Unfit motor carrier notice planned for March

January 23, 2023

Mark Schremmer

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Truckers will have to wait a little longer to learn how the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration plans to identify unfit carriers and remove them from the roadways.

The agency had been scheduled to publish an advance notice of proposed rulemaking regarding safety fitness procedures on Jan. 30. However, that notice now isn’t expected to be released until March, according to the Unified Regulatory Agenda.

“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 agenda 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.

During the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association’s Board of Directors meetings in November, board members told FMCSA Administrator Robin Hutcheson that there is a distinction between compliance and safety.

“There is a difference between compliance and crashes,” OOIDA Board Member Danny Schnautz said. “We all know that just complying with a regulation doesn’t necessarily make you safer.”

Although FMCSA is expected to publish its notice on safety fitness procedures in March, there remains a long process before the agency 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

FMCSA also has rulemakings planned in 2023 regarding speed limiters, electronic IDs, electronic logging devices and automated driving systems. LL

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.