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FMCSA Top Policy Issues

Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) Program

Issue:

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA) Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program was developed to improve commercial motor vehicle safety through use of the Safety Measurement System (SMS), interventions, and assigning Safety Fitness Determinations (SFD).  The FAST Act required the National Academies of Science (NAS) to conduct a study of CSA and SMS.  FMCSA has also developed and issued a notice of proposed rulemaking that would replace the current three-tier system used for Safety Fitness Determinations, and replace it with a single fitness determination. 

FMCSA's implementation of Sentri, an enforcement intervention software program that supports CSA and combines multiple legacy field systems to improve data integrity and efficiency of the workflow process, has been delayed due to development issues.  The agency has established an integrated project team to oversee its development and to meet new deadline for 2017.

Action Needed:

FMCSA must submit the results of the NAS study, and any planned actions developed in response to the study to Congress by June 2017.  FMCSA must review and analyze comments received on the SFD notice of proposed rulemaking to determine if there is a need to revise the rule before it is finalized.

Background:

  • The CSA program includes three major elements:  1) the Safety Measurement System (SMS), which is a tool to assess compliance and prioritize carriers for interventions based on their on-road performance and investigation results; 2) interventions, e.g. warning letters, cooperative safety plans, and offsite, focused and comprehensive investigations; and 3) Safety Fitness Determinations (SFD) which, currently, is a three-tier rating system for motor carriers (i.e. satisfactory, conditional, and unsatisfactory).  
  • The CSA program has been implemented in three phases.  Phase I and Phase II are completed. Ten states have also completed Phase III, with the exception of implementation of the new IT system, which is still under development.
    • Phase I – SMS replaced SafeStat, introduced onsite focused investigations, and investigations of drivers with red flag violations.
    • Phase II – Established the use of the safety management cycle and process breakdowns.
    • Phase III – Implement the remaining interventions (Offsite investigations, Follow-Up Investigations, and Cooperative Safety Plans) and deliver associated IT systems.
  • In March 2014, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) issued a report titled, "Actions are needed to Strengthen FMCSA's Compliance, Safety Accountability Program," with the following recommendation, "Develop a comprehensive plan to fully implement CSA enforcement interventions in the remaining 41 States."           
  • As a part of its response to the OIG, FMCSA submitted a development and implementation timeline for Sentri.  The OIG accepted FMCSA's plan and closed this recommendation.  However, implementation continues to be impacted by delays in the development of Sentri.  FMCSA has established a Sentri Integrated Project Team to oversee the new development timeline.
  • The FAST Act requires the NAS to conduct a thorough study of CSA and SMS.  The contract with NAS was awarded in February 2016 at a cost of $971,519.  Within 18 months of the enactment of the FAST Act (June 2017), FMCSA is to submit the results of this study, and any planned actions in response to the study to both Congress and the OIG.  The results will also be published on a publicly-accessible Department of Transportation website.  If the study report identifies a deficiency or opportunity for improvement, FMCSA will submit a corrective action plan to Congress that will be reviewed by the OIG.
  • FMCSA is prohibited from publishing property carrier SMS percentiles and alerts until the Correlation Study, required under Section 5221 of the FAST Act, is complete, and all reporting requirements and certification requirements under the FAST Act are satisfied. 
  • The GAO released its CSA Interventions engagement report in late October 2016.  The Agency concurred with the recommendations to identify and implement, as appropriate, methods to evaluate the effectiveness of individual intervention types; update cost estimates; and establish and use performance measures to monitor progress towards the Agency's effectiveness and efficiency outcomes.
  • Relating to the SFD component of CSA, FMCSA published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on January 21, 2016.  The comment period ended on May 23, 2016, with a reply comment period that ended on June 23, 2016.  This proposed rule would replace the current three-tier rating system (i.e., satisfactory, conditional, unsatisfactory) for motor carriers with a single fitness determination – unfit.  In addition, the NPRM proposed using on-road safety data alone or in conjunction with investigation results to propose a carrier as unfit.

SUBMITTED BY:   Federal Motor Carrier Administration

LAST UPDATED:  December 12, 2016

Unified Registration System

Issue:

The Congressionally mandated Unified Registration System (URS) began a phased launch on December 12, 2015 where all new applicants for safety registration and operating authority registration are required to use the online registration process.  All phases of the URS were previously scheduled to be fully implemented by April 2017.

Action Needed:

FMCSA needs to continue the phased implementation of the URS.  This will include delaying the date for full compliance beyond January 14, 2017.  The phased approach allows for the complexity of retiring old systems and unifying the regulatory structure for the industry, as well as providing State partners more time to develop, update, and verify data connectivity and system reliability.  The additional time also will enable the Agency to conduct more thorough training and to implement broader outreach and education activities that will provide for a seamless transition.

Background:

  • The URS is an electronic on-line registration system that streamlines and simplifies the FMCSA registration process and serves as a clearinghouse and depository of information.  It applies to all the entities that FMCSA regulates, including freight and passenger motor carriers, brokers, freight forwarders, intermodal equipment providers (IEPs), hazardous materials safety permit (HMSP) applicants/holders, and cargo tank maintenance, inspection, and repair facilities. The URS combines multiple registration processes, information technology systems and forms into a single, electronic online registration process. 
  • The URS directly supports FMCSA's strategic initiative to maintain accurate information on regulated entities.  URS will be a critical information resource for state licensing and roadside safety enforcement personnel. 
  • The URS also improves the ability for FMCSA to locate small and medium-sized private and exempt for-hire motor carriers for enforcement action.  Investigators will be able to work with designated process agents to locate and/or serve documents on hard-to-find motor carriers.
  • The Congressionally mandated URS began a phased launch on December 12, 2015 where all new applicants for safety registration and operating authority registration are required to use the online registration process. FMCSA issues approved safety registration applicants a United Stated Department of Transportation (USDOT) number and approved operating authority applicants a Motor Carrier (MC) number.
  • FMCSA estimates that the initial phase of the URS online registration system has issued 100,000 U.S. DOT numbers and saved the industry approximately $3 million in registration expenses.  
  •  FMCSA needs to implement the next phase—the full URS release—which applies to the registration of all entities subject to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs).  FMCSA announced on December 9 that it is extending the implementation date of the final stage of URS beyond January 14, 2017 because additional time is needed to securely migrate data from multiple legacy platforms into a new central database and to conduct further compatibility testing with its State partners.
  • In this next phase, all new and existing entities must process new applications and updates to existing records using the new online system with the MCSA-1 form. FMCSA will not accept paper forms or faxes. Mexican-domiciled carriers conducting long-haul operations are exempt from this electronic filing requirement.  These carriers are outside the scope of the URS regulation, but will be included in a later URS rulemaking that implements additional MAP-21 requirements.
  • Also in the next phase, USDOT numbers will be the sole identifier for all entities under FMCSA jurisdiction. FMCSA will discontinue issuing Motor Carrier (MC) numbers and Freight Forwarder (FF) numbers when the URS launches.  Prior to the full URS launch, entities with only MC and FF numbers will be issued USDOT numbers.
  • Historically, entities did not pay to receive a USDOT number. During the next phase, new applicants must pay a $300 registration fee for each registration type including safety registration and operating authority registrations (e.g., property, passenger, broker, freight forwarder, etc.).  Entities will still receive a USDOT number, to identify themselves. But both URS and MAP-21 require a distinct safety registration before any person may operate commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce. 
  • The final phase of URS will require (1) existing exempt for-hire and private hazardous materials carriers to have insurance filed on their behalf by insurance carriers; and (2) existing private carriers and exempt for hire carriers to have on file a Designation of Service of Process Agent (Form BOC-3).
  • URS's ability to capture more accurate motor carrier information will make it more difficult for a business to evade enforcement actions or to conceal a negative safety performance history through sham reorganizations, or "reincarnation". With URS, all applications will be automatically screened to flag data that suggests reincarnation.


SUBMITTED BY:    Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration     
LAST UPDATED:    December 12, 2016
 

Hours of Service: Suspension of Enforcement of the 34-Hour Restart

Issue:

Beginning in FY 2015, Congress prohibited the use of appropriated funds by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to enforce amended restart rules adopted in 2011 pending the results of an FMCSA study comparing that rule with its predecessor, which only required a 34-hour restart period, thus encompassing a single nighttime rest period.  However, under FY 2016 appropriations legislation (Pub. L. 114-113), if the results of that study did not show that the amended restart rule results in statistically significant improvements to safety, fatigue, driver health, longevity and work schedules, the "34-hour restart" privilege wouldbe eliminated in its entirety after the study is transmitted to Congress.  The FMCSA study is complete and the final report was transmitted to the Department of Transportation, Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for its review on January 5, 2017.

Action Needed:

Once the OIG review is complete, FMCSA will need to develop a communications strategy to address the Restart Study findings. 

Background: 

  • Fatigue is a leading factor in large truck crashes. Under the old Hours-of-Service (HOS) rules in place before July 1, 2013, drivers operating large trucks faced demanding driving schedules that may have included workweeks in excess of 80 hours, averaging 13 hours per day. These schedules increased both the risk of fatigue-related crashes and long-term health problems for drivers. 
  • Prior to 2003, long-distance drivers would drive cross-country in 3 to 4 days and then, upon reaching the 60th or 70th hour on duty, would have to be off duty at the location where they reached that limit for 3-4 days before they were available to drive under the then-effective HOS rules.
  • Starting in 2003, drivers were allowed to "reset" their weekly 60/70-hour limit to zero by taking 34 consecutive hours off duty. This allowed them to significantly increase the number of hours they could drive in a week.
  • The 34-hour restart provision was modified significantly in a 2011 HOS final rule that became effective in July 2013. This change required the restart interval to include two periods of 1:00-5:00 a.m. and limited use of the restart to once per week (168 hours).  This change reduced the maximum average potential work hours available to a driver from 82 to 70 hours, a 15% reduction.
  • In the FY 2015 Appropriations Act, Congress directed FMCSA to conduct a naturalistic study of the operational, safety, health, and fatigue impacts of both the 2003 and 2013 restart provisions. FMCSA was directed to cease enforcement of the 2013 regulation until the study is completed and it could only reinstate enforcement if the study demonstrated statutory outcomes. Pending the release of the study, and satisfaction of certain statutory requirements, the 2003 re-start provision would remain in effect.
  • In the FY 2016 Appropriations Act, while the FMCSA study was pending, Congress added additional statutory outcomes that FMCSA must prove before reinstating enforcement of the 2013 restart provision. Also under the FY 2016 language, if the FMCSA study does not satisfy these outcomes, including those that were added after the study was initiated, the restart rule in operation effect on June 30, 2013, remains in place.   

