety that is equivalent to, or greater than, the level of safety achieved without the exemption. Comments are due April 15, 2016.

CVSA Active Exemption Tracker

CVSA maintains a list of active exemptions issued by FMCSA. Members can access the document by logging into their CVSA member account and clicking on the “Exemptions Tracker” tab at the top of the page.

Other Items of Interest

FMCSA Acceptance on NOM-068

On March 16, 2016, FMCSA announced its acceptance of the Norma Official Mexicana ((NOM) or Official Mexican Standard) concerning the periodic inspection (PI) of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs). The agency reviewed NOM-068-SCT-2-2014 (NOM 68) and determined that it should be added to the list of programs which are comparable to, or as effective as, the federal PI requirements contained in the FMCSRs. FMCSA’s acceptance of NOM 68 means that Mexico-domiciled motor carriers operating in the United States must ensure their CMVs are inspected annually as required by the Secretaría de Comunicaciones y Transportes (SCT). The motor carrier must retain a copy of the inspection report and a sticker/decal must be affixed to the vehicle in order to satisfy the PI requirements in the United States. These motor carriers will no longer have the option of relying on their employees to conduct inspections of the CMVs the carrier controls, using commercial garages for such inspections, or passing a roadside inspection based on criteria published by CVSA to comply with the periodic inspection requirements at 49 CFR part 396. Effective March 16, 2016.

FMCSA Notice of Public Listening Session on Voluntary Compliance

On March 16, 2016, FMCSA announced two public listening sessions to be held on April 1 and 25, 2016, to solicit information on the potential benefits and feasibility of voluntary compliance and ways to credit carriers and drivers who initiate and establish programs that promote safety beyond the standards established in FMCSA regulations. The FAST Act mandates that FMCSA allow for a motor carrier that installs advanced safety equipment, enhanced driver fitness measures, fleet safety management tools, technologies, and programs and other standards for use by motor carriers to receive recognition, including credit or an improved Safety Measurement System (SMS) percentile. The listening sessions are intended to provide interested parties with an opportunity to share their views, data or analysis on this topic with agency representatives. The April 25 listening session will be held at the CVSA Workshop in Chicago, Illinois. Both listening sessions will be webcast.

ITS Program Advisory Committee Meeting

On March 11, 2016, the U.S. DOT announced its Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Program Advisory Committee will meet on March 31, 2016, in Arlington, Virginia, to further discuss the study, development and implementation of intelligent transportation systems. This meeting is open to the public. Written comments
may be submitted not later than March 24, 2016.

FMCSA Restores Property Carrier’s ‘Absolute Measures’

On March 7, 2016, FMCSA restored property carriers’ absolute measures to the public. The FAST Act previously prohibited FMCSA from displaying property carriers’ relative percentile. FMCSA modified the Safety Management System (SMS) to now be compliant with the FAST Act, displaying measures which are generated directly from safety data and not based on relative comparison to other motor carriers.

National Academies of Sciences to Study CSA’s Effectiveness in Identifying High Risk Truck and Bus Companies

On March 7, 2016, FMCSA announced that, in response to the FAST Act, the agency has commissioned the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to carry out a study on the accuracy with which the Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) safety measures used in the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) and the SMS identify high risk carriers and predict or are correlated with future crash risk or other safety indicators for motor carriers.

FMCSA Launches Petition and Exemption Trackers

FMCSA launched two new trackers – a petitions tracker and an exemptions tracker. The petitions tracker, which was mandated by the FAST Act and will be updated by FMCSA every 30 days, tracks the status of petitions filed, the petition summary and the petitioner; while the exemptions tracker tracks active FMCSA exemptions, including who is exempt, the filing organization and the effective/expiration dates.