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.
HOS Waivers for COVID Now Canceled.
In March 2020, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration granted nationwide waivers for trucking hours of service (HOS), and certain other federal regulations, to facilitate the delivery of goods, such as livestock, medical supplies, vaccines, groceries, and diesel fuel, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Those waivers were extended and/or modified more than 10 times, including this past September. As of Oct. 15, 2022, FMCSA has canceled those waivers. This, despite the fact the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has determined that a public health emergency still exists. FMCSA has determined from data and user feedback that the waivers are no longer needed. In addition, highway safety advocates and major trucking groups each expressed concern that continued HOS waivers could make regulatory noncompliance the new norm.
FMCSA Turns Down CVSA Request for “Personal Conveyance” Limits.
In May of this year, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance petitioned FMCSA for time and/or mileage limits on the use of the “personal conveyance” mode by truck drivers. The “personal conveyance” mode on an electronic logging device (ELD), allows an off-duty driver to operate the vehicle without regard to hours-of-service limitations. “Personal conveyance” is intended to allow a driver to use their truck to access restaurants, hotels, and places of rest but cannot be legally used for business purposes, such as positioning the commercial motor vehicle closer to the next destination Motor carriers can place company limits on the use of “personal conveyance,” such as denying the ability to move laden units. CVSA specifically noted that Canada sets a maximum distance on “personal conveyance” and allows it only for unladen CMVs. CVSA cited an increase in “false log” violations as evidence that “personal conveyance” was being abused. However, FMCSA did not find sufficient evidence to abandon its current regulatory guidance.
Don’t Blink! Pulsating Brake Lights Not Generally Approved by FMCSA.
There is a difference, FMCSA said, between a regulatory exemption targeted at one motor carrier or one defined segment of trucking and a wholesale change to the conditions under which the entire industry operates. That was the conclusion when the agency rejected a petition from brake lamp manufacturer Intellistop, for its pulsating brake lamp. FMCSA had previously granted similar, but not identical, temporary exemptions to National Tank Truck Carriers Inc., Grote Industries, and Groendyke Transport Inc. In particular, Groendyke had shown that adding a pulsating brake light had reduced rear-end collisions by 33.7%. With the Intellistop application, FMCSA said it could not extrapolate safety results to the whole commercial vehicle fleet, while the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance expressed concern over possible motorist confusion with the blinking lights commonly reserved for emergency vehicles.
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