Regulatory Updates – Jan. 9, 2015

Update on Relevant U.S. Regulations

FMCSA Seeking Comment on HOS Exemption Request for CMV Drivers Transporting Bees

On January 8, 2015, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a notice of application for exemption and request for comments regarding the California Farm Bureau Federation’s (CFBF) application for an exemption that would enable commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers transporting bees to operate without taking the 30-minute break during the workday. Comments are due February 9, 2015.

PHMSA Announces Changes to HMRs

On January 8, 2015, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued a Final Ruleamending the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMRs) to maintain alignment with international standards by incorporating various amendments, including changes to proper shipping names, hazard classes, packing groups, special provisions, packaging authorizations, air transport quantity limitations, and vessel stowage requirements. The Final Rule is effective January 1, 2015. The Compliance Date is January 1, 2016; however, PHMSA is authorizing voluntary compliance beginning January 1, 2015. In addition, the incorporation by reference of certain publications listed in this rule is approved by the Director of the Federal Register as of January 1, 2015.

FMCSA Announces UCR Board Meeting

On January 7, 2015, FMCSA announced an upcoming meeting of the Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) Plan Board of Directors. The meeting will be held January 22, 2015. The meeting will be open to the public via conference call.

PHMSA Publishes Updates on Special Permits

In January 2015, PHMSA published several updates on Special Permit Applications.

FMCSA Publishes HOS Notice of Suspension of Enforcement

On December 22, 2014, FMCSA issued the official Notice suspending enforcement of the requirements regarding the restart of a driver’s 60- or 70-hour limit that drivers were required to comply with beginning July 1, 2013. According to the Notice, the restart provisions have no force or effect from December 16, 2014, through the period of suspension, and such provisions are replaced with the previous restart provisions in effect on June 30, 2013. The suspension of enforcement of § 395.3(c) and (d) was effective December 16, 2014.

FMCSA to Hold Listening Sessions on Possible Passenger CMV Annual Inspection Program

Also on December 22, 2014, FMCSA announced that it will hold two public listening sessions on January 13 and 18, 2015, to solicit information on the agency’s intent to initiate a rulemaking requiring States to establish a program for annual inspections of CMVs designed or used to transport passengers. FMCSA must assess the risks associated with improperly maintained or inspected CMVs designed or used to transport passengers; the effectiveness of existing Federal standards for the inspection of such vehicles in mitigating the risks associated with improperly maintained vehicles and ensuring the safe and proper operation condition of such vehicles; and the costs and benefits of a mandatory inspection program.

Other Items of Interest

FMCSA to Keep Random Drug Testing at 50 Percent

On December 31, 2014, FMCSA announced that the agency would continue to require that the trucking industry randomly test at least 50 percent of its drivers for drug and alcohol use during 2015. While the trucking industry had been hoping to see a reduction in the minimum testing requirement, FMCSA has decided not to change the requirement after recent data indicated an increase in positive test results.

2013 NHTSA Crash Data Released

On December 19, 2014, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released the 2013 Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data that shows a 3.1 percent decrease from the previous year and a nearly 25 percent decline in overall highway deaths since 2004. However, U.S. fatalities from crashes involving large trucks increased by 0.5% in 2013, rising to 3,964 from 3,944 people the year before. While the increase was small, it is the fourth straight increase in annual large truck-involved fatalities since 2009.