FMCSA tanks proposal requiring certification stickers on all trucks

By Jami Jones, Land Line managing editor | 12/29/2015

Truckers whose trucks are missing the manufacturer’s sticker that certified compliance with the regulations when the trucks were built don’t have anything to worry about.

On Dec. 29 the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration withdrew a notice of proposed rulemaking. It would have required all trucks operating in interstate commerce to display a label applied by the manufacturer or registered importer that the vehicle complied with all vehicle safety standards at the time of manufacture.

The rulemaking was in response to a National Transportation Safety Board recommendation that the stickers be required on all vehicles. The recommendation stemmed from a motorcoach crash near Victoria, Texas, in January 2008.

The NTSB determined that driver fatigue was the cause of the crash that killed one and injured 46 others. The NTSB also noted that although the vehicle did not meet the federal motor vehicle safety standards, the mechanical condition of the motorcoach was not a factor in this crash. Yet, the NTSB recommended following the crash that all CMVs have the compliance sticker affixed throughout the life of the vehicle.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association opposed the proposed regulation. In comments filed in response to the NPRM, the Association leadership stated the proposal would have no effect on highway safety and would add another cost to owner-operators.

“OOIDA fails to see how requiring the carrier to maintain proof of a vehicle’s compliance with the (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards) when it was initially manufactured, a date that for the average owner-operator or small business trucker took place eight years ago, will improve highway safety today,” the comments state.

The Association pointed out a number of reasons why the original compliance sticker could be missing or illegible in the comments.

“There are CMVs that have been repaired due to accident damage, which incidentally left the vehicle with no certification label. The simple step of repainting a CMV, depending upon the location of the certification label, could render the label illegible,” the comments state.

The onus on compliance at the time of manufacture is on the original equipment manufacturer or the registered importer of the vehicle, OOIDA pointed out. It is not the responsibility of the truck owner.

OOIDA pointed out that requiring truck owners to maintain the sticker throughout the life of the truck would be impossible in some cases and would add an additional expense to the truck owner in the event one is damaged or missing.

“Undoubtedly, this proposal will create costs for carriers to comply. The great diversity of CMVs in operation, especially by small fleets and individual owner-operators, includes many vehicles which were made by manufacturers that are no longer in business,” the comments state.

Additionally, the Association points out that the requirement would be applied to trucks that would have passed multiple annual inspections and roadside inspections in order to operate in interstate commerce. That alone, according to OOIDA, is an ongoing process to ensure that the trucks are safe and in compliance with the operational requirements of the safety regulations.

“It is unreasonable for FMCSA to place such a burden on hundreds of thousands of motor carriers when it cannot show in its own regulatory proposal what safety benefit would actually be achieved from this new requirement,” OOIDA stated in its comments.

In the agency’s notice to withdraw the proposal, slated to publish in the Federal Register on Dec. 30, the agency noted that the 19 commenters raised substantive issues. The agency was led to conclude that it would be inappropriate to move forward with a final rule based on the proposal.

The agency noted that the regulations, as are, effectively ensure that motor carriers maintain the safety equipment and features provided by the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards through enforcement, making an additional certification labeling regulation unnecessary.

Copyright © OOIDA