FMCSA targeting ELDs, ‘unfit’ carriers in 2022 FMCSA targeting ELDs ‘unfit carriers in 2022

FMCSA targeting ELDs, ‘unfit’ carriers in 2022

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will be proposing new rules in 2022 affecting ELDs, automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems and roadside inspections, according to the Office of Management and Budget.

The Biden administration’s latest agenda on regulatory and deregulatory actions published Friday included four proposals that are currently in the pre-rule stage at FMCSA, with formal notices scheduled to be issued between March and June next year.

Among the planned proposed rules: potential changes to the ELD rule that went into effect in stages between 2016 and 2019.

“Many lessons have been learned by FMCSA staff, state enforcement personnel, ELD vendors and industry in the intervening years,” a summary of the proposal states. “These lessons can be used to streamline and improve the clarity of the regulatory text and ELD specifications and answer recurring questions.

FMCSA targeting ELDs, ‘unfit’ carriers in 2022 OOIDA ELD survey fatigue bar chart Jan 2019
ELD impact on fatigue. Source: OOIDA (January 2019 survey)

“Additionally, there are technical modifications responsive to concerns raised by affected parties that could improve the usability of ELDs. FMCSA is seeking information to determine what changes would be warranted.”

A major concern raised by small-business owner-operators when the rule was being written was whether requiring ELD equipment in trucks, which are meant to improve compliance with hours of service rules, would lead to driver harassment by fleet owners.

The results of a member survey conducted by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association released in February 2019 found that a common theme among drivers on the effects of ELDs was “feeling rushed to take breaks when they do not need them and forced to drive when they would rather take a break” since the rule went into effect.

Watch: ELD tampering in Canada (10/26/21)

“Others felt harassed by the device itself, stating that they are unable to make even the smallest of mistakes,” according to the survey. “Conversely, a few members experienced less harassment, stating that carriers and shippers were no longer pressuring them to make unrealistic delivery schedules and that they were better equipped to document hours sitting in detention.”

In another pre-rule being prepared by FMCSA, the agency will be seeking “information and comment” on the maintenance and operation of AEBs. The proposed rule will support an affiliated rule to be proposed next year by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to require and/or standardize AEB equipment performance on heavy trucks.

“NHTSA is planning a date of April 2022 for their AEB” rulemaking proposal, according to OMB, “therefore, FMCSA would issue this [advance notice] shortly after.”

In March, FMCSA also plans to gather information on how it can more effectively identify “unfit” trucking companies “and remove them from the nation’s roadways,” according to OMB.

“FMCSA would seek public comment about the use of available safety data, including inspection data, in determining carrier fitness to operate,” as well as looking at possible changes to the current three-tier safety fitness rating structure (satisfactory, conditional and unsatisfactory).

In addition, to improve how law enforcement can “target their efforts at high-risk operators,” FMCSA will be seeking public comment on amending regulations to require every truck operating in interstate commerce to be equipped with an electronic device that would transmit a unique identification number when queried by a roadside system.

The proposed rulemaking, which is scheduled for June, is in response to a petition from the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance. The proposed rule could also potentially help improve the effectiveness of roadside inspections, OMB stated.

Click for more FreightWaves articles by John Gallagher.

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