Regulatory Updates – December 23, 2015

Update on Relevant U.S. Regulations

FMCSA Extends Deadline for Medical Certification Forms

On December 21, 2015, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced a 120-day grace period during which Medical Examiners may use either the current or the newly revised versions of the Medical Examination Report (MER) Form and Medical Examiner’s Certificate (MEC). This period is from December 22, 2015, until April 20, 2016. This action is being taken to ensure that Medical Examiners have sufficient time to become familiar with the new forms and to program electronic medical records systems. Guidance is effective December 21, 2015.

PHMSA Issues Final Rule on the Safe Transportation of Explosives on Cargo Tank CMVs

On December 21, 2015, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued a final rule amending the Hazardous Materials Regulations by establishing standards for the safe transportation of explosives on cargo tank motor vehicles and multipurpose bulk trucks transporting materials for blasting operations. This rulemaking responds to two petitions for rulemaking submitted by industry representatives: P-1557, concerning the continued use of renewal applications, and P-1583, concerning the incorporation of an industry standard publication. Further, developing these requirements provides wider access to the regulatory flexibility currently only offered by special permits and competent authorities. The final rule is effective January 20, 2016.

FMCSA Officially Publishes ELD Final Rule

On December 16, 2015, FMCSA officially published the agency’s Electronic Logging Device (ELD) final rule. The rule amends the FMCSRs to establish minimum performance and design standards for hours-of-service (HOS) ELDs; requirements for the mandatory use of these devices by drivers currently required to prepare HOS records of duty status (RODS); requirements concerning HOS supporting documents; and measures to address concerns about harassment resulting from the mandatory use of ELDs. The rule is effective February 16, 2016. The compliance date is December 18, 2017. Carriers currently using Automatic On-Board Recording Devices (AOBRDs) have an additional two years to comply. Read the CVSA summary of the proposal.

NHTSA Officially Publishes Proposed Changes to Underride Guard Standards

On December 16, 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) officially published the agency’s proposed rule that would upgrade the FMVSS that address rear underride protection in crashes into trailers and semitrailers. NHTSA is proposing to adopt requirements of Transport Canada’s standard for underride guards, which require rear impact guards to provide sufficient strength and energy absorption to protect occupants of compact and subcompact passenger cars impacting the rear of trailers at 56 kilometers per hour (km/h) (35 miles per hour (mph)). Comments are due February 16, 2016.

DOT Issues Update on Significant Rulemakings

On December 15, 2015, DOT published its monthly Report on DOT Significant Rulemakings. The report included the following updates:

  • Safety Fitness Determination NPRM – publication has been delayed a month, from November 24, 2015 to December 29, 2015. The NPRM was approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on December 10, 2015.
  • CDL Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse Final Rule – publication has been delayed two weeks, from March 28, 2016 to April 15, 2016. The proposal was sent to the Office of the Secretary (OST) for approval November 30, 2015.
  • ELD Final Rule – published December 16, 2015.
  • MAP-21 Enhancements to the Unified Registration System NPRM – publication is still scheduled for August 2, 2016.
  • MAP-21 Prohibition of Coercion Final Rule – published November 30, 2015.
  • FMCSA/NHTSA Joint Rule on Heavy Vehicle Speed Limiters – publication is still scheduled for December 3, 2015. The proposal is still under review at OMB.
  • Entry-Level Driver Training NPRM – publication is still scheduled for December 28, 2015. The proposal is still under review at OMB.
  • State Inspection Programs for Passenger Carrier Vehicles Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) – publication has is still scheduled for January 29, 2016. The proposal was sent to OST for approval November 25, 2015.
  • Motorcoach Rollover Structural Integrity Final Rule – publication is still scheduled for May 21, 2016.
  • Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 150 – Vehicle to Vehicle (V2V) Communication NPRM – publication has been delayed two weeks, from March 14, 2016 to March 31, 2016.
  • Wetlines Final Rule Withdrawal – withdrawal has been delayed on month, from November 20, 2015 to December 18, 2015.

Update on Exemptions

FMCSA Issues Windshield Exemption to Volvo

On December 21, 2015, FMCSA issued a limited 2-year exemption from 49 CFR 393.60(e)(1) exemption to Volvo Trucks of North America’s (Volvo), allowing motor carriers operating Volvo commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) to use a rain and ambient light detection sensor mounted in the windshield area at a height lower than what is currently allowed by the regulation. The sensor is part of a hands-free driver aid equipment package intended to improve driver safety. The exemption is effective December 21, 2015 – December 20, 2017.

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 Lowers Controlled Substances Random Testing Rate for Calendar Year 2016

On December 21, 2015, FMCSA announced that it will lower the random testing rate for controlled substances from the current 50 percent to 25 percent for the upcoming calendar year, effective January 1, 2016.

FMCSA Launches New URS Registration Process

On December 12, 2015, FMCSA launched a new, simplified, online registration process that truck and bus companies, freight forwarders, brokers, intermodal equipment providers, and cargo tank manufacturing, inspection and repair facilities use as new applicants for USDOT registration. The first phase of the Unified Registration System (URS) combines multiple “legacy” reporting forms into a single, online “smart form” that streamlines the registration and renewal process, improves efficiency, reduces errors and, most importantly, strengthens safety for the motoring public. When fully implemented in 2016, URS will enable FMCSA to more readily identify unfit carriers and detect unsafe truck and bus companies seeking to evade Agency enforcement actions, including civil penalties, by attempting to regain USDOT registration by registering as a purported different, unrelated business entity.