Arguably, the most significant item in this report is FMCSA’s notice of proposed rulemaking to amend certain Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations “to ensure the safe introduction of automated driving systems (ADS)-equipped commercial motor vehicles onto the Nation's roadways.”    -  File Photo: Vesna Brajkovic

Arguably, the most significant item in this report is FMCSA’s notice of proposed rulemaking to amend certain Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations “to ensure the safe introduction of automated driving systems (ADS)-equipped commercial motor vehicles onto the Nation's roadways.”  

File Photo: Vesna Brajkovic

The Department of Transportation’s latest Significant Rulemakings Report indicates which key rulemakings its agencies, including the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, will focus on moving forward over the course of this year. 

Chief among these are actions pertaining to rulemakings on autonomous trucks, broker financial responsibility, and Safety Fitness Procedures.

The monthly reports provide a summary and status of all rulemakings deemed “significant” that are currently pending or issued recently by DOT. This information is “not intended to commit DOT to specific conclusions or actions,” DOT has stated. “For example, after further analysis, DOT may decide the effects of he rule would be different or it may decide to terminate the rulemaking,” DOT has stated.

Think of the report as a roadmap to where key rulemaking actions are going and when they are supposed to arrive at their next destination in the process.

The final draft published for DOT’s most recent report includes for FMCSA an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (pre-rule); two notices of proposed rules (the first stage), and several announcements of items whose next action is listed only as “undetermined.”

Autonomous Systems

Arguably, the most significant item in this report is FMCSA’s notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to amend certain Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations “to ensure the safe introduction of automated driving systems (ADS)-equipped commercial motor vehicles onto the Nation's roadways.”  

The proposed changes to truck operation, inspection, repair, and maintenance regulations “prioritize safety and security, promote innovation, foster a consistent regulatory approach to ADS-equipped CMVs, and recognize the difference between human operators and ADS,” noted the agency. The projected publication date for this NPRM is Nov. 23.

Broker Financial Responsibility

Of importance also is an NPRM on broker and freight forwarder financial responsibility. FMCSA said it will propose changes to the broker/freight forwarder financial responsibility requirements as required by MAP-21 highway bill. The agency said MAP-21 raised the financial security amount for brokers to $75,000 and, for the first time, established financial security requirements for freight forwarders.

The agency is considering eight separate areas: Group surety bonds/trust funds, assets readily available, immediate suspension of broker/freight forwarder operating authority, surety or trust responsibilities in cases of broker/freight forwarder financial failure or insolvency, enforcement authority, entities eligible to provide trust funds for form BMC-85 trust fund filings, Form BMC-84 and BMC-85 trust fund revisions, and household goods (HHG). The projected publication date for this NPRM is Dec. 15.

Safety Fitness Procedures

FMCSA is also preparing an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking on Safety Fitness Procedures. The agency is seeking information on how it “might use data and resources more effectively to identify unfit motor carriers and to remove them from the Nation's roadways.”

The public comment sought would be about the use of available safety data, including inspection data, in determining carrier fitness to operate. FMCSA would also seek public input on possible changes to the current three-tier safety fitness rating structure. The action would also include a review of the list of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations that FMCSA uses in its safety fitness rating methodology. The projected publication date for this ANPRM is coming up fast, on May 24.

Heavy Truck AEB

Also, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration plans to issue an NPRM on heavy vehicle automatic emergency braking (AEB).  This notice will seek comments on a proposal to require and/or standardize equipment performance for AEB braking on heavy trucks. The agency noted that for several years, it has researched forward collision avoidance and mitigation technology on heavy vehicles, including forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking systems. This rulemaking proposes test procedures for measuring performance of these systems. The projected publication date for this NPRM is just around the corner, on April 30.

Rulemaking actions listed by FMCSA with “undertermined” dates include:

  • Heavy Vehicle Speed Limiters. This joint NHTSA/FMCSA rulemaking would respond to petitions from the American Trucking Associations and Roadsafe America to require the installation of speed limiting devices on heavy vehicles.
  • Application for Employment. FMCSA is considering changes to the requirement to have prospective drivers complete an employment application. The agency is seeking comment on the “value of and need for this requirement.” Comment also is sought on ways the requirement for an employment application could be changed to reduce paperwork burdens for drivers and motor carriers-- “including but not limited to the complete elimination of the requirement.”
  • Mexico-Domiciled Motor Carriers. This rulemaking would change regulations to govern applications by Mexican carriers to operate beyond municipalities and commercial zones at the U.S.-Mexico border. It would also revise the application form, OP-1MX, to be filed by Mexican motor carriers. The revised form would require more information about the applicant´s business and operating practices to allow FMCSA “to determine if the applicant can meet the safety standards established for operating in interstate commerce in the United States.” Carriers that had previously submitted an application would have to submit the updated form. These changes are needed to implement part of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
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