SUBMITTED BY:   Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

LAST UPDATED:  January 5, 2017

Electronic Logging Devices (ELD)

Issue:

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA) Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) and Hours-of-Service (HOS) Supporting Documents Rulemaking, also known as the ELD rule, fulfills a statutory requirement of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), enacted by Congress in July 2012.  The final rule was published on December 15, 2015, and establishes:  Requirements for the mandatory use of ELDs by drivers currently required to prepare HOS records of duty status (RODS); Minimum technical specifications for ELDs, including a requirement to certify and register ELD systems with FMCSA; Requirements for HOS supporting documents; and Measures to address concerns about harassment resulting from the mandatory use of ELDs.

After FMCSA published the final ELD Rule, the OOIDA and two individual owner-operator truck drivers filed a challenge to the rule in the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Oral arguments were held on September 13, 2016 and on October 13, 2016, the court denied the petition for review and held that the ELD rule is not arbitrary or capricious, nor does it violate the Fourth Amendment. 

Action Needed:

Continue implementation efforts.

Background: 

  • Commercial Motor Vehicle drivers verify their compliance with federal HOS by preparing RODS, which were traditionally paper logs.
  • On April 5, 2010, FMCSA issued the Electronic On-Board Recorders for Hours of Service Compliance Final Rule (75 FR 17208).  However, on August 26, 2011, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit vacated the Rule, based on litigation from OOIDA, stating that FMCSA failed to address the issue of driver harassment and ways to ensure that ELDs were not used to harass drivers. 
  • As a result of the August 2011 court decision, the new ELD final rule includes measures to address concerns about harassment resulting from the mandatory use of ELDs: new procedures for a driver to follow for filing a harassment complaint and technical specifications aimed at protecting the driver.
  • The ELD final rule was published on December 15, 2015.  The compliance date for the ELD Final Rule is two years after publication, December 18, 2017.  However, automated on-board recorders (AOBRDs) compliant with 49 CFR 395.15 that were installed before the compliance date may be used until December 16, 2019.  Then, motor carriers must upgrade or replace those AOBRDs with ELDs.
  • The ELD final rule standardizes ELD outputs, introduces tamper-resistance measures, and facilitates consistent enforcement action at the roadside and during investigations via secure electronic data transfer protocols.  ELD system suppliers self-certify that their devices meet the required specifications and register their ELDs with FMCSA.  Motor carriers will be required to use only those ELD systems that are self-certified and registered with FMCSA.  A list of registered ELDs is published on FMCSA's website. 
  • This rule provides an exception for short haul drivers who infrequently keep RODS.  Short haul drivers will not need to use an ELD, as long as they do not operate outside the "short haul" limits more than 8 days within any 30 day period.  Exceptions are also allowed for "drive away-tow away" operations where the vehicle being driven is part of the shipment being delivered, as well as CMVs manufactured before model year 2000.
  • FMCSA's Office of Enforcement is leading the ELD final rule implementation effort.  This encompasses: policy planning and delivery; information technology development and implementation; internal training on the Rule; and outreach for external stakeholders.            
  • After FMCSA published the final ELD final rule, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) and two individual owner-operator truck drivers filed a challenge to the rule in the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.  OOIDA argued that the final rule does not meet the statutory mandate enacted as part of MAP-21, because the final rule does not require that ELDs "automatically" record duty status information other than driving time without driver input.  Thus, OOIDA contended, that the final rule would not improve HOS compliance.  OOIDA also challenged the final rule's cost benefit analysis methodology and argued that the final rule fails to satisfy statutory requirements to ensure against harassment, protect confidentiality, and limit use of ELD data disclosed to law enforcement officers. Finally, OOIDA argued that requiring use of ELDs violates the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.  
  • The American Trucking Associations, Inc., and, in a joint filing, the Trucking Alliance for Driver Safety and Security and the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety filed amicus briefs in support of the final rule.  
  • Oral arguments were held in the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit on September 13, 2016.  On October 31, 2016, the court rejected all of OOIDA's arguments and upheld the rule in its entirety.

SUBMITTED BY:   Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

LAST UPDATED:  December 12, 2016

Entry-Level Driving Training

Issue:

On December 8, 2016, FMCSA issued a final rule to establish new training standards for certain individuals applying for their initial commercial driver's license (CDL); an upgrade of their CDL (e.g., a Class B CDL holder seeking a Class A CDL); or a hazardous materials, passenger, or school bus endorsement for their license. These individuals would be subject to the entry-level driver training (ELDT) requirements and must complete a program of instruction provided by an entity that meets the minimum qualifications for training providers; covers the curriculum; is listed on FMCSA's Training Provider Registry; and submits the training certificate for each individual who completes the training electronically to FMCSA.

The final rule responds to a Congressional mandate imposed under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act. The rule is based on consensus recommendations from the Agency's Entry-Level Driver Training Advisory Committee (ELDTAC), a negotiated rulemaking committee that held a series of meetings between February and May 2015. The Rule's compliance date is February 7, 2020, which is three years after the effective date of the final rule.

Action Needed:

FMCSA will need to set aside resources in fiscal years 2017 –2020 to implement the rule, specifically for its information technology requirements. These resources will support the development of a Training Provider Registry (TPR) to compile information from all CDL training schools, organizations, companies, etc., and to receive training certificates from the training providers for each student. In addition, the TPR will be used to transmit training certificates electronically to the State Driver Licensing Agencies (SDLAs) as proof the CDL applicants have completed the mandatory training before taking the applicable CDL skills test. The Agency will need to work with the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) and the SDLAs to ensure the rule is implemented on schedule.

Background:

  • In 2004, FMCSA implemented a training rule that focused on areas unrelated to the hands-on operation of a CMV, relying instead on the CDL knowledge and skills tests to encourage training in the operation of CMVs. These current training regulations cover four areas: (1) driver qualifications; (2) hours of service limitations; (3) wellness; and (4) whistleblower protection.   In 2005, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (DC Circuit) held that the Agency was arbitrary and capricious in promulgating the 2004 rule because it ignored an important conclusion of its own 1995 Adequacy Report, that BTW training is essential.
  • On December 26, 2007, the FMCSA published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) seeking public comment on enhanced ELDT requirements. In the NPRM, FMCSA proposed revisions to the standards for mandatory training requirements for entry-level operators of CMVs in interstate operations that are required to possess a CDL. The proposal would apply to drivers who apply for a CDL beginning 3 years after a final rule goes into effect. Following that date, persons applying for new or upgraded CDLs would be required to complete specified minimum classroom and BTW training from an accredited institution or program. The FMCSA proposed that the State driver-licensing agency would issue a CDL only if the applicant presented a valid Driver Training Certificate obtained from an accredited institution or program. The Agency indicated the rulemaking would strengthen the Agency's ELDT requirements in response to the 2005 DC Circuit Court decision. 
  • On September 19, 2013, FMCSA withdrew its December 26, 2007, NPRM that proposed new ELDT standards for individuals applying for CDLs to operate CMVs in interstate commerce. The Agency withdrew the 2007 proposal because commenters to the NPRM and participants in the Agency's public listening sessions in 2013 raised substantive issues that led the Agency to conclude that it would be inappropriate to move forward with a final rule based on the proposal. In addition, since the NPRM's publication, FMCSA received statutory direction on ELDT from Congress via MAP-21. On August 19, 2014, FMCSA formally announced that it was considering addressing the rulemaking mandated by MAP–21 through a negotiated rulemaking (79 FR 49044).
  • On September 18, 2014, FMCSA and USDOT were sued in a mandamus action requesting that the D.C. Circuit order the Agency to publish a proposed rule on ELDT in 60 days and a final rule within 120 days of the Court's order (In Re: Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, the International Brotherhood Teamsters; and Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways v. Anthony Foxx, Secretary of the United States Department of Transportation, et al. (No. 14–1183, D.C. Circuit (2014))(Advocates II). 
  • On November 26, 2014, the convener submitted his report to the Agency concluding that a negotiated rulemaking was feasible and appropriate. In December 2014, FMCSA announced its intention to establish a negotiated rulemaking committee to negotiate and develop proposed regulations to implement the MAP–21 requirements concerning ELDT for drivers operating CMVs in interstate or intrastate commerce. Composed of FMCSA and a cross-section of 25 representatives from motor carrier transportation, highway safety, and driver training organizations, the ELDTAC met for six two-day negotiating sessions from February until reaching consensus in May 2015.             
  • FMCSA published the ELDT NPRM on March 7, 2016, which was based on the ELDTAC's consensus recommendations. The public comment period for the NPRM ended in April 2016. 
  • The ELDT final rule was published on December 8, 2016 with an effective date of February 6, 2017.  The mandamus lawsuit in the D.C. Circuit remains in abeyance pending OIRA's review of the final rule, and based upon the agency's representation that it is proceeding expeditiously to complete the rule.
  • The ELDT rule will be implemented on February 6, 2020. Individuals who obtain a CLP on or after February 6, 2020, would have to satisfy the applicable requirements. Individuals who obtain a CLP before February 6, 2020 are not required to comply with the new ELDT rule as long as they obtain the CDL or endorsement before the CLP (or renewed CLP) expires.
  • On December 21, 2016, multiple stakeholder groups submitted a Petition for Reconsideration of the rule to FMCSA.  The Petition was filed by Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, Truck Safety Coalition, and Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways. Petitioners stated the need for a behind-the-wheel training requirement.  

SUBMITTED BY:  Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

LAST UPDATED:  January 9, 2017

Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse

Issue:

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires motor carriers to test their Commercial Driver's License (CDL) holders for controlled substances (drug) use and, under certain circumstances, alcohol use, to prevent drivers from operating commercial motor vehicles while impaired.  FMCSA issued a final rule to establish the Commercial Driver's License (CDL) Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse (Clearinghouse), which will serve as a database housing CDL holder's positive controlled substances (drug) and alcohol test results, citations of driving under the influence (DUI) and test refusals. 

, The new rule requires FMCSA-regulated motor carrier employers, Medical Review Officers (MROs), Substance Abuse Professionals (SAPs), and consortia/third party administrators (C/TPAs) supporting U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) testing programs to report verified positive, adulterated, and substituted drug test results, alcohol concentration of .04 or above test results, test refusals, negative return-to-duty test results, and information on follow-up testing to the Clearinghouse.  The final rule also establishes the terms of access to the database, including the conditions under which information would be submitted, accessed, maintained, updated, removed, and released to prospective employers, current employers, and other authorized entities.

Action Needed:

FMCSA's Office of Enforcement (MC-E) will lead the implementation of this program and is already working on the acquisition plan and statement of work for the information technology support needed to develop the Clearinghouse.

