DOT FINALLY PROPOSES SPEED-LIMITERS ON TRUCKS
Federal safety regulators are proposing that heavy-duty vehicles be equipped with speed-limiting devices set to a specific maximum speed. A notice of proposed rulemaking was issued jointly on August 26 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The proposed rule comes after a decade-long push by trucking and safety advocates to put such a requirement in place for trucks and other commercial vehicles.
For its part, NHTSA is calling for establishing a new Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard. This FMVSS would require that each new “multipurpose” vehicle with a GVWR over 26,000 pounds be equipped with a speed-limiting device. The proposed standard would also require each vehicle, as manufactured and sold, to have its device set to a speed not greater than a specified speed and to be equipped with means of reading the vehicle’s current speed setting and the two previous speed settings (including the time and date the settings were changed) through its onboard diagnostic connection. FMCSA is also proposing a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation that would require each commercial motor vehicle with a GVWR of more than 26,000 pounds be equipped with a speed-limiting device meeting the requirements of the proposed FMVSS applicable to the vehicle at the time of manufacture, including the requirement that the device be set to a speed not greater than a specified speed.
In addition, carriers operating such vehicles in interstate commerce would be required to maintain the devices for the life of the vehicle. However, no speed limit has been proposed yet for the proposed limiters. The Department of Transportation said only that the proposal “discusses the benefits of setting the maximum speed at 60, 65 and 68 miles-per-hour, but the agencies will consider other speeds, based on public input.”
CHANGES TO THE BIT PROGRAM IN CALIFORNIA
Revisions to the Biennial Inspection of Terminals (BIT) program significantly expands the number of California motor carriers required to enroll in the program. As the CHP implements the changes to the BIT program, California carriers should be aware of how these revisions may affect their operating authority and responsibilities. Some of the new revisions include the following:
• With some exceptions, a motor carrier who is the registered owner of a truck weighing over 10,000 pounds used for commerce is subject to the BIT program. Previously, operators of trucks under 26,001 pounds were exempted from the BIT program.
• Previously, when a vehicle was leased to a motor carrier for a period of four months or less, the registered owner was responsible for it under BIT, including presenting the vehicle for inspection and maintenance records. Under the new rules, the motor carrier (i.e. the lessee) will be responsible for it beginning on the first day of the lease.
• Carriers with a MCP have now been issued a U.S. DOT number. This does not mean carriers have obtained Federal DOT authority; carriers still need to complete the DOT authority application in order to obtain their own DOT authority.
• The assignment of U.S. DOT numbers allows the CHP to upload a motor carrier’s vehicle, terminal and carrier inspections into the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s system. The CHP can utilize this data to prioritize terminal inspections based on performance and “non-compliant” carriers.
• The CHP will no longer collect BIT fees. Instead, BIT fees will be paid to the California DMV at the time of obtaining or renewing a MCP. The BIT fee will now be called a “Carrier Inspection Fee” or CIF.
• There will no longer be a separate BIT application for new carriers. They will be automatically enrolled in the BIT program when they pay their MCP fee.
Protect your operating authority. If you need any help or advice complying with and/or understanding these new rules, contact us at NTA (562-279-0557) and we can assist you.
EPA STEPPING UP ENFORCEMENT OF CARB RULES
It appears that within the last week or so, Region IX of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has significantly stepped up existing efforts to vet carrier (and in some instances broker) compliance with the Truck and Bus Regulation and the Drayage Truck Regulation of the California Air Resources Board (CARB). The CARB regulations have been adopted as a means of meeting California’s obligations under the federal Clean Air Act, hence the involvement of the EPA. Generally stated, the EPA asserts those regulations require that certain commercial vehicles operating in California, or to and from intermodal facilities in California, meet certain emission standards or be subject to penalties. The EPA further asserts the regulations impose obligations both on the vehicle “owner” and on carriers (and in some instances brokers) that might hire or dispatch such vehicles.
My association (NTA) has been contacted by multiple clients in the past week that have received similar letters from the EPA. You should be aware that none of these carriers are headquartered or otherwise “based” in California. Rather, EPA seems to be vetting compliance indiscriminately across the country. Companies receiving these letters should be aware that they have 10 days to request an extension of time to provide the detailed information that the EPA is seeking. Requests for extension must be supported by sworn declarations regarding the need for the extension. This time-frame puts significant pressure on companies to decide whether – and to what extent – they are required to respond substantively so they can then determine whether – and to what extent – extensions may be required.
It is imperative to take immediate action if and when faced with such a request from the EPA. If your company has been approached by the EPA, or if you have questions regarding your obligations under these regulations, feel free to reach out to the NTA’s endorsed attorney Miles L. Kavaller at 818-992-4243 or email him (firstname.lastname@example.org). This is getting ridiculous. Until next month, “Drive Safe – Drive Smart!”