House Holds Roundtable Discussion of Fast Act’s Trucking-Related Provisions
Last Wednesday, the Highways and Transit Subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, held a roundtable policy discussion focusing on the implementation of Title V of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. Participants of the roundtable included, in addition to members of the Subcommittee: Bill Quade of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA); Dave Osiecki, of the American Trucking Associations (ATA); Todd Spencer, of Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA); Bill Blankenship, of Greyhound Lines, Inc.; Collin Mooney, of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA); and Cathy Chase, of Advocates for Highways and Auto Safety.
Title V contains the motor carrier provisions of the FAST Act, including numerous provisions that are of particular importance to our members. To name a few, Title V includes the requirement that the FMCSA provide an annual report on CDL testing delay times in each state (Section 5506), a requirement that DOT create a pilot program to study the feasibility of allowing certain veterans between ages 18 and 21 drive commercial motor vehicles interstate (Section 5404), a provision allowing motor carriers to use hair testing as an acceptable alternative to urine testing (Section 5402), and a provision requiring FMCSA to prioritize the completion of the Entry-Level Driver Training Rule (Section 5302). Title V also contains numerous provisions aimed at deregulating the industry while maintaining safety on U.S. roads.
Though much of the discussion focused on how FMCSA uses data to regulate the trucking industry, participants also discussed FMCSA’s proposed entry-level driver training rule, as well as the driver shortage.
Specifically, ATA and most other participants expressed their support for the FAST Act’s requirement that FMCSA prioritize certain rulemakings – including entry-level driver training standards – before moving on to other proposed rules. (CVSA, however, expressed concern that a requirement that FMCSA prioritize these more controversial rulemakings before moving on to others would prevent or delay completion of others.) Cathy Chase, of Advocates for Highways and Auto Safety, expressed her support for the “long-overdue” entry-level driver training rule and its requirement that new drivers complete a minimum amount of behind-the-wheel training hours. Ms. Chase explained that the minimum number of requisite hours agreed upon during negotiations – 30 – was agreed upon with all members at the table. When explaining why, she stated that “if you talk to a person outside of this room” and tell that that the minimum entry-level driver training requirement has no actual behind-the-wheel requirement, “they’ll think you’re crazy.” Todd Spencer, of OOIDA, also touched on the importance of the rule when describing his concerns that many of FMCSA’s extensive regulations do not actually produce safety. He pointed out that extensive enforcement proposals abound, but this entry-level driver training rule marks the “first time ever [that] we are actually going to require a driver to have some meager primitive experience operating that truck.” Ms. Chase also expressed her support for the proposed rule’s establishment of a national registry of approved training providers, which she said would address the problem of CDL mills.
Industry leaders and members of congress also touched on the national driver shortage and expressed a general agreement that there should be some sort of effort to look into this issue in more detail, including the ways that improving retention rates could help to address the shortage.
U.S. Assistant Attorney General for National Security Warns that Internet Connected Cars Could be Targets for Hackers
According to an April 13, 2016 Washington Post Article, John Carlin, U.S. Assistant Attorney General for National Security, spoke last week about his concerns regarding the extent to which internet-connected cars are vulnerable to hackers. Carlin, who was speaking at an auto industry conference in Detroit, stated in reference to internet-connected and driverless cars that “[t]here is no Internet-connected system where you can build a wall that’s high enough or deep enough to keep a dedicated nation-state adversary or a sophisticated criminal group out of the system."
To read the story in full, click here.
American Transportation Research Institute Launches Commercial Driver Survey To Gather Information on Sleep Apnea
According to an April 14, 2016 press release issued by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), the organization has begun work on “Understanding the Impacts of Sleep Apnea on Commercial Drivers,” which ATRI’s Research Advisory Committee identified as one of its top research priorities for 2016.
As one of the first steps in this research, ATRI has launched an online survey, which seeks input from commercial drivers “on their perspectives, personal experiences, and knowledge of sleep apnea.” The survey also “solicits information on sleep apnea assessments and treatments that drivers may have received, as well as the perceived effectiveness of those treatments.”
The online version of the survey will be available through mid-May and can be found here.
FMCSA Requests Comments Regarding Missouri’s Application for Limited Exemption from Federal CDL Requirements
The Missouri Department of Revenue (Missouri DOR) has submitted a request for a limited exemption from FMCSA’s requirement that drivers pass the general knowledge test before being issued a Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP). Specifically, the Missouri DOR would like FMCSA to exempt certain qualified veterans who participated in dedicated training (i.e. trained military truck drivers) from the requirement that these drivers take and pass the knowledge test in order to obtain their CLP.
Among its arguments in favor of this exemption, the Missouri DOR maintains that this exemption is appropriate because “qualified veterans who have participated in dedicated training in approved military programs have already received numerous hours of classroom training, practical skills training, and one-on-one road training that are essential for safe driving.”
To read FMCSA’s notice in full, or to submit a comment, please click here.
Despite Concerns from Some Industry Leaders, NHTSA Moves Forward with Six Month Plan to Develop Regulations for Autonomous Vehicles
The Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) continues to move forward with its development of federal guidelines for automated cars. As part of DOT’s efforts to publish draft regulations for automated cars by July of this year, NHTSA announced that it would hold a series of public hearings meant to “gather information on a series of issues related to safe operation of automated vehicles.”
The first of these public hearings was held on April 8 of this year. Though some automakers expressed concerns regarding the aggressive timetable for the development of these regulations in April’s public hearing, NHTSA representatives defended the six month plan, pointing to the fact that, absent regulations, “people are going to just keep putting stuff on the road with no guidance on how we do this the right way.”
NHTSA is now moving forward with the second of its two scheduled hearings, announcing last week that its second hearing would be held on April 27, 2016 in Stanford, California. According to its official announcement, NHTSA is seeking input from the public “on those aspects of automated vehicle (AV) systems that would benefit from operational guidelines.”
To register for this hearing or to find out more, please click here.