Background: 

  • CDL drivers who use drugs or alcohol while operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) pose a significant risk to public safety. 
  • Currently, it is difficult for prospective employers to identify CDL holders who have received positive drug or alcohol test results, have refused a drug or alcohol test, or have otherwise violated the drug and alcohol testing requirements and thus, are not qualified to operate a CMV.  Employers must rely on information provided by the driver, who might not disclose prior positive drug or alcohol test results, or refusals to test. In addition, sometimes previous employers don't respond to inquiries from prospective employers or they are no longer in business making impossible to verify if a driver has violated the drug and alcohol requirements.   As a result, such drivers continue to operate CMVs after violating the drug and alcohol regulations without completing the required return-to-duty process. 
  • There have been two Government Accountability Office reports related to the prevalence of fraud in testing of CDL drivers.  These reports were titled, "Improvements to Drug Testing Programs Could Better Identify Illegal Drug Users and Keep Them Off the Road,'' dated May 15, 2008, and ''Examples of Job Hopping by Commercial Drivers After Failing Drug Tests,'' dated June 30, 2008. 
  • In February 2014, FMCSA published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to establish the Clearinghouse.
  • Establishment of the Clearinghouse is required by the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) .  It will help improve roadway safety by making it easier to determine whether a truck or bus driver who has tested positive for drugs or alcohol misuse has followed the recommendations of the substance abuse professional (SAP) and completed the required return-to-duty testing requirements before resuming safety sensitive functions.
  • FMCSA published the Final Rule on December 5, 2016 and it will take effect on January 4, 2017.
  • Provisions in the Final Rule include:
  • MROs, SAPs, and consortia/third party administrators will be required to report information about drivers who: (1) fail a drug and/or alcohol test; (2) refuse to submit to a drug and/or alcohol test; and/or (3) successfully complete a substance abuse program and are legally qualified to return to duty.
  • Employers will be required to query the system prior to allowing a CDL holder to perform safety sensitive functions, and query the system annually to ensure that existing employees have not tested positive while working for multiple employers.  In accordance with the Privacy Act, each CDL holder must provide consent, before an employer can access driver-specific information in the clearinghouse.
  • Employers must also report actual knowledge that a driver received a traffic citation for driving a commercial motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances.

SUBMITTED BY:  Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

LAST UPDATED:  December 12, 2016

Commercial Driver's License (CDL) Program

Issue:

FMCSA establishes and updates the regulatory standards by which State Driver's Licensing Agencies (SDLAs) test, issue, and maintain CDLs. Thus, FMCSA has ongoing initiatives to keep licensing efficient, drivers well-trained, and roads safe all with respect to commercial driving.  FMCSA finalized standards and rulemakings for CDL Testing and Commercial Learner's Permits (CLPs), the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners and the Entry Level Driver Training (ELDT).   

Commercial drivers must provide proof of medical certification to the SDLA.  The State will accept the exam only if it was performed by a Medical Examiner listed on the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners. In addition, FMCSA has been working closely with the Department of Defense and the SDLAs to facilitate the transition of military veterans and reservists into commercial driving careers.

Action Needed:

The Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act requires FMCSA to conduct a pilot program to evaluate the safety performance of drivers between the ages of 18 and 21 in interstate commerce who have had military experience and specific training as a heavy vehicle operator.  The FAST Act also requires FMCSA to report on CDL skills test delays for each SDLA and to describe the steps the State is taking to address these delays.

FMCSA needs to continue working with the States to ensure that their implementation schedules, with respect to any CDL-related rulemakings, to meet established deadlines.  If the FMCSA determines that a number of States will be unable to accomplish the needed changes by the regulatory compliance dates, FMCSA may need to consider establishing new deadlines and publishing updated compliance dates.

Background: 

  • To confirm the States' compliance with federal CDL regulations, FMCSA conducts annual program and skills test reviews in every State.  States that are determined to be noncompliant are required to submit an action plan to achieve compliance.  If any State persistently fails to meet the Federal CDL regulatory standard, it is potentially subject to a non-compliance finding, which can impact their ability to receive Federal-aid highway funds.
  • All States may apply for Commercial Driver License Program Improvement (CDLPI) grants.  These funds provide assistance to the States and other stakeholders to support compliance, enhancement of technology, implementation of new program requirements, and fraud detection.
  • FMCSA has been working with the States to allow skills test waivers and to develop a rulemaking to allow medical examiners with the Veterans Administration to be on FMCSA's National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners, thereby allowing them to perform medical exams for CDL holders. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) was published on December 1, 2016.                             
  • By June 2018, the medical certification information must be transmitted electronically by the Medical Examiner to FMCSA, and by FMCSA to the SDLA to improve security and accuracy. 
  • The ELDT final rule, issued December 8, 2016, requires States to pass necessary implementing legislation to modify their information systems to begin recording the training provider's certificate information on the Commercial Driver's License Information System (CDLIS) driver record, and to begin making that information available from the CDLIS driver record. 
  • In May 2011, FMCSA finalized the Commercial Learner's Permit Standards final rule which was effective in July 2014.  The rule gives SDLAs the authority to substitute two years of CMV safe driving experience in military equivalents of commercial motor vehicles, for the skills test portion of the commercial driver license testing process. A standardized generic waiver form was agreed to by the US Army, American Association of Automobile Administrators, and the FMCSA.  As amended on October 13, 2016, the rule would allow military drivers to apply for the waiver while on active duty and for up to one year after their last employment in a military position requiring operation of a CMV. This military waiver program is part of a larger partnership of the USDOT with the Department of Defense, Labor, Veterans Affairs and the Small Business Administration to help military personnel and veterans transition from military training and job specialty skills acquired in the service to careers in the transportation industry.                 
  • Section 5404 of the FAST Act requires the Secretary to establish a pilot program to examine the ramifications of allowing trained military drivers, between the ages of 18-21, to operate a CMV in interstate commerce. Currently, drivers must reach the age of 21 before they are allowed to operate a commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce. Safety advocates have publically expressed concern over allowing drivers under the age of 21 to operate CMVs.. Conversely, many industry groups have argued that allowing drivers under the age of 21 to operate commercial motor vehicles is one way to address the industry's driver shortage problem.
  • The Under 21 Military CDL Pilot Program will be conducted in consultation with a working group consisting of representatives of the armed forces, industry, drivers, safety advocacy organizations, and State licensing and enforcement officials. At the conclusion of this pilot, FMCSA will submit a report to Congress describing its findings and providing the working group's recommendations concerning possible implementation of a permanent young-driver program moving forward.

SUBMITTED BY:  Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

LAST UPDATED:  December 12, 2016

Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Safety-Sensitive Transportation Employees

Issue: 

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) published a joint Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) on March 10, 2016, requesting data and information concerning the prevalence of moderate-to-severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) among individuals occupying safety sensitive positions in highway and rail transportation and on its potential consequences for the safety of rail and highway transportation. FMCSA and FRA (collectively "the Agencies") also requested information on potential costs and benefits from regulatory actions that address the safety risks associated with motor carrier and rail transportation workers in safety sensitive positions who have OSA.

The Agencies requested comment on the costs and benefits of requiring motor carrier and rail transportation workers in safety sensitive positions who exhibit multiple risk factors for OSA to undergo evaluation and treatment by a healthcare professional with expertise in sleep disorders. Following the issuance of the ANPRM, the Agencies conducted 3 listening sessions in Washington, DC, Chicago, IL, and Los Angeles, CA, respectively, to garner information from stakeholders and interested parties on the questions posed in the ANPRM and to garner other data on transportation workers in safety sensitive positions.

Subsequent to the listening sessions, FMCSA's Medical Review Board (MRB) reviewed the medical and stakeholder comments to the ANPRM on August 22-23, 2016, using these and the listening session comments to update its previously issued report on OSA from 2012. Following the MRB's review of the medical and stakeholder comments and its updating of its 2012 report to the Administrator on OSA, the MRB will present its revised recommendations to the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee (MCSAC) at their joint meeting in late October. The MCSAC will advise the Agency on the implementation aspect of OSA – how it will impact drivers and their families and other practical considerations that are non-medical.  Both the MRB and MCSAC voted to forward the MRB's recommendation to FMCSA.  When the Agency receives both of those reports and analyzes them, we will consider whether to move forward with the development of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in 2017.

Action Needed:

As the Agencies consider whether to proceed to the NPRM stage, the Department will need to emphasize the serious nature of OSA both as a safety matter and as a health problem for safety-sensitive transportation workers and how its diagnosis and treatment can help these workers to enjoy longer and healthier lives and careers.


Background: 

  • OSA is a respiratory disorder characterized by a reduction or cessation of breathing during sleep. OSA is characterized by repeated episodes of upper airway collapse in the region of the upper throat (pharynx) that results in intermittent periods of partial airflow obstruction (hypopneas), complete airflow obstruction (apneas), and respiratory effort-related arousals from sleep (RERAs) in which affected individuals awaken partially and may experience gasping and choking as they struggle to breathe. Risk factors for developing OSA include: obesity, male gender, advancing age, family history of OSA, large neck size, and an anatomically small oropharynx (throat).  Moderate to severe OSA can cause daytime sleepiness with adverse effects on personnel engaged in safety-sensitive activities.  Additionally, OSA is associated with increased risk for other adverse health conditions such as: hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes, obesity, cardiac dysrhythmias (irregular heartbeat), myocardial infarction (heart attack), stroke, and sudden cardiac death.
  • Individuals who have undiagnosed OSA are often unaware they have experienced periods of sleep interrupted by breathing difficulties (apneas, hypopneas, or RERAs) when they awaken in the morning. As a result, the condition is often unrecognized by affected individuals and underdiagnosed by medical professionals. 
  • Presently, there is no requirement that all drivers be tested for OSA but FMCSA medical examiners are trained and tested to recognize the symptoms of OSA and to alert drivers during their medical qualification exam that they may be at risk for it and should be tested.

SUBMITTED BY:  Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

LAST UPDATED:  December 12, 2016

Household Goods Program

Issue:

FMCSA regulates more than 4,000 registered household goods (HHG) motor carriers.  The Agency's HHG related initiatives include vetting HHG applications for operating authority, enforcing HHG regulations, and targeting non-compliant HHG carriers and brokers for enforcement action to improve compliance.  The HHG program gets involved in the resolution of hundreds of complaints each year, including "hostage goods" incidents, in which a carrier refuses to relinquish a person's belongings until a specified payment is made.  In addition, FMCSA uses the "Protect Your Move" program for outreach and education of consumers hiring movers. 

Section 5503 of the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act requires the Agency to establish a HHG Consumer Protection Working Group.  This group has one year to provide recommendations to the Secretary on how best to convey to consumers relevant information with respect to the Federal laws concerning the interstate transportation of household goods. 

Action Needed:

None. Information only.

