FMCSA eyes rule to identify, remove unfit motor carriers

October 20, 2022

Mark Schremmer

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration wants to get unfit motor carriers off the roads.

In January, the agency is expected to publish an advance notice of proposed rulemaking aimed at learning more effective ways to do so.

The notice on safety fitness procedures is projected to be released on Jan. 30, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s latest Significant Rulemaking Report.

“FMCSA is seeking information on how the agency might use data and resources more effectively to identify unfit motor carriers and to remove them from the nation’s roadways,” the report stated. “FMCSA would seek public comment about the use of available safety data, including inspection data, in determining carrier fitness to operate.”

The agency also is expected to seek public input on potential changes to the current three-tier safety fitness rating structure of satisfactory, conditional and unsatisfactory. The action also is expected to include a review of the list of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations that FMCSA uses in its safety fitness rating methodology.

Although the unfit motor carriers notice is expected in the coming months, it would still be a long time before FMCSA could issue a final rule. Following an advance notice of proposed rulemaking, the regulatory process requires a notice of proposed rulemaking and a final rule. Each stage of the process includes a public comment period.

Other FMCSA rulemakings

The Significant Rulemaking Report outlined several rulemakings that FMCSA is working on, including a speed limiter mandate and automatic emergency braking systems.

In June, FMCSA is expected to publish a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking regarding the requirement of speed limiters on most commercial motor vehicles.

“FMCSA intends to proceed with a motor carrier-based speed limiter rulemaking,” the agency wrote in the report.

In May, FMCSA issued an advance notice supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking to get feedback. Under the initial proposal, commercial motor vehicles with a gross vehicle weight of 26,001 pounds or more and that are equipped with an electronic engine control unit capable of being governed would be subject to the mandate.

A speed had not been determined, but previous proposals floated the possibilities of 60, 65 or 68 miles per hour. The proposal released in June will likely set a top-end speed for heavy-duty trucks.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association strongly opposes a speed limiter mandate. The OOIDA Foundation points to research that says the frequency of interactions with other vehicles increases 227% when traveling 10 mph below the speed of traffic.

FMCSA received about 15,000 comments on its May notice with the majority coming from truck drivers opposed to a mandate.

NHTSA and FMCSA are also planning to publish a joint rulemaking regarding automatic emergency braking systems in January.

The agencies will seek comments on a proposal to require and/or standardize equipment performance for automatic emergency braking systems on heavy trucks.

The rulemaking is expected to propose performance standards and motor carrier maintenance requirements for automatic emergency brakes on heavy trucks and accompanying test procedures for measuring performance.

FMCSA’s agenda also includes forthcoming rulemakings regarding Mexico-domiciled motor carriers, consumer complaints, the Unified Registration System, brokers, automated driving systems, employment applications and ag haulers. LL

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Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.