FMCSA Wastes No Time In Promise To Shutdown Unsafe CarriersA lot has changed in the trucking industry over the years.  Increasing regulations and fuel prices have many drivers feeling the squeeze– and it’s about to get worse.

On June 29, 2012, Congress signed the Moving Ahead for Progress (MAP-21) surface transportation bill.  The bill includes specific legislation for the FMCSA to address.

Yesterday, the FMCSA delivered its plan for the implementation of MAP-21 to the Subcommittee on Highway and Transit Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the U.S. House of Representatives.

MAP-21 mandates the FMCSA to address the following:

Agricultural Exemptions:

MAP-21 includes provisions for farm CMVs.

  • Trucks that are transporting agricultural commodities and farm supplies are exempt from HOS rules during the spring planting season.
  • Farm and ranch CMV operators are exempt from the driver physical qualification (medical) requirement.

Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse:

  • Map-21 requires the FMCSA to create a nationwide electronic database of driver’s drug and alcohol testing results.  If a driver fails a drug and/or alcohol test, he or she will be entered into the database.  Employers will be required to report failed drug and alcohol test to the database. Perspective employers will have access to the database and will be able to access a driver’s drug and alcohol testing history with the written permission of the driver.

Electronic Logging Devices:

MAP-21 included a provision mandating the use of electronic logging devices (ELD) for any driver regulated by the HOS regulations.

  • The agency is currently working on the proposed rule, which should be released sometime early this year.
  • The rule must address: (1) minimum performance standards for ELDs; (2) mandatory requirements for use of the devices by drivers required to prepare handwritten records of duty status (RODS); (3) requirements concerning HOS supporting documents; and (4) measures to ensure that the mandatory use of ELDs will not result in harassment of drivers by motor carriers and enforcement officials.

Read more about mandated EOBRS.

Registration Requirements: Cracking down on reincarnated carriers:

  • MAP-21 authorizes the FMCSA to crack down on carriers and drivers who commit safety violations and then change their company name, or “reincarnate”, after being placed out of service or in an attempt to avoid paying civil penalties, so that they can continue operating.
  • In addition, MAP-21 authorizes the FMCSA to withhold, suspend, or revoke a motor carrier’s registration if the carrier fails to disclose its safety history or other information on its application or if the applicant closely related to another company with a poor compliance history within the last 3 years.
  • Finally, MAP-21 requires the FMCSA to establish a written test for all new applicants to test their knowledge of the safety regulations and commercial regulations.  The intention is that this provision would improve familiarity with the regulations before beginning operations.

Certified Medical Exams:

  • In April 2012, FMCSA issued a final rule t to establish a National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners (National Registry). The rule requires medical examiners to be trained and certified so they can determine effectively whether a CMV driver is medically fit under FMCSA’s standards.
  • The National Registry will require that all medical examiners meet the following criteria: (1) complete certain training concerning FMCSA’s physical qualification standards; (2) pass a test to verify an understanding of those standards; and (3) maintain and demonstrate competence through periodic training and testing.
  • The National Registry will be fully implemented by May, 2014.  The FMCSA will require that motor carriers and drivers use only those medical examiners listed on the National Registry and will only accept as valid medical examiner’s certificates issued by medical examiners listed on the National Registry.

 Household Goods:

MAP-21 authorizes the FMCSA to assign all or a portion of the penalties it receives from noncompliant moving companies to the aggrieved shipper. The Agency has formed a working group and is examining how to implement this new restitution authority. A second provision authorizes the Agency to be able to order moving companies to return household goods held hostage. The Agency has implemented the provision and has already ordered a noncompliant moving company to return hostage goods to an aggrieved shipper.

FMCSA has requested that States take immediate action to put policies and procedures in place to provide this regulatory relief. Once the Agency completes a final rule to conform the FMCSRs to these provisions, States will be required to adopt and enforce compatible safety regulations as a condition of receiving Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program funding. States will have three years from the rule’s effective date to adopt compatible regulations.

“Safety is FMCSA’s number one priority and while the Agency has realized great success in reducing crashes, injuries, and fatalities, there is more to be done. Every life is precious and even one fatality is one too many. To direct how we will use our resources to achieve greater success in saving lives, the Agency developed a Strategic Plan guided by a framework shaped by three core principles to: raise the bar to enter the motor carrier industry; maintain high safety standards to remain in the industry; and remove high-risk carriers, drivers, and service providers from operation. MAP-21 aligns well with these core principles and supports a number of our Agency’s important safety initiatives.