Regulatory Roundup

While Congress is just returning from a recess, it is a good time to catch up on the regulatory front.

Hopefully, you had an opportunity to review and comment on the joint petition filed by UMA and ABA regarding the San Francisco International Airport Ground Transportation Rules inspection and permit requirement. Nearly every operator in the country has been frustrated by airports and their burdensome regulations—truly a burden to interstate commerce. The final Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) determination will affect nearly every motor carrier.

Also, of interest to operators is the California Meal and Rest Break Rules; Petition for Determination of Preemption. The FMCSA is considering a petition to exempt passenger carriers. In general, the California law requires an employer to provide a 30-minute uninterrupted, duty-free meal break if an employee works more than five hours in a workday, and a 10-minute uninterrupted, duty-free rest break for every four hours of work (or “major fraction” thereof). Noncompliance requires an employer to pay aggrieved employees one extra hour of regular pay for each day on which a meal break violation occurred, and another extra hour of regular pay for each day on which a rest break violation occurred. No consideration is afforded passenger safety, comfort or schedules. Earlier this year FMCSA preempted the law for property carriers. Inasmuch as some states may already have similar laws or be considering them, the preemption for passenger carriers is critical to the industry.

Garnering considerable attention is the Commercial Driver Pilot Program considering 18-to 20-year-olds. With the current driver shortage showing no end, many are reconsidering their former positions. Good idea? Bad idea? Suggestions? FMCSA is currently soliciting your comments and how young commercial drivers could be phased in. The comment period is open through July 15, 2019.

Speaking of drivers (or the lack thereof), FMCSA is currently requesting your comments regarding regulations “that may need to be amended, revised or eliminated to facilitate the safe introduction of Automated Driving Systems equipped Commercial Motor Vehicles.

Also seeking comment is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regarding the challenges of testing and verifying compliance with existing crash avoidance Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for Automated Driving System-Dedicated Vehicles that lack traditional manual controls necessary for a human driver to maneuver the vehicle and other features intended to facilitate operation of a vehicle by a human driver, but that are otherwise traditional vehicles with typical seating configurations. Ready or not, this technology is advancing, and operators should make sure they are informed regarding highly automated commercial vehicles and the effects on our industry.

NHTSA has also indicated a final rule date for Motorcoach Rollover Structural Integrity of June 30, 2019. Included as part of the USDOT’s Motorcoach Safety Action Plan (2009/2012), NHTSA’s 2007 “Approach to Motorcoach Safety” continues to progress. Rollover will be the second rulemaking after seat belts out of this multipronged approach to improving occupant protection.

We’re still anticipating final revisions to the Lease/Interchange for Passenger Carriers rule before the end of the year.

Mark your calendars. The Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse goes in effect Jan.6, 2020. Motor carriers and drivers can now visit the website and register.

Also, the long-awaited Entry-Level Driver Training becomes effective Feb. 7, 2020. New drivers will be required to have two certificates on file with their state DMV confirming their classroom and behind-the-wheel training before they can take their tests.

Finally, many FMCSA compliance reviews now require that you upload requested information through your portal. This is a huge time-saver for FMCSA and motor carriers alike as much of the review now takes place outside of your facility. If you have not visited your portal in a while, make sure your PIN number is active and you are prepared. Watch for upcoming training opportunities from UMA regarding using your portal.

All things considered; the regulatory burdens have been significantly lighter than recent years. Many operators have noticed the difference and commented. This seems to be an administration that has kept their word on curtailing burdensome regulations and permitting passenger carriers to focus on safe business operations. While always cautious when discussing the regulatory environment, let’s turn the green light on for now.

As always, let me know your thoughts!

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