You have a right to weigh in on proposed regulations

When it comes to elected officials, most people know their voice in the process is their vote. But, what happens once those lawmakers are in office and pass laws that in turn dictate that federal agencies impose even more regulations? Are you cut out of the process?

Elsewhere you’ll read about talking to members of Congress and how OOIDA will help you stay informed so you can be active on new laws they enact.

But what about FMCSA? Does a truck driver have a voice there? The short answer: You bet.

The rulemaking process, which arrives at new regulations that can dictate almost any aspect of your trucking life, is open to the public and you do have a voice. Unfortunately, not many truckers take advantage of it.

Speed limiters, for example. It appeared to be the one thing that all truckers agreed on. It’s a bad idea

and it’s unsafe. Yet out of some3 million-plus truckers not even 7,000 truckers took advantage of their right to comment on the proposed regulation. Of course OOIDA did. But that’s not enough. Truckers must be involved in this critical part of the process.

Don’t let the process intimidate you. It’s actually pretty simple.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, for example, collects comments on its “docket” located at Regulations.gov.

Before you start through the electronic process on the Internet, be sure you have the correct Docket ID. This is how the system knows what you are specifically talking about in your comments.

The Docket ID identifies a regulatory action the agency is putting in the record for public view and possible comment. It will contain a series of letters and numbers separated by dashes. For example, FMCSA-2014-0083 is the docket related to the proposed speed limiter mandate. (Don’t bother commenting on it now because it’s closed, but you may get another chance later.) The dashes are critical when looking up a particular rulemaking. When you’re searching for a specific document to comment on, if you use the dashes incorrectly – or not at all – you won’t find the document you’re looking for.

The box below will walk you through finding the docket that is open for comments and through the commenting process.

  • Go to Regulations.gov
  • Fill in the "Search" field with the Docket ID and either hit "enter" or click on "Search."
  • Click on the title of the docket you want to comment on. Once on that page a “Comment Now” button will appear. Click on the icon.
  • Type in your comment
  • Fill in your name (You can do it anonymously, but names are better)
  • You don’t have to give your contact info (If you do, it will appear with your comments)
  • Under category, select "Public Comment(s)"
  • Hit continue
  • Preview your comments
  • Hit "I read and understand the statement above"
  • Click "Submit comments"

You can have someone else do it for you online, too, if you want to enlist a kid, grandkid or tech-savvy friend to help. The steps are the same except that on the first page they should click that they are submitting for a third party and fill out their info as the representative. The other fields are unnecessary.

Of course, submitting comments electronically via the internet isn’t your only option. Do you prefer to hand-write or type it out and fax it? Easy enough. On the top of the page include the Docket ID. Make sure you include your name. Then you can:

Fax COMMENTS with the Docket ID number to 202-493-2251;

MAIL COMMENTS with the Docket ID number to:

Docket Management Facility
U.S. Department of Transportation
Room W-12-140, 1200 New Jersey Ave. SE, Washington, DC 20590-0001

Or, if you are super ambitious, hand deliver comments between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday except on federal holidays to the ground floor of the U.S. Department of Transportation building, Room W-12-140, 1200 New Jersey Ave. SE, Washington, D.C.LL