Background:

  • For millions of Americans, moving day is one of the biggest days of their lives.  Families put not only their trust but their worldly possessions and irreplaceable heirlooms into the hands of moving companies.  Rogue carriers who prey on consumers typically undermine the reputation of many professional movers, cause consumers undue stress, and pose safety risks to the general public.           
  • Therefore, in addition to FMCSA's mission to save lives and prevent crashes involving commercial vehicles, we are also committed to protecting consumers against moving fraud.  FMCSA regulates more than 4,000 registered HHG motor carriers.  In order to prioritize compliance and enforcement efforts, FMCSA developed a Top 100 Priority list which utilizes safety and complaint history. 
  • FMCSA monitors HHG motor carrier complaints through its National Consumer Complaint Database. Consumers can use this database to file complaints and those complaints are maintained future investigative purposes.  Additionally, FMCSA works with consumers to resolve their complaints, and also monitors the database to identify rogue HHG carriers.  In FY2016, FMCSA has received more than 2700 HHG complaints.             
  • In April 2009, FMCSA began vetting all HHG carrier applications for operating authority to ensure that they are fit, willing, and able to comply with the regulations. 
  • In 2013, FMCSA implemented a new enforcement strategy involving a collaborative effort between Federal and State consumer protection agencies.  The Moving Fraud Task Force targets groups of non-compliant carriers and brokers.  FMCSA continued the task force efforts in 2016 by targeting motor carriers in States with the most consumer complaints. 
  • FMCSA initiated cooperative partnerships with State Enforcement Agencies to maximize investigative resources.
    • Florida, Arizona, New Jersey, Texas, Louisiana, Delaware, and Ohio have formally initiated partnerships with FMCSA. 
    • The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) provided FMCSA with the authority to order the return of HHG held hostage.  FMCSA began implementation of this authority during Fiscal Year 2014.  FMCSA has issued 5 orders to revoke a motor carrier's authority for holding a consumer's goods hostage.
  • FMCSA also maintains the www.protectyourmove.gov  website and conducts outreach campaigns to help educate and protect the public preparing to move their goods via a household goods mover. 

SUBMITTED BY:  Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

LAST UPDATED:  January 5, 20167

Passenger Carrier Safety

Issues:

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has enhanced oversight of passenger carriers that includes assessing these carrier's safety management practices more frequently, engaging in targeted motorcoach inspections at popular and high-bus-traffic events, and empowering the public by providing them with quick and easy access to passenger carriers' safety history.

One challenge related to the oversight of passenger carrier operations is passenger-carrying vehicles and drivers that are rented, leased, or loaned to an entity.  On May 27, 2015, FMCSA published the Lease and Interchange of Vehicles: Motor Carriers of Passengers final rule (Bus Leasing Rule).  The Bus Leasing Rule received petitions for reconsideration which had merit, and FMCSA needs to review those petitions and revise the regulations as appropriate before January 2018.

Action Needed:

FMCSA will complete its review and analysis of the Bus Leasing rule petitions, and revise the regulations as appropriate, in advance of the January 2018 compliance date.

Background:

  • The bus industry estimates that motorcoaches transport approximately 605 million passengers each year.  Over the 10-year period of 2006 through 2015, motorcoach crashes resulted in an average of 20 motorcoach occupant fatalities per year.   
  • After publication of the Bus Leasing Rule, a total of 37 petitions for reconsideration were received; some petitions were concluded to have merit and resulted in FMCSA extending the compliance fate of the final from January 1, 2017 to January 1, 2018.
  • FMCSA's oversight of passenger carrier safety is restricted by a prohibition against en-route bus inspections unless there is a visible safety hazard. 
  • The Department published the original "Motorcoach Safety Action Plan" in 2009.  This plan reflected integrated activities involving five of the DOT's operating administrations to improve safety in this industry sector.  The Department updated the "Motorcoach Safety Action Plan" in 2012 to document the accomplishments since the 2009 Plan and to provide information on in-process activities and new commitments made by the Department to improve the safety of motorcoach passengers.  The 2012 Plan is available at https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/docs/Motorcoach-Safety-Action-Plan-2012.pdf
  • Section 32707 of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) required FMCSA to enhance its oversight of passenger carriers by requiring FMCSA to assign a passenger carrier a safety rating within two years of its registration, and reassess a passenger carrier's safety rating every three years thereafter.  
  • In 2013, FMCSA announced a targeted motorcoach enforcement initiative using specially trained investigator teams focused on high risk motorcoach companies. Since that time all FMCSA investigators have received this specialized training aimed at investigating key areas of operations at motorcoach companies deemed to be high risk carriers. 
  • The 2016 National Passenger Carrier Safety Initiative (NPCSI) was conducted at Yellowstone, Mt. Rushmore, Red Rocks, and high visibility events such as the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC and the Carolina Cup in South Carolina.  This annual initiative sets aside a targeted timeframe for intensive focus on passenger transportation operations.
  • A total of 574 passenger carrier investigations were conducted in 2016 in accordance with the requirements in MAP-21. 
  • Over 18,000 inspections were conducted in FY 2016, up from 10,000 in FY 2015.  A majority of these inspections were conducted by FMCSA's State Law Enforcement Partners.  The out of service rate of the buses inspected dropped from 9.8% in FY 2015 to 6.1% in FY 2016.            
  • New passenger carriers receive safety audits to proactively ensure that new businesses are prepared to operate safely.  During the 2016 NPCSI, 178 safety audits were conducted on new passenger carriers.  This was an increase from 46 safety audits in FY 2015; and the fail rate of these audits went down from 20.0% in FY 2015 to 13.5% in FY 2016.           
  • FMCSA supports the national effort to ensure individuals with disabilities have access to over-the-road bus (OTRB) transportation by conducting Americans with Disabilities Act compliance reviews on OTRB companies.
  • FMCSA released the SaferBus App in 2012 for iPhone and iPad users and subsequently in 2013 for android users to provide a quick, easy, and free way to view a bus company's safety record and operating authority registration status.            
  • Travelers planning a bus trip are also encouraged to think safety first before buying a ticket or chartering a bus by using FMCSA's "Look Before You Book" website. (https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/look-you-book/look-you-book
  • FMCSA urges consumers and whistleblowers to report any unsafe bus company, vehicle or driver to the Agency through a toll free hotline 1-888-DOT-SAFT (1-888-368-7238) or FMCSA's national consumer complaint website:https://nccdb.fmcsa.dot.gov/nccdb/home.aspx.

SUBMITTED BY:  Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

LAST UPDATED:  October 26, 2016

Speed Limiters Proposed Rulemaking

Issue:

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and FMCSA published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on September 7, 2016, that would require vehicles, including buses and school buses, with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of more than 26,000 pounds to be equipped with a speed limiting device set initially to a speed no greater than a speed to be specified in a final rule. Additionally, the proposed rule would require motor carriers operating such vehicles in interstate commerce to maintain functional speed limiting devices set to a speed no greater than a speed to be specified in the final rule for the vehicle's service life.

Action Needed:

No action required at this time. NHTSA and FMCSA must evaluate the public comments and determine whether it is appropriate to move forward with a final rule.

Background:

  • This joint NPRM responds to petitions from Road Safe America and the American Trucking Associations (ATA) to initiate rulemaking to require manufacturers to limit the speed of heavy vehicles.           
  • All vehicles with electronic engine control units are capable of limiting the speed of the vehicle, however there are currently no requirements that they be set to a particular speed. Based on the agencies' review of available data, limiting the speed of heavy vehicles would reduce the severity of crashes involving these vehicles and reduce the resulting fatalities and injuries. 
  • NHTSA published a notice in January 2011 granting the petition and announcing that it would initiate the rulemaking process with a NPRM. 
  • As this rulemaking would apply to many commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) regulated by FMCSA, the Agencies decided that the most effective approach to improve roadway safety would be to issue a joint rulemaking proposal that will include both a Federal motor vehicle safety standard (FMVSS) requiring vehicle manufacturers to include a means to limit the speed of CMVs and a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation (FMCSR) to require motor carriers to maintain the speed limiter settings. 
  • NHTSA is proposing to establish a new FMVSS requiring each new multipurpose passenger vehicle, truck, bus, and school bus with a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs. to be equipped with a speed limiting device.  
  • FMCSA is proposing a complementary FMCSR requiring each CMV with a GVWR of greater than 26,000 lbs. to be equipped with a speed limiting device meeting the requirements of the proposed FMVSS applicable to the vehicle at the time of manufacture, including the requirement that the device be set to a speed not greater than a specified speed. The proposed rule does not include a retrofit requirement. 
  • Based on the agencies' review of the available data, limiting the speed of these heavy vehicles would reduce the severity of crashes involving these vehicles and reduce the resulting fatalities and injuries.
  • The proposed rule does not specify a speed limit, although cost and benefit analyses have been conducted on three speed limits – 60 MPH, 65 MPH, and 68 MPH. Other speeds may be considered based on comments received. 
  • Motor carriers operating CMVs in interstate commerce would be responsible for maintaining the speed limiting devices at or below the designated speed for the service life of the vehicle.
  • To assist with post-installation inspections through roadside enforcement, the proposal would require that the vehicle's current speed and two most recent speed settings be readable through On-Board Diagnostics (OBD).
  • The proposed rule would allow State law enforcement officials to cite CMV drivers for violations of the speed limiting device requirements as part of traffic enforcement activities. If the vehicle is observed to operate in excess of a posted speed limit greater than the maximum specified set speed and the vehicle was manufactured on or after the effective date of the proposed rule, the speeding violation would serve as prima facie evidence that the speed limiting device was inoperative or the setting had been altered.

SUBMITTED BY:  Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

LAST UPDATED:  October 26, 2016

FMCSA Grant Programs

Issue:

At this time, FMCSA is unable to obligate $65 million in available contract authority for its mission-critical programs, most of which provides necessary financial assistance to state law enforcement partners and stakeholders.  This is the result of a misalignment between the current FY 2017 appropriations continuing resolution that funds the agency according to the grant program structure and funding levels in effect in FY 2016, and the FAST Act which consolidated the agency's grant programs effective in FY 2017. 

Because there was not an anomaly in the current Continuing Resolution, the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP) is underfunded and the High Priority and Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) Operator Programs have zero funding and are thus effectively eliminated at this time. 

Action Needed:

If there is another Continuing Resolution, FMCSA will seek an anomaly under its current FY16 obligation limitation of $313 million to: (1) increase the FY 2016 earmark for MCSAP from $218 million to $250.4 million, (2) ensure that the OST, Office of the Chief Financial Officer (OST-B) apportions funding to award the High Priority and CMV Operator grants in accordance with FAST act pro level shares; and (3) reduce the Commercial Driver's License Program Improvement (CDLPI) earmark to accommodate the MCSAP increase.

