James F. Mahoney, Attorney

FMCSA Anxiety Triggers

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FMCSA Rejects Request for HOS Delay

The ATA has sent a letter to the FMCSA asking for the delay to allow for the industry to gear up for possible significant operational changes once the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals decides up or down on the new rules.

The Court of Appeals consolidated two lawsuits filed against the HOS changes and it expects oral argument on March 15, 2013. A decision may not come for weeks.

The new regulations would, of course, include the revised 34-hour restart and mandatory break provisions, which will surely cause a great deal of industry heartache and shipper capacity shortages.

The FMCSA denied the request, stating that a delay is not warranted, and the Agency also stated it was "unwilling to sacrifice what may be several months of public safety benefits from the timely implementation of the rule."

Of course, no one's ever really concluded that the new rules are beneficial to public safety ...

Incorporating CSA Data and Rating System

In the two years it has been up and running, the FMCSA's Compliance, Safety, Accountability program has demonstrated many flaws and shortcomings - we all know that. But still CSA literally has changed the way carriers do business.

The anxiety and frustrations with the problems are now compounded by suspense. FMCSA is working on an overarching rule that will formally incorporate the CSA data and rating system into a standard for determining if a carrier is fit to operate.

Insurers, brokers and shippers are presently misunderstanding and misusing CSA data in their selection of carriers. The rating system is not likely to help truckers at all.

According the the Agency, the root cause of a violation or crash will lie within one of the following six components of the Safety Management Cycle model: motor carrier policies and procedures; motor carrier roles and responsibilities; driver qualifications and hiring; driver training and communication; carrier monitoring of its policies and procedures; and something called "Meaningful Action," which presumably is progressive discipline for drivers.

FMCSA enforcement personnel are already trained in these SMC components and are using them to measure compliance.

You need to be sure you're reviewing roadside actions and any crashes and figure out the primary and secondary causes of the violations so your safety management practices will stand up against the Agency's SMC litmus test.

Unified Registration System

The Unified Registration System, which will reform the way the Agency keeps track of motor carriers, brokers and freight forwarders, is in the final stage of its rule making process.

The FMCSA sent the final rule to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review, which should take about 3 months to rule - maybe just in time to coincide with new HOS regs.

This URS plan has been in the works for years. It will replace three legacy identification systems. Although details have not been made public, the agency proposes to combine the current systems that track identification, registration and financial responsibility into a single, new online system.

All registrants would have to update their information every two years. All companies registered under the URS will be identified by their DOT, although you can use your MC number on your doors until new equipment replaces the old.

Interestingly, the Agency may no longer accept requests for transfer of operating authority. The URS will be one of several rules intended to make it more difficult to enter the business, keeping out “chameleon” carriers – but also likely to confuse the heck out of everybody once again.