The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is looking to gather information on the regulations surrounding the lease and interchange of vehicles, according to a notice in the Federal Register.
FMCSA seeks approval through an Information Collection Request (ICR), to continue requiring motor carriers who lease or interchange equipment with others to maintain a written lease. That lease should describe the equipment and specify the start and end time and date of the transfer. FMCSA rules also mandate that the acquiring carrier identify/mark the equipment as being in its service. Comments on this ICR are due by Nov. 10, 2022.
An ICR is required whenever a federal agency desires new information and data from the public. Also, Congress passed the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 to protect citizens from burdensome government demands. When an agency publishes an ICR, affected people and businesses can comment on the cost incurred, the time required, and the necessity of the information sought by the federal government.
Even if a regulatory agency needs the information, perhaps there is a cheaper or more efficient way to obtain it. Maybe the government already has the data it needs if it only looked. Data management changes over time, which is why agencies must re-open approved ICRs for comment and renewal at least once every three years.
The FMCSA rules on the paperwork required for the lease and interchange of vehicles may seem like standard business practices. Of course, a motor carrier would have a contract when, for example, leasing a trailer. No big deal, then, that FMCSA makes that a requirement.
But this ICR helps remind us of the importance of proper lease and interchange documentation. In addition to compliance with federal regulations, lease and interchange documentation becomes critical in three situations:
- Stolen vehicles
- Toll road billing
Crashes. Any personal injury attorney will cast a wide net over all parties potentially involved in an accident. If a rented power unit or leased trailer still carries the placard of the acquiring motor carrier or if the lease agreement still had five milliseconds remaining on its term, the lawyer will go after the trucking company, even if the equipment had been returned to its owner before the crash. Lesson: remove all markings and have leases stamped as completed immediately upon termination of a lease or interchange.
Stolen vehicles. Again, remove all markings and have leases stamped as completed immediately upon termination of a lease or interchange. But, in addition, document the physical location where the equipment was returned. Protect yourself in the event a new employee at the leasing company inadvertently moves the equipment to some obscure part of its yard.
Toll road billing. Motor carriers who use the PrePass Plus transponder enjoy accurate billing, without the administrative charges toll roads add to toll-by-plate transactions. But toll roads still require motor carriers to maintain a vehicle registration list. Why? That transponder may not be located where it can be properly read. The toll road’s default response is to photograph the license plate – usually the rear license plate of the truck combination. In many cases, that rear license plate sits on a trailer interchanged with a shipper. Proper lease and interchange documentation not only ensures accurate toll road billing, it can help the motor carrier keep a customer!
This blog is published as a public service of PrePass®, the most reliable and technologically advanced weigh station bypass and electronic trucking toll payment platform in North America. PrePass also includes INFORM™ Safety and Tolling software for improving truck safety scores and lowering toll costs.