FMCSA to revive new entrant rulemaking

December 28, 2023

Mark Schremmer

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration plans to revisit a rulemaking that was previously considered in 2009.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Fall 2023 Unified Regulatory Agenda, FMCSA plans to publish an advance notice of proposed rulemaking regarding new entrants in July 2024.

The New Entrant Safety Assurance Process rulemaking “would consider methods for ensuring a new applicant carrier is knowledgeable about the applicable safety requirements before being granted new entrant authority.”

FMCSA’s advance notice would solicit feedback about the potential implementation of a proficiency exam as part of the process for new entrants.

The question is not a new one, however. The Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety petitioned the agency in 2009 to develop ways to ensure that new entrants possess the necessary knowledge.

Background

FMCSA published a final rule in December 2008 that raised the standard of compliance for passing a new entrant safety audit.

The final rule:

  • Adopted an automatic failure component for the safety audit
  • Strengthened the safety monitoring element of the program by using incidents or regulatory violations to trigger expedited action
  • Eliminated the requirement to self-certify to pre-operational knowledge of the federal safety standards
  • Proposed a new application process and safety monitoring system for motor carriers that are not domiciled in North America

In January 2009, the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety filed a petition for reconsideration, saying that the final rule contained no data demonstrating that the new process would improve the operating safety of new entrants through their knowledge of regulations.

The petition prompted FMCSA to publish an advance notice of proposed rulemaking in August 2009. The advance notice received 13 comments, but FMCSA never followed with a formal proposal.

Rulemaking revisited

According to the regulatory agenda, FMCSA said its rulemaking planned for July will respond to issues raised in the safety group’s petition.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association said it believes the best approach would be to enhance the agency’s entry-level driver training program.

“FMCSA has reopened a dormant rulemaking exploring the idea of proficiency examinations following the uptick in new carrier registrations over the last couple of years,” said Jay Grimes, OOIDA’s director of federal affairs. “Ideally, new entrant safety can best be achieved through more comprehensive entry-level driver training requirements that effectively teach CDL skills and assure sufficient knowledge of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. In 2009, OOIDA questioned if a compulsory proficiency exam would better identify safe carriers if the agency did not explore more detailed information about new entrants. We are curious to see specifically what FMCSA will propose in the forthcoming notice.” LL

Related: Read more stories about FMCSA’s regulatory agenda.