Update on Relevant Regulations
FMCSA Renews Two Video Event Recorder Exemptions
On March 22, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) renewed two separate exemption requests regarding the placement of video event recorders at the top of the windshields on commercial motor vehicles (CMVs). The exemptions were for Greyhound and DriveCam and were effective March 21st. Comments are due April 22, 2013.
MCSAC Meeting Announced – April 8-10
FMCSA has announced that the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee (MCSAC) will meet April 8-10 in Alexandria, VA. The group will complete work on the issue of entry-level driver training, and will receive updates from the CSA Subcommittee and FMCSA on several topics, including the recent exemptions for DriveCam and Greyhound. On April 10, the CSA Subcommittee will meet to continue its ongoing review of the CSA program.
PHMSA Issue Final Rule Amending HMRs
On March 11, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration issued a Final Rule This final rule adopts amendments to the Hazardous Materials Regulations that were identified through a retrospective review of the HMR, letters of interpretation and internal regulatory correction suggestions. These amendments are designed to promote safer transportation practices; eliminate unnecessary regulatory requirements; incorporate a special permit into the regulations; facilitate international commerce; and simplify the regulations. Among the provisions, PHMSA is adopting amendments to update various entries in the Hazardous Materials Table and corresponding special provisions, clarify the lab pack requirements for temperature-controlled materials, and revise the training requirements to require that a hazardous material employer must make hazardous materials employee training records available upon request to an authorized official. The rule is effective May 10, 2013. Voluntary compliance with all amendments is authorized March 11, 2013.
FMCSA Issues Final Rule on MAP-21 Agricultural Exemptions
On March 14, FMCSA published a Final Rule addressing both the HOS for agricultural commodities exemption and the Covered Farm Vehicle exemption included in MAP-21. The Final Rule was effective that same day.
- HOS Exemption for Transportation of Agricultural Commodities
Section 32101(d) of MAP-21, implemented as 49 CFR 395.1(k), expands an hours-of-service (HOS) exemption for farm-related operations during the planting and harvesting season (as defined by each State) that has been in effect since 1995. Under the new provision, drivers transporting agricultural commodities within a 150 (instead of 100) air-mile radius of the farm or source of the commodities are exempt from the HOS rules. Also exempt are retailers delivering farm supplies for agricultural purposes within a 150 (instead of 100) air-mile radius of their distribution point to a farm or other place where the supplies will be used, and wholesalers delivering farm supplies within the same radius to a retailer, farm, or place where they will be used.
- Covered Farm Vehicles Exemption
Section 32934 of MAP-21 created a new set of exemptions for “covered farm vehicles” (CFVs) and their drivers. The definition of a CFV is discussed in the Final Rule. Briefly, CFVs and their drivers are exempt from the commercial driver’s license (CDL) and drug and alcohol testing regulations; the medical qualification requirements; the hours of service limits; and vehicle inspection, repair and maintenance rules. Vehicles transporting placardable quantities of hazardous materials are not eligible for these exemptions.
Other Items of Interest
On Friday, March 15th, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia heard final arguments in the ongoing hours of service (HOS) legal challenge. The court is now expected to issue a ruling in June of this year. Meanwhile, Members of Congress sent two separate letters to DOT Secretary LaHood, encouraging him to delay implementation of the new HOS rule, set for July 1, until after the court makes its ruling. CVSA and ATA both sent similar letters to FMCSA Administrator Ferro earlier this year.
IIHS Study on Trailer Underride Guards
Earlier this month, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) released information on a new round of crash tests conducted on trailer underride guards. The study found that, while the guards can help save lives, there is room for improvement. Specifically, IIHS found that, while effective when a vehicle collides with the center of the guard, effective rates go down when the collision occurs towards the outside edges of the guardrails. IIHS has petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to set higher standards.