Background:

  • As of October 1, 2016 (FY 2017), FMCSA's grant programs are: The FAST Act (Pub law 114-94, amending 49 U.S.C. §31104(a)) authorized all of FMCSA's contract authority for its grant programs.  However, the Appropriators wet FMCSA's obligation limitation of that contract authority each FY and can limit the amount of contract authority FMCSA may award.  This obligation is then apportioned by OMB.
  • Under the current FY 2017 CR, Congress has authorized FMCSA a total annual grant obligation limitation of $313 million for FMCSA to award its four grant programs (MCSAP, CMV Operator, High Priority, and CDLPI).  Of this $313 million, the MCSAP Program is capped at an annual amount of $218 million (70 % of total grant funding).  For comparison, the FAST Act authorized an annual 
    $367 million grant dollars, with a MCSAP annual amount of $292.6 million (about 80% of overall grant funding).
  • If Congress does not increase the MCSAP cap from an annual $218 million to at least $250.4 million, then, in FY 2017, FMCSA will be unavailable to award $32 million in MCSAP grant funds that Congress has already authorized under the FAST Act ($32 million dedicated to border enforcement activities in FY 2016, which have been rolled into MCSAP in FY2017).  This cap increase would not increase the Agency's overall grant obligation limitation of $313 million from FY 2016. Without an anomaly, States will receive less funding in FY 2017 than FY 2016 for the same activities.  Because States are the Agency's force multipliers, the failure to award the funding to the States significantly reduces State contributions to motor carrier safety. 
  • The FMCSA awarded both High Priority and CMV Operator grants in FY 2016.  However, effective October 1, 2016, the contract authority for both of these programs has changed to 49 U.S.C. §31104(a).  This authorizing statute was included in the FY 2016 Appropriation Act.  No specific earmark for "High Priority" or CMV Operator exists in the appropriation act under the MCSAP Grants section. CMV Operator was previously funded from FMCSA's General Operating Expenses (a different line of accounting).  Without an anomaly, FMCSA will not be able to award High Priority or CMV Operator grants in FY 2017 i.e. FMCSA will only be funding two of its four remaining grant programs.
  • A table demonstrating the comparison of the grant funding figures is provided below:
A table demonstrating the comparison of the grant funding figures is provided below.
 FY 2016 Appropriation Act enacted (full year)FAST Act FY 2017 Authorization levels (full year)Percent Distribution under FAST Act FY 2017 Contract AuthorityFY 2017 FAST Act consolidation under FY 2016 Appropriation Act oblim(12 month CR with anomaly)FY 2017 FAST consolidation under FY 2016 Appropriation Act oblim (12 month CR without anomaly)
Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP)218** (171)292.680%250.4218
High Priority (HP) Program15  (MCSAP set aside) 42.2 11.20% 35.060
New Entrant32  (MCSAP set aside)   (consolidated)
Boarder Enforcement (BEG)32   (consolidated)
SADIP3   (consolidated)
PRISM5   (consolidated)
ITD (CVISN)25   (consolidated)
CDL3031.28.50%26.630
CMV Operator1 (set aside from GOE in FY 2016;10.03%0.940
Total313367 313248 (65 unobligated)

SUBMITTED BY:     Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

LAST UPDATED:    January 6, 2017

2015 Crash Fatality Statistics

Issue:

The primary mission of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is to reduce crashes, injuries and fatalities involving large trucks and buses.  While the long term trend since the establishment of FMCSA in 2000 has been a decline in fatalities in large truck and bus crashes, in 2015, 4,337 persons were killed in crashes involving a large truck or bus - an increase of 4 percent compared to 4,168 fatalities in 2014. 

Action Needed:

No action is needed.  The Agency will continue focusing outreach, oversight, and enforcement resources on the entire commercial motor vehicle transportation life-cycle to establish a framework that places safety as the highest priority.

Background:

  • FMCSA regulates approximately 521,000 active interstate freight motor carriers, 13,000 passenger carriers, 17,000 intrastate-only hazardous materials carriers, and approximately 4 million active CDL holders. 
  • In 2014, the most current available data, there were 11.8 million U.S.-registered large trucks and buses, accounting for nearly 5 percent of all registered vehicles in the U.S.  These large trucks and buses traveled more than 295 billion vehicle miles, accounting for almost 10 percent of all vehicle miles traveled in the U.S.   
  • Of the 4,337 fatalities in 2015, 716 (17%) were occupants of a large truck or bus, while the remaining 3,621 (83%) were occupants of a passenger vehicle, rider of a motorcycle or a bicycle, or were pedestrians. 
  • In 2015, 414 pedestrians were killed in fatal crashes involving a large truck or bus – an increase of7% compared to 386 pedestrian fatalities in 2014. Sixty-three bicyclists were also killed in 2015 – a decrease of 16% compared to the 75 bicyclists killed in 2014. 
  • An estimated 138,000 persons were injured in large truck and bus crashes – an increase of 4.5 percent compared to 132,000 persons injured in 2014. 
  • In 20% of truck crashes with at least one large truck occupant fatality, the truck's speed was a factor related to the crash. 
  • At least 38% of large truck occupant fatalities were not wearing a seatbelt.
  • 27% of fatal crashes in work zones involved a large truck. 
  • Approximately 51% of large truck and bus fatal crashes occurred in the following 10 states: Texas, California, Florida, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Ohio, New York, North Carolina, Indiana, and Tennessee. 

SUBMITTED BY:  Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

LAST UPDATED:  October 6, 2016

National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners (NRCME)

Issue:

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has established a set of driver fitness standards for commercial motor vehicle operators where these drivers are required to receive a medical certification from an FMCSA-approved medical examiner that certifies that they are physically able to safely operate a commercial motor vehicle.  Only medical examiners that are listed on the Agency's National Registry of Medical Examiners (National Registry) are permitted to perform these examinations and issue FMCSA medical certificates as they have been trained and tested on the Agency's unique driver fitness qualifications.

FMCSA continues to improve upon this medical certification process. On April 23, 2015, FMCSA published the Medical Examiner's Certification Integration final rule (84 FR 22790), known as "National Registry II." This final rule augments the requirements of NRCME, requiring medical examiners to submit electronic medical certificates daily to FMCSA for each driver they examine. FMCSA will transmit the certificates electronically to State driver licensing agencies (SDLAs) for commercial driver's license (CDL) holders by June 2018.

Also by June 2018, SDLAs will be able to download medical certificates for CDL holders and applicants from FMCSA. The rule will decrease the risks of falsification of medical certificates.

The Agency published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in December 2016 that will allow veterans enrolled in the health care system operated by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to obtain medical certificates from VA physicians to operate commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) in interstate commerce. In order for a VA doctor to issue these certificates in compliance with Section 5403 of the FAST Act, the doctor must be employed by the VA; be familiar with the medical standards for certification; and have never acted fraudulently. As part of the NPRM, DOT is developing a process for qualified VA physicians to perform medical exams and provide medical certificates and be listed on the NRCME                                                                                                   

Action Needed:

The Agency will continue to work with the Department of Veteran's Affairs (VA) to establish a process to provide VA physicians with the necessary training on the driver fitness qualifications for operating a commercial motor vehicle so FMCSA can certify these physicians to perform FMCSA medical examinations of veteran commercial motor vehicle operators and issue FMCSA medical certificates.

Background: 

  • Current regulations require all interstate commercial drivers (with certain limited exceptions) to be medically examined by a licensed health care provider to determine whether these drivers meet the FMCSA physical qualification requirements.   
  • There are now 7 million distinct CDL holders and 1.5 million distinct non-CDL drivers. All drivers must carry a medical examiner's certificate as proof that they have passed this physical qualification examination.  
  • The medical examiners who conduct driver physical examinations must retain copies of the Medical Examination Reports of all drivers they examine and certify. The Medical Examination Report lists the specific results of the various medical tests used to determine whether a driver meets the physical qualification standards set forth in subpart E of part 391 of the FMCSRs. 
  • Previously, there was no required training program for the medical professionals who conduct driver physical examinations, although the FMCSRs required MEs to be knowledgeable about the regulations. The former rules required that any medical professional licensed by his or her State to conduct physical examinations could conduct driver medical certification exams. No specific knowledge of the Agency's physical qualification standards was required or verified by testing. As a result, some of the medical professionals who conducted these examinations may have been unfamiliar with FMCSA physical qualification standards.            
  • From the National Registry's implementation date on May 21, 2014 to January 3, 2017, 51, 644 medical examiners became certified to conduct FMCSA medical examinations. During this time, these medical examiners have conducted
    • 13,457,457 medical examinations, with the following results:
    • 12,972,989  (96.4%) received medical certificates,
    • 60.4% received the maximum 2-year card
    • 33.0% received 1-year medical cards
    • 5.2% received 3-month medical cards
    • 1.4% received less than a 3-month card
    • 228,777(1.7%) were disqualified temporarily, and 
    • 134,574 (1.0%) were disqualified medically.


 

SUBMITTED BY:  Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

LAST UPDATED:  January 9, 2017

Energy Products Transportation

Issues:

With the increase in the transportation of energy products in the Bakken Oilfield Region of North Dakota and Montana and other parts of the country, safety concerns relating to both the transportation of crude oil, as well as the increase in commercial motor vehicle traffic in certain areas due to drilling operations have increased. The dangers associated with the transportation of energy products, especially crude oil, have been highlighted recently through high visibility incidents involving railroad tank cars.

FMCSA plays a lead role in the Department in promoting commercial motor carrier, driver, and vehicle safety in the oilfield areas.  Specifically, FMCSA conducts investigations, audits, and inspections with its own staff targeted on these industries.  Additionally, FMCSA provides grant funds to State agencies to conduct roadside inspections and other enforcement and education activities in the areas around the oil fields.

The Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Appropriations Bill provided specific funds to the Department to be used for enforcement of the transportation of energy products.  The bulk of the funds were allotted to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).  However, FMCSA committed approximately $830,000 to efforts in this area.  With these funds, the Agency focused on all aspects of cargo tank motor carrier operations and cargo tank facility enforcement and compliance.  Additional motor carrier operations, such as explosives' carriers servicing the oilfields, were included in the Agency's enforcement efforts. 

Action Needed:

Based on findings from the FY 2015 energy enforcement activities, FMCSA needs to continue to focus its hazardous materials program on cargo tank motor carriers and cargo tank manufacturing, testing and repair facilities.

