Currently, motor carriers that receive an "unsatisfactory" rating following a regulatory compliance review are barred from transporting placardable quantities of hazardous materials in interstate commerce and cannot be used by federal agencies. The regulation gives them 45 days to correct problems contributing to the poor rating. The proposed new rules extends that prohibition to all types of freight but gives non-hazmat carriers 60 days to make necessary changes.
FHWA is acting under authority granted by Congress last year but the proposal will likely rekindle debate regarding the entire safety rating system. Most trucking organizations argue that the current system is too complicated, too reliant on record keeping rather than performance, and gives too much leeway to inspectors. This change, therefore, simply gives more teeth to a flawed program. FHWA says it is considering changes to the process but, until then, must rely on what's currently in place to carry out the Congressional dictate.
Comments are due September 15. The proposal was published Aug. 16 in the Federal Register which can be accessed on the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/aces/aces140.html.