FMCSA issues final rule to implement FAST Act

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has issued a final rule to implement eight non-discretionary provisions mandated by the FAST Act, the new highway bill.

The FAST Act provisions now implemented by FMCSA cover:

Applications for Exemptions (extends time frame of an exemption from two years to five years)
Electronic Logging Device Requirements (for recreational vehicle operators)
Covered Farm Vehicles
Operators of Hi-Rail Vehicles
Ready Mix Concrete Delivery Vehicles
Transportation of Construction Materials and Equipment
Exemptions from Requirements for Certain Welding Trucks Used in Pipeline Industry
Hazardous Materials Endorsement Exemption

FMCSA’s adoption of these regulations, the agency notes, is a “non-discretionary, ministerial action” taken without issuing a notice of proposed rulemaking and receiving public comment, in accordance with the good-cause exception available to federal agencies under the Administrative Procedure Act.

In a recent Senate hearing on implementation of the FAST Act, a representative of regulatory enforcement agencies said that while the reforms, overall, will “dramatically” improve truck safety, the exemptions are problematic.

“While CVSA may not have a specific opposition to the exemptions on an individual basis, complications have already surfaced regarding their implementation,” Major Jay Thompson of the Arkansas Highway Police, current president of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, said. “Putting the exemptions into place takes time.”

He noted that FMCSA has to develop guidance on the exemptions, and the states must then go through their respective processes for adoption and implementation. And in some states, that requires legislation—but some state legislatures only convene every two years.