Background: 

  • From FY 2011 through FY 2014, the FMCSA North Dakota Division and the North Dakota Highway Patrol (NDHP), through a FMCSA Motor Carrier Safety Assistance program grant, completed more than 30 enforcement administrative civil penalty cases on commercial motor carriers engaged in oil transportation in and around the Bakken oilfields.  As a result, commercial motor carriers were assessed $375,170 in penalties for violations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations and the Hazardous Materials Regulations. 
  • Since FY 2009, the North Dakota Division and NDHP have conducted 16 Bakken Oil Field Multi-Agency Strike Force Operations (MASFO).  FMCSA and the NDHP partnered with FRA and PHMSA on two MASFOs during FY 2014.  The latest was conducted April 28 - May 2, 2014, and included 42 Federal and State personnel conducting safety activities across 16 locations in North Dakota and Montana.  Over 350 vehicles were inspected, including 206 non-hazardous materials vehicles, 138 cargo tank motor vehicles, and 10 non-bulk hazardous materials vehicles.  These inspections accounted for 595 total violations, with 93 vehicles and 31 drivers being placed Out-of-Service. 
  • For FY 2013 through FY 2014, the FMCSA Montana Division and the Montana Department of Transportation, Motor Carrier Services (MCS), completed 1 cargo tank facility review enforcement case and 11 enforcement cases on commercial motor carriers engaged in Bakken oil field transportation.  These enforcement cases assessed $38,610 in penalties for violations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) and the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMRs).  During FY 2013, Montana conducted an HM special in the Northeast corner of the state (Bakken Oil Field).  The 2 day CMV inspection special resulted in 54 level I &II inspections. 
  • In FY 2014 MT Motor Carrier Services inspection teams completed 167 HM inspections in the Bakken area. 
  • In the 2015 Appropriations Bill, Congress provided funds for the enforcement of regulations related to the transportation of energy products.  As a result of that funding, FMCSA committed approximately $832,000 to a variety of activities related to energy transportation.  These activities included:
    • Participated in the Cooperative Hazardous Materials Enforcement Development (COHMED) program's annual conference, where the central theme for training focused on regulations pertaining to cargo tank motor carriers and cargo tank manufacturing, inspection and repair facilities; 
    • Participated in cargo-tank-specific training and other energy-related topics, including sessions on the transportation of propane, explosives (used in fracking operations), and radioactive materials (RAM) (used as sources in equipment utilized in crude oil production operations), and other regulatory issues directly impacting the transportation of energy products; 
    • Purchased cargo tank training models that will be used for the training of roadside inspection officers; 
    • Established an Inter-Agency Agreement (IAA) with the Volpe Center in order to have access to engineering experts when regulatory analysis is needed to further an investigation; 
    • Purchased equipment specifically identified to aid FMCSA field personnel in the conduct of investigations related to the transportation of energy products, including thickness testers (to measure the thickness of cargo tanks used to transport energy products), weld and pit gauges (to evaluate welds, damage and repairs of cargo tanks used to transport energy products),  RAM meters (to detect and measure radiological sources in oil production equipment), cameras (for use during investigations), regulation books, flashlights and other incidental equipment; and 
    • Traveled to Multi-Agency Strike Force Operations (MASFO), individual investigations, training courses, and COHMED.  These investigations resulted in:  130 hazardous materials cargo tank carrier, cargo tank facility, and shipper reviews; 73 enforcement cases; and $952,410 in fines and penalties.
  • In all, approximately $764,152 was utilized during the period of January 1 and September 30, 2015, on energy products transportation-related activities.

SUBMITTED BY:  Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

LAST UPDATED:  October 6, 2016

Safety Fitness Determination Rulemaking

Issue:

On January 21, 2016, FMCSA published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) designed to enhance the Agency's ability to identify non-compliant motor carriers.  The Safety Fitness Determination (SFD) NPRM would update FMCSA's safety fitness rating methodology by integrating on-road safety data from inspections, along with the results of carrier investigations and crash reports, to determine a motor carrier's overall safety fitness on a monthly basis.  The proposed SFD rule would replace the current three-tier federal rating system of "satisfactory-conditional-unsatisfactory" for federally regulated commercial motor carriers (in place since 1982) with a single determination of "Unfit," which would require the carrier to either improve its operations or cease operations. Initial comments on the NPRM were due on May 23, 2016.  FMCSA provided an additional 30 days for commenters to respond to each other's comments.  The response comment period closed on June 23, 2016.

Section 5221 of the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act requires the National Academies of Science to conduct a correlation study on FMCSA's Compliance, Safety, Accountability program and the Safety Measurement System (SMS).  Recommendations from the study may impact the SFD proposal.

Action Needed:

FMCSA reviewed comments to the NPRM and has determined that a Supplemental NPRM (SNPRM) will likely be needed to address the Correlation Study impacts and to update the data used in the NPRM to propose specific failure measures and allow the opportunity for comments. 

Background: 

  • Currently, FMCSA and its State partners can only assess the safety of a small number of motor carriers; and the present SFD system makes it possible for carriers with a conditional safety rating to operate indefinitely.  
  • The SFD NPRM proposes replacing the three safety ratings: Satisfactory, Conditional or Unsatisfactory, with one safety rating: "unfit."  The SFD NPRM also includes the following provisions:   
    • Motor carriers that have 11 inspections within the previous 24 months would be assessed monthly.   This standard of 11 inspections is a higher sufficiency standard than FMCSA uses in its Safety Measurement System.
    • FMCSA would determine whether a motor carrier is unfit using fixed SFD failure standards identified in the NPRM.  
    • A carrier would be proposed unfit by failing two or more SFD Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) through inspections, investigation results or a combination of both.   
    • The SFD NPRM would permit a broader amount of safety data to be used in making the proposed determination.  This includes permitting use of all investigation results, not just results from comprehensive on-site reviews. 
    • Violations of a revised list of "critical" and "acute" safety regulations would result in failing a BASIC. 
    • Using additional safety data will allow FMCSA and its State partners to be more efficient in assessing carriers and identifying those that should be proposed unfit.  The Agency estimates that 75,000 carriers a month would be assessed for safety fitness. 
    • Carriers identified in the NPRM as proposed unfit have crash rates that are more than double the national average. 

SUBMITTED BY:  Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

LAST UPDATED:  October 6, 2016

High Risk Motor Carriers

Issues:

Section 5305 of the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) requires the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) ensure that a review is conducted on each motor carrier that demonstrates through performance data that it poses the highest safety risk.  At a minimum, the FAST Act states that a review must be conducted whenever a motor carrier is among the highest risk carriers for four consecutive months. 

While the FAST Act allows FMCSA four months to investigate the highest risk carriers, FMCSA recently updated its definition of high risk to identify those carriers as those who meet the high risk carrier criteria, using on road safety performance data for two consecutive months, with the goal of investigating these carriers within 90 days of identification.  This definition significantly shortened the time it takes FMCSA to conduct these investigations, and identifies carriers with a high likelihood of having crashes.

In addition, Section 5305 requires the Agency to post a report on a public website that shows the actions FMCSA has taken to comply with this section, including the number of high risk carriers identified and the high risk carriers reviewed.  FMCSA posts quarterly reports on its website athttps://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/mission/policy/high-risk-carriers-investigation-report.

Action Needed:

FMCSA will continue to prioritize High Risk carriers for investigations, conduct those investigations promptly, and maintain its quarterly public reporting.

Background:

  • Section 4128 of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act - A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) required compliance reviews on motor carriers that demonstrated, through performance data, that they posed the highest safety risk.  At a minimum, a compliance review had to be conducted whenever a motor carrier was "rated as category A or B for 2 consecutive months."   
  • SAFETEA-LU's reference to categories A and B referred to FMCSA's previous prioritization system, Safestat.  With the development and implementation of the Safety Measurement System (SMS), Safestat was no longer used and carriers were not rated A or B.  
  • Previously, FMCSA issued a revised high risk carrier policy where property carriers that met or exceeded specific SMS Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) Intervention Thresholds for two consecutive months had to receive an onsite investigation within 12 months, unless they received an onsite investigation within the previous 24 months.  Passenger carriers that met or exceeded the specific SMS BASIC Intervention Thresholds for one month had to receive an onsite investigation in 90 days unless they received an onsite investigation within the previous 12 months.   
  • As required by SAFETEA-LU, FMCSA provided annual reports to Congress on these reviews.   
  • In the FAST Act, Congress recognized use of the SMS system and facilitated reporting by allowing information to be posted on the FMCSA website, rather than requiring reports to Congress.   
  • These changes also responded to the ''Blueprint for Safety Leadership: Aligning Enforcement and Risk'' report issued by a Federal Aviation Administration Independent Review Team (IRT) in July 2014.  The IRT report recommended that FMCSA should sharpen its priority-setting focus and improve the timeliness of investigator actions on those motor carriers representing the highest crash risk.  The IRT report noted that the previous high risk definition did not specify which carriers require the most urgent attention or allow for dynamic risk management. 
  • As a result, in January 2016, FMCSA launched its risk-based prioritization approach to more effectively prioritize motor carriers based on crash risk.  FMCSA published its revised definition of High Risk in the Federal Register on March 7, 2016.   
  • Under the new definition, passenger carriers are identified as "High Risk'' if they have two or more of the following SMS BASICs at or above the 90th percentile for one month and they have not received an onsite investigation in the previous 12 months:  Unsafe Driving, Crash Indicator, Hours of Service Compliance, and Vehicle Maintenance. These BASICS are most closely correlated with crash risk.
  • Property carriers are identified as ''High Risk'' if they have two or more of the above-referenced SMS BASICs at or above the 90th percentile for two consecutive months and they have not received an onsite investigation in the previous 18 months.   
  • The new definition identifies a smaller number of carriers, but this group of carriers has a higher crash rate (18.73) than the group of carriers identified under the prior high risk definition (12.93). 
  • The enforcement rate on High Risk versus non-risk based carriers is almost 4 times higher (42% vs 11%) and the rate of Acute and Critical violations are double (1.63 vs .65).  Also, to date, the Unsatisfactory rate is 4 times higher (17% vs 4%). 
  • This newly defined High Risk list is FMCSA's investigative priority.  It allows the FMCSA to more promptly conduct investigations of carriers that pose the greatest risk to public safety, rather than placing carriers at high crash risk in a longer queue of investigations.  The Agency's goal is to complete investigations on High Risk carriers within 90 days.

SUBMITTED BY:  Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

LAST UPDATED:  October 6, 2016

Mexican Cross Boarder Trucking

Issue:

Mexico continues to press the United States to fully implement the cross-border motor carrier provisions under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).  Following completion of the pilot program, since January 2015, DOT, through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), began accepting applications from Mexico-domiciled motor carriers for long-haul operating authority to operate beyond the commercial zones along the U.S. - Mexico border.  Although litigation challenging DOT's legal authority following the pilot program is ongoing, DOT continues to work bilaterally with its Mexican counterpart to improve processes to strengthen and expand the cross-border program.

Current Operating Authority:

FMCSA successfully completed a three-year pilot program to test the safety of Mexico-domiciled motor carriers in October 2014. Analysis of the data collected during the pilot program demonstrated that Mexican carriers met – and even exceeded -- the level of safety demonstrated by U.S. and Canadian carriers by having lower percentile of violations for both drivers and vehicle out-of-service rates. DOT concluded that Mexico-domiciled motor carriers operate at safety levels consistent with the operations of U.S. and Canadian-domiciled motor carriers,

In January 2015, DOT and FMCSA submitted a report to Congress documenting the findings, conclusions, and recommendations of the pilot program. FMCSA also published a Federal Register Notice announcing that it would begin processing applications from Mexico-domiciled motor carriers seeking long-haul authority to operate beyond the commercial zones located along the U.S.-Mexico border. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, , Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, and the Truck Safety Coalition thereafter filed a petition in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit seeking to set aside and find invalid DOT's Congressional Report and actions taken by DOT on the basis of the report. The Owner Operators Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) intervened in the 9th Circuit matter and subsequently filed a separate petition for review in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit.   The 9th Cir. matter has been fully briefed,  but the case has not yet been set for oral argument. Briefing is ongoing in the 5th Circuit case.

The petitioners have not sought or obtained a stay from the U.S. Courts of Appeals of DOT's decision to begin processing applications for long-haul authority from Mexico-domiciled motor carriers. Thus, DOT continues to grant operating authority registration to Mexico-domiciled companies that comply with FMCSA regulations.  As of October 2016, FMCSA has granted long-haul operating authority to 23 Mexico-domiciled motor carriers (non-hazmat). This number includes 9 motor carriers from the pilot program, and 14new motor carriers that were issued authority since the conclusion of the pilot program.

