Whatever the political headlines of the day, federal agencies continue to add new trucking regulations, adopt new forms and extend or discontinue previous waivers and exemptions. In this series, “Trucking Things to Know Now,” PrePass provides quick updates on regulatory developments, often with links to more information.

FMCSA adopts new vision standard.  In a Final Rule published Jan. 21, 2022, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) adopted a new vision standard for truck drivers with “monocular vision” – a deficiency in one eye. The final rule is effective March 22, 2022.

Just as FMCSA previously adjusted its standards for drivers with insulin-treated diabetes mellitus, the new vision standard will require evaluation by a medical professional – an ophthalmologist or optometrist, in addition to a medical examiner on FMCSA’s National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners. The new vision standard also contains standards for the better eye.

Before this final rule, individuals needed to file for an exemption and await public comment to a Federal Register notice. Truck drivers who meet the new vision standard must, for the first time, satisfactorily complete a road test before operating in interstate commerce. Truck drivers who already hold a vision exemption, as well as the approximately 1,800 drivers who were “grandfathered” before federal standards were first adopted, have one year to comply with the new procedure.

Lower UCR fees proposed.  On Jan. 24, FMCSA published a Federal Register notice proposing to reduce the annual registration fees states collect from motor carriers, brokers, freight forwarders, and leasing companies for the Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) Plan and Agreement for the 2023 year and subsequent registration years. The proposed fees for the 2023 registration year would be reduced below the fees for 2022 by approximately 27%. The reduction in annual registration fees would be between $16 and $15,350 per entity, depending on the number of vehicles owned or operated. Comments on the proposed fee reduction are due 30 days after publication.

Robin Hutcheson announced as FMCSA Deputy Administrator.  U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has named Robin Hutcheson as the new FMCSA Deputy Administrator. Hutcheson will replace former Deputy Administrator Meera Joshi, who left FMCSA at the end of January to serve as the Deputy Mayor for Operations for New York City. Over the last year, Hutcheson served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Safety Policy at the Transportation Department, where she was the point person for the new Safe Streets and Roads for All program of the bipartisan Infrastructure Bill. Prior to her DOT position, Hutcheson had substantial transportation management experience with the cities of Minneapolis and Salt Lake City.

USDOT defends 2020 hours of service rule changes.  Responding to a challenge filed by safety groups and the Teamsters Union in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the U.S. Department of Transportation and FMCSA have gone on record supporting the truck driver hours of service rest period change and the short-haul exception of the 2020 HOS rulemaking. While Transportation Secretary Buttigieg has not precluded any review of those rules or other HOS provisions in the future, the current administration labeled the analysis performed two years ago by FMCSA as “appropriate and reasonable.”

Read the previous installments of “Trucking Things to Know Now: Federal Regulatory Updates.”