Calls to extend carrier rating proposal comment period begin

By Jami Jones, Land Line managing editor | Friday, February 19, 2016

Groups are calling on the feds to extend the comment period on a proposal to automatically rate carriers on a monthly basis, rather than stick with the current system of issuing ratings after compliance reviews.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is currently accepting comments on a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that outlines a proposal to modify how the agency issues safety fitness determinations to motor carriers.

Currently, motor carriers receive a rating only following a full-blown compliance review. Following the review, the agency issues a safety rating of “satisfactory,” “conditional” and “unsatisfactory.”

The feds are proposing to change that and allow for automatic issuance of the safety ratings – determining whether a motor carrier is fit to operate and should remain in business – based on five of the seven scored BASICs or categories in the Compliance, Safety, Accountability safety measurement program, an investigation or a combination of CSA data and an investigation. The ratings would be issued monthly.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association filed a petition on Feb. 16 with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to extend a 60-day comment period by 90 days. The American Moving and Storage Association filed a petition on Feb. 3 asking for an additional 60 days.

“The Safety Fitness Determination NPRM is an extremely complex proposal that requires a prolonged comment period to ensure that OOIDA, our membership and other stakeholders have ample opportunity to review the rulemaking and provide meaningful input,” OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer wrote in the petition. “Given the importance of this NPRM, OOIDA requests a 90-day extension to submit comments.”

Curiously enough, even though the NPRM sets a 60-day comment period, it does not appear that’s actually what FMCSA intended to do. Each month the agency reports on its “significant” rulemakings and where they are along in the process of review. Projected dates are given for the conclusion of each step, review by the Secretary of the Department of Transportation, White House, etc.

The report also projects when a rulemaking will publish in the Federal Register and how long the agency plans to accept comments. In the case of the carrier safety fitness determination notice of proposed rulemaking, the agency reported it planned to do a 90-day comment period. In fact, its latest report still shows a 90-day comment period concluding on April 20, as opposed to an NPRM deadline of March 21.

Regardless, the comment period for the proposal is open officially until March 21. The full proposal can be found at regulations.gov, under docket No. FMCSA-2015-001 where comments can also be filed.

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