Photo: U.S. Department of Transportation

Photo: U.S. Department of Transportation

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance has taken to task the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for unduly burdening roadside inspectors by issuing carriers and drivers too many safety-rule exemptions. 

“Recently, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued notices of final disposition that hinder the roadside inspector while conducting inspections,” stated Collin Mooney, CVSA executive director, in a Feb. 18 letter to Scott Darling, FMCSA’s acting administrator. 

He went on to point out that in the past year, over 20 exemption applications or renewal requests were granted.

These included final rules exempting vehicle equipment, such as mounting of video devices to windshields and the transportation of metal coils, along with several affecting drivers, including records of duty status exemptions and exempting certain drivers from having to obtain a CDL. 

“Due to the amount of exemptions allowed by FMCSA in the past year,” Mooney continued, “an excessive burden is being placed on inspectors to ensure all active exemptions are being followed properly. Furthermore, this puts an undue training burden on agencies that must be diligent in informing all inspectors of the new exemptions and ensuring they understand and apply the exemptions properly.” 

Mooney contended that allowing “such a large number of exemptions” puts in jeopardy “the likelihood of achieving a level of safety equivalent to, or greater than, the level that is expected by the current regulation.”

He wrote that with so many exemptions, beyond those within the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, “it is possible that roadside inspectors will no longer accurately enforce the regulations, or may stop enforcing certain regulations all together.”

Mooney added that inspectors “must be able to perform their duties without the apprehension that one of these exemptions will be overlooked, and a driver or vehicle placed out of service notwithstanding an obscure exemption, or an exemption being given to a driver or vehicle that is not in the exemption group. 

CVSA does not object to the exemptions on an individual basis, he pointed out, but holds that “exemptions complicate the enforcement process, causing confusion and inconsistency…  which undermines the very foundation of the federal commercial motor vehicle enforcement program— uniformity. The regulations are only effective if they are clear and enforceable.” 

Mooney said the alliance also wants to “further encourage” FMCSA to “invite to the table” state and local inspection/enforcement partners when working on new or updated regulations and/or exemptions. 

FMCSA Spokesman Duane DeBruyne told HDT that CVSA’s letter was under review by the agency.