Regulatory Updates – March 20, 2015

Update on Relevant U.S. Regulations

FMCSA Issues Exemptions, Requests Comments

On March 18, 2015, FMCSA granted several exemption requests.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announces its decision to grant the application of the Oregon Trucking Associations for a limited exemption from the Agency’s hours-of-service (HOS) regulation requiring commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers to take 30-minute rest breaks at specified intervals in their duty day. This exemption is limited to CMV drivers engaged in transporting timber from Oregon forestlands, and further limited to periods of the year in which the Oregon Department of Forestry has formally restricted logging operations to certain hours of the day due to an elevated risk of forest fire.

FMCSA renews Lytx, Inc.’s exemption which allows the placement of video event recorders within the swept area of the windshields on CMVs. Motor carriers may continue to use the video event recorders mounted in the windshield area to increase safety through (1) identification and remediation of risky driving behaviors such as distracted driving and drowsiness; (2) enhanced monitoring of passenger behavior for CMVs in passenger service; and (3) enhanced collision review and analysis.

FMCSA announces its decision to grant Mobileye, Inc.’s exemption application to enable motor carriers to utilize its camera-based collision avoidance systems (CAS) mounted within the swept area of the windshield wipers. The Mobileye CAS is able to warn drivers of potential hazards by detecting other vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists on the road, and lane markings and traffic signs. The agency believes the use of the CAS promotes improved safety performance and that the placement of the system in the swept area of the windshield wipers will not obstruct drivers’ view of the roadway and potential hazards.

The agency is also seeking comment on an HOS exemption renewal request.

FMCSA has received an application from Adirondack Trailways, Pine Hill Trailways, and New York Trailways for a renewal of their exemption from the HOS record of duty status provision in 49 CFR 395.8(c). The companies currently hold an exemption for the period of May 31, 2013 to May 31, 2015. FMCSA extended the exemption to include all regular-route passenger carriers and their drivers rather than limiting it to Trailways’ drivers. The application for a renewal of the exemption is for fixed-route carriers and their drivers who are often away from the controls of the vehicle for less than 10 minutes to assist passengers or make passenger pick-ups and dropoffs along the route. The renewal of the exemption would allow these drivers to perform their daily duties without having to record entries in the daily log for breaks in driving time of 10 minutes or less. Such activity would not be considered a change of duty status. Comments are due April 17, 2015.

Update on Other Rulemakings of Interest

On March 13, 2015, the Department of Transportation (DOT) published its monthly Report on DOT Significant Rulemakings. The report included the following updates:

  • Safety Fitness Determination Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) – the proposal has been resubmitted to OST for consideration, publication has been slightly delayed one month, from July 1, 2015 to July 15, 2015.
  • CDL Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse Final Rule – publication is still scheduled for December 14, 2015.
  • ELD Final Rule – publication is still scheduled for September 30, 2015.
  • Lease and Interchange of Vehicles for Passenger Motor Carriers Final Rule – publication is still scheduled for September 2015.
  • MAP-21 Enhancements to the Unified Registration System NPRM – publication is still scheduled for April of 2016.
  • MAP-21 Prohibition of Coercion Final Rule – publication is scheduled for September 2015.
  • FMCSA/NHTSA Joint Rule on Heavy Vehicle Speed Limiters – publication has been delayed slight, from June 8, 2015 to June 22, 2015.
  • Motorcoach Rollover Structural Integrity Final Rule – publication is still scheduled for December 2015.
  • Electronic Stability Control Systems for Heavy Vehicles Final Rule – publication is still scheduled for May 7, 2015.
  • Fuel Efficiency Standards for Medium-and Heavy-Duty Vehicles and Work Trucks NPRM – publication is still scheduled for March 2015.
  • Wetlines Final Rule – publication is still scheduled for August 2015.

FMCSA Issues Guidance on ENS Use for Annual Driver Record Review

On March 12, 2015, FMCSA issued regulatory guidance concerning the use of computerized employer notification systems (ENS) for the annual inquiry and review of driving records. The guidance explains the use of State-operated ENS that provide motor carriers with a department of motor vehicle report for every State in which the driver held either an operator’s license, a commercial driver’s license (CDL), or permit when a driver is enrolled in the system. The guidance is effective March 12, 2015.

Other Items of Interest

FMCSA Issues HOS Restart Study Plan

On March 19, 2015, FMCSA released the study plan for the congressionally mandated HOS restart study. The plan explains how the research team will measure and compare the fatigue and safety performance levels of drivers who take two or more nighttime rest periods during their 34-hour restart break and those drivers who take one nighttime rest period during their restart break. The plan includes the assessment technologies being used, study procedures, and the sampling plan and data analyses. FMCSA is still seeking drivers to participate in the study.

MCSAC to Discuss ‘Alternative/Beyond Compliance’ Concept at March Meeting

On March 16, 2015, FMCSA announced that the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee (MCSAC) will meet March 30-31 to discuss and analyze data to support 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 meeting will be open to the public for its entirety with a public comment period at the end of each day.