Each spring and fall, the federal government publishes its Unified Regulatory Agenda listing the status of current and intended rulemaking activities for federal agencies. While the Fall 2022 edition of the Unified Regulatory Agenda has yet to make an appearance, the U. S. Department of Transportation just released its Significant Rulemaking Report.

What is the difference between the Unified Regulatory Agenda and this Significant Rulemaking Report? The Unified Regulatory Agenda covers every regulatory action, no matter how big or small, by every federal agency. On the other hand, the DOT Significant Rulemaking Report concerns only the regulatory agencies with the DOT and only those prospective actions considered “significant.”

The formal definition of a “significant” regulatory action takes up most of a page, but here are two key points:

  • It would have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more or adversely affect in a material way a sector of the economy; or
  • It would create a serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with an action taken or planned by another agency.

Significant rulemakings are reviewed by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) within the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) at the White House. OIRA can delay one agency’s rulemaking until another agency can review it and comment. The Rulemaking Report can only estimate dates for these significant rulemakings.

Here are just some of the significant rulemakings, and their dates, we can expect from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

1. New Entrant Safety Assurance Process. FMCSA will look at creating a New Entrant Knowledge Test to ensure new applicant carriers are knowledgeable about federal safety rules. Date undetermined.

2. Unified Registration System Update. FMCSA will update and codify the procedures for granting, suspending, and revoking carrier registration. Date undetermined.

3. Heavy Vehicle Speed Limiters. FMCSA will publish a Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on speed limiters affecting motor carriers operating in interstate commerce. When a CMV with a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more and equipped with an electronic engine control unit (ECU) capable of governing maximum speed, this regulation would require the owner to limit the speed determined by the rulemaking and maintain that ECU setting for the service life of the vehicle. Projected publication date: June 30, 2023, but FMCSA has indicated it will likely be delayed.

4. Safe Integration of Automated Driving Systems. FMCSA will propose changes to CMV operations, inspection, repair, and maintenance regulations to accommodate automated driving systems-equipped CMVs. Projected publication date: Jan. 18, 2023.

5. Automatic Emergency Braking Systems. Jointly with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, FMCSA will propose requiring and standardizing automatic emergency braking systems for heavy trucks, including performance standards and maintenance requirements. Projected publication date: Jan. 30, 2023.

6. Safety Fitness Procedures. In an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, FMCSA will seek public comments on how better to use data and resources, including inspection data, to remove unfit motor carriers from the highways. This rule will include a review of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations used by FMCSA in its safety fitness rating methodology. Projected publication date: Jan. 30, 2023.


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