OOIDA to FMCSA: Don’t again delay medical examiner final rule

May 25, 2021

Greg Grisolano

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s recent proposal to once again delay the compliance date for several provisions of the 2015 Medical Examiner’s Certification Integration final rule is “another troubling setback” for the agency, OOIDA’s president says.

In formal comments sent to FMCSA Administrator Meera Joshi, Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association President Todd Spencer writes that instead of another extension the agency should focus on addressing “repeated IT shortcomings” that have bedeviled the implementation process.

“These continued IT failures are unacceptable, especially as more and more agency systems transition to an online platform including the Entry-Level Driver Training Provider Registry,” Spencer wrote. “We hope that FMCSA will finally address these repeated IT shortcomings to ensure highway safety for all road users and protect personal privacy for drivers.”

Since issuing the 2015 final rule, there have been ongoing challenges associated with launching a new national registry IT system, including a cyberattack on the national registry website in December 2017. FMCSA has previously issued an interim final rule on June 21, 2018, extending the deadline for four of the rule’s provisions until June 22, 2021.

The supplemental notice blamed the hacking attempt and “other related actions” for affecting the schedule and resulting in the postponement of the compliance date via the 2018 interim final rule. Since then the agency says it has “experienced additional setbacks in its efforts to launch the national registry replacement system that require an additional delay.” It hired a new contractor in December 2020 to develop the system.

Spencer writes that the IT issues should make FMCSA realize ‘some technologies do not always deliver on their promise.’

“The agency should reject any rush to mandate unproven technology systems, such as automatic emergency brakes, speed limiters, or whatever is being promoted as the next magic bullet to improve highway safety,” he wrote. “The development of technology-related regulations must be conducted in a thorough manner with comprehensive oversight. If not, professional drivers will be among the first to experience any technology’s shortcomings, potentially creating serious safety concerns for our members and the motoring public.” LL

 

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Greg Grisolano joined Land Line in 2013. He was formerly a reporter for the Joplin Globe. He brings business writing and photography skills to Land Line, and has a passion for finding and telling stories about the people who make up the trucking industry.