FMCSA Faces Legal Challenges With New Rule

Kevin Anderson Regulations, Transportation

The FMCSA is in the rulemaking business yet again. One of the newest rule proposals by the federal agency is Safety Fitness Determination which will classify motor carriers as unfit to work under certain circumstances. Known as SFD, the new rule will regulate and introduce new methods for the agency to label companies as safe or not.

Under the current safety rating system there are three different classifications a motor carrier can have. A motor carrier is rated as either satisfactory, conditional, or unsatisfactory. The current system is the CSA and BASIC system which uses behavior analysis and safety improvement categories to rate companies, but it has come under fire by lawmakers. Criticisms of the current system include the fact that it is too complex and difficult for the regulators to enforce evenly across a large, diverse industry.

What the Rule Would Do

The proposed rule would seek to make the agency’s ability to rate companies easier and more streamlined. According to the agency, carriers would be evaluated on a monthly basis to determine whether they are breaking basic safety rules such as hours of service requirements and unsafe driving. If a carrier fails an inspection, then the carrier would be labeled as unfit for service by the agency. BASICs would still be the standard used by the agency, and a label of unfit would require two or more failures of BASICs.

The agency is justifying this new rule in a number of ways. According to the FMCSA, they do not currently assess the safety of enough carriers. This new system would allow them to inspect and review more companies. In addition, the new proposal would encompass more data than is used in the current system to rate a company as unfit. But since the FMCSA is essentially employing the same metrics to measure safety, it is not exactly being welcomed by the industry.

Legal Challenge by Trucking Industry

The announcement of a new rule by the FMCSA was met with scepticism and opposition by at least a few industry leaders. A coalition of such stakeholders announced that they would sue to stop the rule. According to those involved, the new rule is a clear violation of the spirit and intent of the recently passed FAST Act. That law forced the FMCSA to retool and study a number of practices inc

A legal challenge is not uncommon when it comes to the trucking industry and the FMCSA. Ever since the agency was created, it seems there has been a fractious and difficult relationship when it comes to regulation and rulemaking in general. Many trucking company owners and others involved in the industry see the agency as putting small companies out of business and putting undue, unreasonable requirements on truckers.

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