FMCSA withdraws plan for hours documents

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has withdrawn plans for collecting and using supporting documents to verify truckers’ duty status, stating it would publish a new notice of proposed rulemaking later. The move comes more than a year after the White House cleared a final rule that FMCSA decided not to publish.

A 1994 law directs FMCSA to specify the number, type and frequency of documents used to verify drivers’ record of duty status. The agency published its supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking in 2004 but published a withdrawal of that notice Oct. 18.

FMCSA said it withdrew the notice because of issues with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. Just before it was to publish a final rule last year, the agency said it discovered that the PRA analysis proposed for this rule did not account for the additional burdens of collecting and retaining documents under the existing requirements.

Many industry comments on the 2004 notice argued the requirement to verify, inspect and maintain all records generated by a driver was unrealistic and burdensome, particularly for small motor carriers. Many comments argued, moreover, that the definition of “supporting documents” was too broad.

Not even safety activists seemed to mourn the withdrawn notice. Public Citizen called it a “vague, diluted proposal” that put monitoring responsibility on industry participants. “Perhaps worst of all, the first suggestion of the use of supporting documentation appeared in proposed rulemaking in 1998, and now, almost 10 years later, FMCSA continues to falter,” it stated.