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U.S. Department of Transportation Releases Spring Regulatory Agenda

Friday, June 11, 2021

Agenda Highlights Department’s Commitment to Increase Safety, Fight Climate Change, Advance Equity and Build our Economy Back Better

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) announced the Department’s portions of the Unified Agenda (also known as the Spring Regulatory Agenda) today identifying the actions the Department plans to take over the next year and beyond to protect and serve the American people. 

USDOT’s Spring Regulatory Agenda demonstrates the Department’s commitment to safety for transportation workers and the traveling public, fighting climate change, advancing equity, and building our economy back better. Regulations are a critical tool to protect our citizens and workers, and ensure the safe and timely delivery of public goods and services. Highlights include proposals that would address the following, after opportunities for public review and comment: 

Safer and More Equitable Roadways & Vehicles: Safety is the Department’s North Star and making our roads safer for all Americans is critical. The regulatory agenda reflects this – by proposing to make safety technologies like automatic emergency braking standard, to ensure better data collection for autonomous vehicle technology deployments to enable safe innovation, and to update our roadway design and operational practices for the first time in a decade. Examples include:

  • Require heavy and light vehicles to include Automatic Emergency Braking (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – NHTSA)
  • Revise the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways (Federal Highway Administration - FHWA)
  • Establish and require rigorous testing standards for autonomous vehicles and establish a national incident database for crashes involving automated vehicles (NHTSA) 
  • Create a safe, predictable environment for autonomous vehicle evolution (NHTSA)

Safer Workers and Workplaces: Keeping workers safe is also essential to building back better. USDOT’s spring regulatory agenda includes actions that can protect rest breaks for flight attendants, ensure backup for train operating crews, and keep airline pilots safe from intrusions. Examples include: 

  • Ensure that flight attendants on flights with large numbers of passengers receive a scheduled rest period of at least 10 hours after duty periods  (Federal Aviation Administration - FAA)
  • Require a safe minimum train crew size (Federal Railroad Administration - FRA) 
  • Protect aircraft cockpits with secondary flight-deck barriers (FAA) 
  • Hold workers at domestic and foreign aircraft repair stations to the same safety standards to increase safety of the flying public (FAA)

Climate and Environmental Justice: The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to reducing emissions by at least 50 percent by 2030, leading a clean energy revolution and creating good-paying, American jobs. To help achieve this vision, the Regulatory Agenda includes proposals to revise fuel economy standards that will help make the air cleaner and save drivers money at the pump, as well as reinstating greenhouse gas performance measures that will help track the climate impacts of our transportation plans. Examples include: 

  • Set fuel economy standards for light-duty vehicles (NHTSA)
  • Re-establish a Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions Performance Measure for state and metropolitan planning (FHWA)
  • Enhance pipeline safety, and reduce environmental impact including through new requirements to detect and repair leaks. (Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration - PHMSA)

Economy, Workforce, and Transformation: USDOT will do our part to ensure our policies and regulations address the inequities in our economy, help build our economy back better and create millions of jobs by strengthening small businesses and investing in the jobs of the future. This includes looking to increase the amount of American-made products bought by the Department and its grantees, updating regulations around unmanned aerial vehicles and commercial space operations as well as ensuring that women- and minority-owned businesses can compete for federal contracts. Examples include: 

  • Support and expand the use of Buy America(n) provisions (DOT-wide)
  • Improve Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) programs (DOT-wide) 
  • Modernize certification of unmanned aerial vehicles (FAA) 
  • Address orbital debris from commercial space operations (FAA)