Included in the Memorandum of Understanding with Mexico creating the pilot program, and as part of the U.S.-Mexico High Level Economic Dialogue (HLED), DOT is currently engaged with the Mexican Secretariat of Communications and Transport (SCT) in updating and amending the 1991 Memorandum of Understanding on Commercial Driver License Reciprocity to demonstrate further alignment of standards and establish a framework for addressing future concerns. The text of the Amendment to the MOU has be completed and approved by the Foreign Ministries of both the U.S. and Mexico, and is now awaiting signature.

Background:

  • Under provisions in the NAFTA, the U.S. and Mexico agreed to permit access to each other's territories for bus and truck cross-border service incrementally until full access was achieved by 2000.
  • The NAFTA timetable also called for the United States and Mexico to lift all restrictions on regular route, scheduled cross-border bus service by January 1, 1997.
  • In December 1995, President Clinton postponed implementation of the NAFTA cross-border trucking provision, which continued to limit Mexican trucks to operations in designated commercial zones within Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas.
  • A NAFTA arbitration panel concluded in February 2001 that the United States was in breach of its NAFTA obligations, and authorized the imposition of duties and tariffs equivalent to the damage incurred by Mexican carriers not being able to conduct business in the United States.
  • The Arbitration Panel authorized the imposition of duties and tariffs equivalent to the damage incurred by Mexican carriers not being able to conduct business in the United States.
  • Following the Arbitration Panel decision, the Bush Administration announced it would fully comply with NAFTA obligations regarding truck and bus access. 
  • Congress imposed additional legislative requirements in the Transportation and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2002, that delayed DOT's ability to grant authorities to Mexican-domiciled carriers for long-haul service in the United States.  In response to Congress' requirements, FMCSA promulgated Mexico-specific regulations relating to safety oversight.
  • In 2006, a Record of Discussions between DOT and its Mexican counterpart (Secretariat of Communications and Transport) established a new working relationship, and in 2007 the two Secretaries signed a Memorandum of Consultations that outlined a demonstration project for long-haul cross-border trucking that limited participation to 100 carriers per country. Approximately 30 Mexican-domiciled carriers, and approximately 10 U.S.-domiciled carriers, operated under the demonstration project. Through an exchange of notes between the Secretaries in August 2008, the demonstration project was extended for an additional year.
  • After the demonstration project was terminated by act of Congress in March 2009, Mexico responded by instituting over $2.4 billion annually in tariffs, targeting nearly 100 products across the country. Reacting to pressure from industries affected by the tariffs, Congress lifted the prohibition that had been imposed at the same time as the termination.
  • In July 2011, a new MOU was signed that outlined a new, three-year pilot program for Mexico-domiciled and U.S.-domiciled motor carriers to engage in long-haul cross-border operations. As part of a statutory requirement for pilot programs, FMCSA collected and analyzed data gathered from the Mexican carriers operating in the pilot program.  In side negotiations to the MOU, the Mexican Secretariat of the Economy (Economía) and the U.S. Office of the Trade Representative exchanged letters in June 2011 outlining the suspension and termination of the tariffs to occur in stages as the pilot program progressed.
  • Between October 14, 2011, and October 10, 2014, FMCSA conducted the United States-Mexico Cross-Border Long-Haul Trucking Pilot Program that allowed approved Mexico-domiciled motor carriers to operate throughout the United States for up to 3 years.  United States-domiciled motor carriers were granted reciprocal rights to operate in Mexico for the same period.

SUBMITTED BY:  Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, OST X

LAST UPDATED:  October 27, 2016

Wireless Roadside Inspection Project

Issue:

Approximately 3.5 million safety inspections are conducted annually on commercial motor vehicles (CMVs), primarily by State inspectors.  Safety inspections are time consuming and it is difficult for these inspectors to identify and inspect the many CMVs that pass through roadside inspection facilities.  Recognizing that State resources devoted to this operation are limited, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is exploring the utilization of existing wireless technologies in the CMV inspection process.

As authorized by SAFETEA-LU Sec 4111 and 49 U.S.C. § 31108, FMCSA initiated the Wireless Roadside Inspection (WRI) Field Operational Test (FOT) to validate technologies and methodologies that could improve safety through commercial vehicle inspections using wireless technologies that convey real-time identification of the vehicles, drivers, and carriers, as well as information about the safety status of the vehicles and their drivers. 

Action Needed:

FMCSA will complete the five-year FOT in August 2017; and will continue the one-year data collection effort that started in March 2016. 

Background:    

  • The potential benefits of Wireless Roadside Inspection include:
    • Increased efficiency of roadside inspection (greater focus on potential violators allows compliant vehicles to bypass inspection stations);
    • Increased number of inspections;
    • Reduced environmental emissions from and energy use by compliant vehicles; and
    • Reduced roadway congestion by reducing queues at inspection stations.
  • The goal of the WRI FOT is to determine the viability and effectiveness of an electronic wireless inspection using currently-existing telematics technologies and a custom-developed government system to receive and process the safety data messages and provide roadside inspectors with a timely report on the safety status of vehicles upstream from inspection stations.  This has the potential to increase the number of safety inspections conducted each year and enhance the ability of roadside inspectors to identify noncompliant vehicles.
  • Aside from supporting state inspection processes, a primary beneficiary of this research is FMCSA's Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) Program.  WRI will provide a rich data source for CSA, as it has the potential to dramatically increase the number of inspections conducted each year. 
  • A major goal of the project is to support the development of a process by which these wireless inspections can provide some level of credit to a carrier's CSA safety score.  Currently, compliant carriers do not receive credit for their CSA score via existing electronic screening systems.
  • A successful FOT will provide a nexus for future national deployment via the agency's Commercial Vehicle Information Systems and Networks (CVISN) Program or other funding sources.
  • Although data is being collected nationwide, two states, Tennessee, and North Carolina, have applied for FMCSA grants to support this testing by allowing compliant participating carriers to bypass their inspection stations. These State grantees will also provide feedback into how the system worked in their state.  As of January 2017,  61 carriers are registered in the FOT and have equipped 753 vehicles with WRI technology. Approximately 1,085 drivers are participating in the FOT and over30,000 wireless transactions have been conducted in these states.  The system has performed as designed.
  • Pursuant to section 5513 of the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act (P.L. 114-94), a report was provided to Congress in May 2016 to provide a determination that this research: (a) does not conflict with existing electronic screening systems, or create capabilities already available; (b) does not require additional statutory authority to incorporate generated inspection data into the safety measurement system or the safety fitness determinations program; and (c) provides appropriate restrictions to specifically address privacy concerns of affected motor carriers and operators.  The Report is available at: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/mission/policy/design-and-implementation-wireless-roadside-inspection-systems-letter-report-congress 
  • For more information on the WRI project, see https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/research-and-analysis/technology/wireless-roadside-inspection-wri-research-project.   

SUBMITTED BY:  Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

LAST UPDATED:  October 6, 2016

Autonomous Vehicles

Issue:

Autonomous commercial motor vehicle (CMV) technologies are evolving rapidly. Multiple manufacturers are testing near-market products, and several States are already regulating the use of automated vehicle technologies. Autonomous CMVs present several regulatory and enforcement challenges that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) must address to ensure public safety on the highways.  FMCSA is in the process of developing a companion policy to the National Highway Safety Transportation Association's (NHTSA) Federal Automated Vehicles Policy which will address CMV-specific issues.

Action Required:

  • Coordinated Federal research and rulemaking efforts are necessary to ensure public safety and to avoid a patchwork of conflicting regulatory requirements that vary from State to State.  For example, the FMCSA may need to:

    • Amend the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs). FMCSA will consider amending the FMCSRs to clearly state that carriers may operate autonomous CMVs in interstate commerce, providing the vehicles meet applicable safety standards.           
    • Enforce the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSSs). While the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration works to develop FMVSSs that apply to autonomous vehicles, FMCSA may need to develop and enforce companion rules that ensure the safe operation of autonomous CMVs on public roadways.
    • Modify inspection, repair, and maintenance requirements. FMCSA will need to consider updated carrier requirements related to the inspection, repair, and maintenance of autonomous vehicles and technologies.           
       

    Revise the hours-of-service rules. FMCSA may need to amend the rules to create new duty categories for drivers' records of duty status/electronic logging device records, addressing time spent in the passenger seat or sleeper berth while a vehicle operates autonomously.

Background:

  • Advancements in vehicle technology, in particular autonomous and connected vehicles, have the potential to positively transform our transportation system.  As we look forward, it is important to remain aware that multiple modes and offices have roles to play in the development of sound policy.  Specifically, OST Policy, OST Research, NHTSA, FHWA, and FMCSA are all responsible for or impacted by different elements of research, policy development, regulatory development, and regulatory enforcement within the autonomous vehicle ecosystem.  Cooperation between offices is key to ensuring the full potential of the technology is realized.
  • Potential benefits associated with the application of these automated technologies include improved safety due to reduction in driver error, reduced congestion due to autonomous CMVs operating during off-peak hours, and improved fuel efficiency.  
  • FMCSA is taking a collaborative, three-pronged approach to its autonomous CMV research efforts:  

I. Impact on Safety and Regulatory Environment

  • International Transport Forum (ITF) Roundtable. Together with the USDOT Office of Research and Technology, FMCSA has engaged the ITF to hold an expert roundtable at USDOT headquarters to identify and discuss research needs related to CMV automation. On January 5-6, 2017, the Agency hosted the roundtable on autonous commercial motor vehicle policy with topics including: the state of the industry for automated technologies, regulations, policy implications, liability, security, and privacy. A report that can serve as a guide for future research efforts is slated for Summer 2017.               
  • Review of Existing Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs). In collaboration with the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Joint Program Office (JPO), the Volpe Center will analyze the existing FMCSR framework to identify potential impacts and compatibility challenges presented by CMV automation. 
  • CMV Automated Research Project—FY 2017. FMCSA will develop a research roadmap establishing a plan to investigate emerging autonomous CMV technologies and further study the impacted FMCSRs.  
  • FMCSA Research Forum at the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Conference.  At the Annual TRB Meeting in January 2017, FMCSA will host a panel discussion on automated CMVs. Federal, State, and industry representatives will discuss the outlook for autonomous vehicle technologies, regulatory and enforcement challenges, and current research initiatives.
     

II. Field Application

  • Low-Speed Automated Truck Queue at Ports and Warehouses Project. FMCSA, in collaboration with the ITS JPO and the Maritime Administration, is planning a project to investigate the potential application of autonomous vehicle technologies to improve truck performance and safety at maritime ports and terminals.    
     

