Regulatory Updates – December 20, 2013

Update on Relevant Regulations:

FMCSA Issues HOS Guidance on 30 Minute Break Requirement for Drivers Who Become Ineligible for the ‘Short Haul’ Exception

On December 19, FMCSA published Regulatory Guidance on the 30-minute rest break requirement for drivers who become ineligible for the ”Short-Haul” exception during the duty day. The guidance addresses application of the 30-minute break rule to drivers who begin their duty days as ”short haul” drivers exempt from the break rule, but who occasionally exceed the short haul distance or time limits. Such drivers are then subject to the break requirement and must prepare a record-of-duty- status (RODS) for the day. The intent of the break rule would be satisfied if drivers in these situations take a break at the earliest safe opportunity after exceeding the short haul limits and explain in a RODS annotation why the rest break was not taken within the required 8 hours of the last off-duty break of at least 30 minutes. The guidance was effective December 19, 2013.

Transport Canada Amends Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations

On December 18, the Government of Canada announced in the Canada Gazette regulations amending the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act.

  • Standard 121, Air Brake Systems
  • Standard 206, Door Locks and Door Retention Components
  • Standard 223, Rear Impact Guards, as it relates to aerodynamic devices
  • Standard 301.2, CNG Fuel System Integrity

These Regulations come into force on the day on which they are published in the Canada Gazette, Part II.

FMCSA Proposes Changes to Vision Exemption Requirements

On December 18, FMCSA issued a Proposed Change to Criteria and Request for Comments regarding the current eligibility requirements for the Agency’s Vision Exemption Program. FMCSA proposes to change the current 3-year driving experience criterion to either continue to require driving experience but decrease the period from 3 years to 1 year of operating with the vision deficiency OR eliminate the driving experience criterion. The current criteria have been in place since the program began in 1998. Comments are due January 17, 2014.

FHWA Extends S&W Study Comment Period

On December 19, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) announced that it would be extending the deadline for comments on materials associated with the Agency’s Comprehensive Truck Size & Weight Limits Study, mandated by the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21). Comments are now due January 17, 2014.

FMCSA Extends Comment Period for Proposed SMS Website Display Changes

FMCSA has extended the comment period for the proposed redesign of the Safety Measurement System (SMS) public website. Comments are now due by January 21, 2014. The Agency will continue to review and consider other comments through the Federal Register Notice and will provide a formal response, which may include additional changes intended to clarify and improve the display, after the comment period closes.

FMCSA Seeks Comment on Hazardous Materials Safety Permit Information Request

On December 10, FMCSA issued a Notice and Request for Comment, announcing the Agency’s plan to submit an Information Collection Request (ICR) to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The request seeks approval to revise and extend an existing ICR entitled, “Hazardous Materials Safety Permits”. This ICR requires companies holding permits to develop communications plans that allow for the periodic tracking of the shipments. Comments are due February 10, 2014.

OR Trucking Association Request Exemption from 30-minute Rest Break Requirement

On December 10, FMCSA issued a Notice and Request for Comments on an exemption request from the Oregon Trucking Association (OTA). OTA is seeking a limited exemption from the 30-minute rest-break HOS requirement. The exemption request is for motor carriers and their drivers who transport timber from Oregon forestlands during periods in which fire safety restrictions limit their hours of operation.

FMCSA Agrees to Study Sleeper Birth Flexibility for HOS Rules

FMCSA will be conducting a pilot program on split rest times for those who drive sleeper berths, after receiving a letter requesting such a study from the American Trucking Association and the Minnesota Trucking Association.

FMCSA to Hold Listening Session at ABA Marketplace on New Entrant Testing

FMCSA will hold a public listening session concerning implementation of the MAP-21 requirements concerning knowledge testing of new entrant motor carriers of property, motor carriers of passengers, household goods carriers, freight forwarders and brokers. Participants are invited to share their view with the FMCSA on potential test topics, the process for delivering or administering the test to new entities registering with the Agency, and which specific employees or representatives of the new entrant entity should be required to take test.

Other Items of Interest:

Leadership Changes at US DOT

Two senior DOT officials have announced that they will be leaving the agency. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Administrator David Strickland announced his departure last week. Deputy Administrator David Friedman will take his place as the agency’s acting leader. Deputy Transportation Secretary John Porcari also announced his departure last week.

FHWA Extends Comment Period for Designation of Primary Freight Network

On December 11, FHWA announced that it would be extending the deadline for comments on the Designation of the highway Primary Freight Network (PFN) notice, which was published on November 19, 2013. The new deadline is January 17, 2014.

FMCSA’s Operation Quick Strike Removed 52 Unsafe Bus Companies From the Road

On December 12, FMCSA announced that 52 bus companies and 340 vehicles were put out of business and removed from the road as a result of Operation Quick Strike, an eight-month intensified effort to shut down unsafe motorcoach companies. The intensified effort was part of FMCSA’s three-phase Motorcoach Safety Initiative to raise the bar for safety in the motorcoach industry and to strengthen the agency’s oversight methods. More than 50 specially trained investigators were dispatched from April through November to conduct in-depth reviews into the patterns and practices of the 250 most at-risk motorcoach companies, identified using roadside inspection and safety data. Company-wide failures to adequately maintain their buses, inadequate drug and alcohol driver testing programs and widespread hours-of-service violations were among the reasons companies were shut down. In addition, inspectors assessed the levels of safety for more than 1,300 carriers that had minimal inspection history or data with the agency. More than 240 have been targeted for follow-up investigations.

DOT IOG Issues Report on Necessary Improvements in FMCSA’s Plan for Inspecting Buses at the United States-Mexico Border

On November 26, the DOT’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) issued a report on FMCSA’s compliance with certain congressionally mandated safety requirements for cross-border transportation. While OIG found that FMCSA generally complies with the requirements, the report includes five recommendations to improve FMCSA’s implementation of the NAFTA cross-border provisions and its bus safety plan. FMCSA concurred with all five recommendations.