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Safety Fitness Determination update: Rule not expected until May, per DOT report

By James Jaillet on

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Editor’s Note: In its semiannual regulatory update published in the Federal Register Jan. 7, the Department of Transportation included an entry on the Safety Fitness Determination rule the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has been working on in recent years.

The entry included listed as an “action item” a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for January 2014. CCJ published a story on that entry Jan. 7.

However, in a DOT-issued report from earlier in December, a more up to date timeline on the rule was included.

A proposed rule, per the report, is actually expected to be published May 30.

Here’s the original story, published Jan. 7:

In a Semiannual Regulatory Agenda report published Jan. 7, the Department of Transportation included an entry on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Safety Fitness Determination rule, which hints that a notice of proposed rulemaking will be published in January.

The rule would alter the agency’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability program and the data it uses to produce a carrier’s Safety Fitness Determination. Now, the agency only uses on-site compliance reviews to produce an overall safety rating for carriers.

With the new rule, however, the agency would begin using data from roadside inspections, crashes, investigations and violation history (essentially, the components of a carriers CSA Safety Measurement Score) to produce a Safety Fitness Determination for a carrier.

Related: Rulemaking 101: The process behind FMCSA’s regulatory agenda

The entry in the regulatory update doesn’t directly say the rulemaking notice will be published this month, but it does include an action item listed for January 2014 labeled “NPRM” — Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

However, that may not be entirely accurate, as the report’s entry on an electronic logging device rule lists publication of a Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking as an action item in November 2013, which did not happen. Also, the entry — though included in the Jan. 7-issued update from the DOT — is labeled as current through the spring of 2013.

Like the e-log rule, though, the agency had aimed to publish the Safety Fitness Determination rule last year: In December 2012 agency head Anne Ferro said the rule would come sometime in the middle of 2013.

The e-log entry did not offer any updates as far as content of the rule or when it would be published. FMCSA originally said it planned to publish the rule in September, before later pegging Nov. 18 as the date it would publish the SNPRM. Later it indicated Dec. 23 as a possible publication date.

The rule has not yet been published, and the OMB is still reviewing it.

The regulatory update also included an entry on the drug and alcohol clearinghouse rule the agency is working on. The entry says the agency must create the clearinghouse by Oct. 1, 2014.

The clearinghouse would be a database of truck drivers who have failed or refused a drug or alcohol test. Carriers would be required to upload information on failed or refused tests to the database and query the database in the driver hiring process.

James Jaillet

James Jaillet is the News Editor for CCJ and Overdrive. Reach him at jjaillet@randallreilly.com.

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