III. Departmental Coordination

  • FMCSA participates in a number of cross-modal working groups and projects related to vehicle automation. These include:
    • ITS JPO Bi-Weekly Automation Program Coordination Meetings;
    • ITS JPO Connected Vehicle Pilots Program Meetings;
    • ITS JPO MARAD Status Bi-Weekly Meetings; and
    • Volpe Monthly Commercial Truck Cybersecurity Working Group Meetings. 

SUBMITTED BY:  Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

LAST UPDATED:  January 5, 2017

Minimum Financial Responsibility

Issue:

Federal law requires motor carriers to obtain liability insurance, and provide the Agency with evidence of active insurance at federally-set levels, before they are permitted to operate in interstate commerce. The current insurance requirements, referred to as "minimum levels of financial responsibility", for motor carriers have not been adjusted since they were established by Congress in the early 1980s.

The FAST Act requires FMCSA to consider specified factors before issuing a final rule impacting the minimum financial responsibility levels for property carriers. It also requires the Agency to complete a study before it initiates rulemaking on the minimum financial responsibility levels for passenger carriers. Finally, the FAST Act requires FMCSA to publish a report on an analysis of differences between State and Federal insurance requirements; the extent to which current minimum levels of financial responsibility are adequate to cover medical care and compensation; and the frequency with which insurance claims exceed the minimum levels.  FMCSA is assessing its rulemaking options in light of the FAST Act requirements.

Action Needed:

FMCSA must gather data to satisfy the specified FAST Act data points, to the extent practicable, and determine if it will have sufficient data to proceed with a rulemaking to adjust the minimum levels of financial responsibility for property carriers. Additionally, FMCSA must prepare a report for the USDOT Secretary to publish by January 1, 2017 to satisfy the requirements of FAST Act Section 5517.

Background:  

  • The current minimum levels of financial responsibility for commercial motor carriers have not been adjusted since they were established by Congress in the early 1980s.  The limits are:  
Regulated Carrier CategoryMinimum Level
For Hire Interstate General Freight Carriers (non-hazardous materials) <10,001 pounds GVWR$300,000
For-Hire Interstate General Freight Carriers$750,000
For-Hire and Private Carriers of Oil and Certain Other Types of Hazardous Materials$1,000,000
For-Hire and Private Carriers of Other Hazardous Materials$5,000,000
For-Hire Passenger Carriers (Seating Capacity <15)$1,500,000
For-Hire Passenger Carriers (Seating Capacity >15)$5,000,000
  • Congress included a provision in MAP-21 to require a report on the adequacy of the current financial responsibility limits.  In April 2014, DOT submitted a report to Congress and tasked its Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee to provide recommendations on the subject.
  • FMCSA published an ANPRM in November 2014 to collect more information on the issue and the comment period ended in February 2015. 
  • Section 5509 of the FAST Act requires the Secretary to consider the following specified factors before issuing a final rule to proceed with a rulemaking to determine whether to increase minimum financial responsibility levels for property carriers:
    • The rulemaking's potential impact on the safety of motor vehicle transportation and the motor carrier industry;
    • The ability of the insurance industry to provide the required amount of insurance;
    • The extent to which current minimum levels of financial responsibility adequately cover:
      • Medical care;
      • Compensation; and
      • Other identifiable costs. 
    • The frequency with which insurance claims exceed minimum levels of financial responsibility; and 
    • The impact of increased levels on motor carrier safety and accident reduction.
  • A number of these data elements require the Agency to source proprietary data from insurance companies and motor carriers.  In addition, lawsuit settlements often prohibit the disclosure of final settlement amounts and do not always accurate reflect a victim's actual medical care costs, e.g.
  • FMCSA is gathering data to address the factors listed in the FAST Act and will need to determine whether it has sufficient data to proceed with a rulemaking on minimum financial responsibility levels.  
  • The FAST Act also requires FMCSA to complete a study in consultation with the over-the-road bus industry, the private school bus transportation industry, and insurers of passenger carriers before initiation of a rulemaking to determine whether to increase financial responsibility levels for passenger carriers. Results of such a study must be reported to the Senate Commerce and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committees.            
  • Section 5517 of the FAST Act requires the publication of a report on minimum financial responsibility levels on a public website by January 1st, 2017. This report is in progress.

SUBMITTED BY:   Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

LAST UPDATED:   October 6, 2016

Broker/Freight Forwarder Financial Responsibility Requirements

Issue:

Aside from motor carriers, brokers and freight forwarders play a significant role in interstate motor carrier transportation.  Brokers are third parties that facilitate agreements between shippers, who require transportation, and motor carriers who provide the transportation.  Freight forwarders offer to the public a transportation service where they assemble smaller shipments for transportation or parse out larger shipments for transportation by contracted motor carrier companies. If the freight forwarder provides the transportation in its own commercial motor vehicle, it is also considered a motor carrier and is required to receive FMCSA safety registration.

In 2012, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) authorization legislation increased the financial security amount these entities had to possess to $75,000 and established a number of requirements aimed at ensuring the solvency of those bonds, trust funds, or other forms of surety. 

Although FMCSA has implemented the $75,000 financial security increase, it still needs to initiate rulemaking to address the related MAP-21 broker/freight forwarder provisions requiring standards for trust fund composition, immediate suspension of FMCSA broker or freight forwarder operating authority in the event of a reduction in "available financial security," procedures related to broker or freight forwarder financial failure or insolvency, and related enforcement provisions. 

Action Needed:

FMCSA must initiate rulemaking to implement the remaining broker/freight forwarder MAP-21 provisions.

Background: 

  • FMCSA has jurisdiction over the interstate operations of "brokers" and "freight forwarders."  Brokers, as defined by statute, arrange "transportation by motor carrier for compensation."  49 USC §13102(2).  Freight forwarders, as defined by 49 USC §13102(8), hold themselves out to the general public "to provide transportation of property for compensation" and in the ordinary course of business assemble and consolidate, or provide for assembling and consolidating shipments, " perform, or provide for break-bulk and distribution operations of the shipments…assume responsibility for the transportation from the place of receipt to the place of destination; and … use for any part of the transportation a carrier subject to FMCSA jurisdiction."
  • In order to lawfully provide services, brokers and freight forwarders must maintain financial security, such as a trust fund or surety bond.   
  • FMCSA issued regulations increasing the $75,000 broker/freight forwarder financial security requirements on October 1, 2013.
  • The broker/freight forwarder (trustor) and the financial institution that provides the financial security (trustee) enter into a trust fund agreement that they file with FMCSA (Form BMC-84 and 85). This agreement establishes that both the trustor and trustee will comply with the FMCSA regulations governing broker/freight forwarder financial responsibility. 
  • The BMC-84 and 85-related provisions in MAP-21, Section 32918 are intended to assure the shipping public and the underlying carrier that, brokers and freight forwarders will pay the agreed costs of carriage and respond to claims for failing to pay same in a timely fashion.  The $75,000 financial responsibility amount provides no benefit if the trustee does not have the assets represented or fails to properly administer claims.  An Agency rulemaking will ensure the interests of freight brokers, forwarders, and carriers are protected by regulating the solvency of these trusts as well as proper claims administration. 
  • On May 20, 2016, FMCSA hosted an informal roundtable discussion on property broker and freight forwarder financial responsibility.  The meeting focused on the adequacy of existing trust fund industry practices, Federal requirements for such institutions, and the underlying instruments the agency issues for use by brokers and freight forwarders submitting the BMC-85 to satisfy the Agency's financial responsibility rules. The parties also focused on the problems associated with brokers running up claims, after the cancellation of their financial responsibility instrument by the surety/trust fund provider.          
  • The Agency has analyzed the meeting results and public comments submitted before and after the meeting, and is now in the final stages of initiating the rulemaking process. 

SUBMITTED BY:  Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

LAST UPDATED:  October 6, 2016

IT Modernization

Issue:

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA) Information Technology (IT) challenges stem from aging infrastructure, enterprise age, complexity and lack of system agility. In order to better enable our employees, stakeholders and partners in meeting mission requirements, FMCSA is currently leading a number of IT modernization initiatives and will be exploring future technology modernization options.

Action Needed:

FMCSA, in partnership with the USDOT Office of the Chief Information Officer and external stakeholders, will continue with its current and planned IT modernization efforts. A phased approach to modernization allows for achievability in retiring old systems and implementing enhanced business processes throughout the organization.

Background: 

  • During FY17, one of the FMCSA Chief Information Officer's key objectives is to create a plan to modernize and transform the existing Information Technology (IT) system architecture to more effectively and efficiently satisfy agency requirements. This effort will include the formation of an internal Technology Transformation Team (T3) comprised of Office Director-level representation from the FMCSA program offices and core members of the IT staff. The T3 will work closely with all FMCSA stakeholders and internal/external partners to develop an IT transformation plan that not only satisfies current agency and partner needs but also incorporates flexibility and modularity to answer future and unforeseen mission requirements and advances in technology. Additional contract support and consultant expertise has been secured to support this effort. 
  • The T3 effort will include three major elements: 1) stakeholder requirements and current business process analysis; 2) current IT architecture analysis and mapping; and 3) development of proposed future IT enterprise architecture and transformation roadmap (collectively called the IT transformation plan). The T3 will be conducted in a phased approach, over a 12-month period, as described below:          
    • Phase I:  Conduct core analysis of FMCSA requirements and existing capabilities to include stakeholder profile development, comprehensive agency data requirements consolidation, and update existing "as-is" architecture models following a thorough inventory of all IT assets and business processes.
    • Phase II:  Development of a plan to modernize and transform current IT services and processes to better support FMCSA's mission requirements. This includes the development of a mission-to-capability crosswalk and gap analysis, an executable multi-year roadmap to implement technology improvements, and a prioritization framework to reach a feasible and sustainable future state based on future funding levels. 
  • Additionally, the core IT team, assisted by the T3, will develop and execute a communications plan to educate the workforce and agency partners on the benefits and specifics of the IT transformation plan. This hands-on socialization and communication effort will be conducted and matured throughout the duration of the project.
  • In addition to the IT transformation plan development, FMCSA is currently conducting a number of other initiatives to help modernize its IT services.  Additional initiatives include: 
    • FMCSA is currently transitioning nearly all of its IT systems and applications to a cloud environment. The goal of this effort is to transform and enhance business processes while reducing IT operation and maintenance costs. This will support innovative delivery of services, to do more with less, dynamically respond to evolving business requirements, and more tightly integrate business processes with IT systems. 
    • FMCSA continues to address gaps in stakeholder needs that are not currently funded or planned through minor enhancements of existing inspection tools by exploring the feasibility of an Integrated Inspection Management System (IIMS).  
    • FMCSA continues to update the aged equipment at field locations to provide better access to more consistent and higher-quality telecommunications support. This includes enhanced services such as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) video conferencing (VTC) resulting in improved reliability and availability of FMCSA and DOT network and services. FMCSA is also continuing to upgrade aging infrastructure to improve data processing ability in the field, improve data quality from inefficient processing of data, reduce field down time, and reduce maintenance costs.

SUBMITTED BY:  Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

LAST UPDATED:  October 6, 2016

Last updated: Friday, April 28, 2017