Steve VaughnBy: Steve Vaughn, vice president of field operations, PrePass Safety Alliance

The start of a new year naturally causes one to pause and look forward. The start of most every day, on the other hand, in the trucking industry has us all wondering exactly what the government will do next. Federal regulations, legislation and executive actions are pervasive in highway transportation. They impact what motor carriers and drivers can legally do, how law enforcement may interact with vehicles and vehicle operators, and what federal resources – financial, data and human– are available to advance highway safety and efficiency.

When it comes to regulatory matters there are two public resources that track what federal regulatory agencies intend to do and allow public comment on agency proposals.

The Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions provides uniform reporting on regulatory and deregulatory activities under development throughout the federal government. It covers approximately 60 departments, agencies, and commissions and includes all federal entities that currently have regulations under development or review.

By going to the Unified Agenda’s Main Agenda Page, you can select the desired agency and bring up that agency’s table of contents for active rulemakings. It is arranged in order by sub-agency (if any), by stage of rulemaking (pre-rule, proposed rule or final rule), and by RIN (Regulation Identifier Number). For example, by selecting the Department of Transportation (DOT), every active rulemaking by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), as well as by every other DOT agency, such as the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA), can be seen. Click on an RIN and the last posted status for that rulemaking is displayed, along with useful information such as the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) section affected and the legal authority for the action.

The Unified Agenda is published twice a year. The 2019 Fall Agenda was published on November 20, 2019. For more on the Unified Agenda, see this PrePass blog.

Regulations.gov provides direct access for public comments to open rulemaking dockets. Here you can search by agency (e.g., “FMCSA”) or by subject (“hours of service of drivers”) and, if the docket is open, submit your own comments by clicking the “comment now” button in the upper right of each entry.

Regulations.gov describes itself as “Your voice in federal decision making.” What is certain is that federal regulatory agencies are statutorily governed by the Administrative Procedure Act, which sets out the process by which federal agencies develop and issue regulations. It includes requirements for publishing notices of proposed and final rulemaking in the Federal Register, and provides opportunities for the public to comment on notices of proposed rulemaking – including the requirement that every public comment submitted in a timely manner be reviewed and considered.

What is the government going to do next? When it comes to federal regulations, now you have two resources to find what every agency has planned and to lend your voice to the ultimate outcome.

Steve Vaughn is the vice president of field operations at PrePass Safety Alliance, the provider of PrePass weigh station bypass service. Steve served 28 years with the California Highway Patrol before retiring as Chief of the Enforcement Services Division. In this role, he was responsible for statewide oversight for commercial vehicle regulation, inspection and enforcement in California. This blog originally appeared on the FleetOwner.com IdeaXchange.

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