FMCSA to address TRALA concerns over registrant-only DOT numbers

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The Truck Renting and Leasing Association recently met with top Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration officials to continue ongoing discussions with the agency regarding concerns with the announced elimination of the registrant-only U.S. Department of Transportation number.

The registrant-only option is used by owners of commercial motor vehicles – including many TRALA members – that are not motor carriers but rent and lease their trucks to motor carriers. TRALA said it was pleased to learn in the meeting that FMCSA will be addressing all of the major concerns raised by the association over the past year.

FMCSA said it will be publishing a notice in the Federal Register within the next few weeks outlining exactly how the agency plans to proceed with elimination of the registrant-only option, and any steps that renting and leasing companies will have to take. The effective date of the change is expected to be in October.

One of the biggest concerns TRALA has been discussing with FMCSA is the industry’s opposition to new entrant safety audits for existing leasing companies that are forced to switch from a registrant-only designation to a motor carrier designation. The absence of the registrant-only option will require many leasing companies to register as private motor carriers or intrastate nonhazmat carriers, TRALA said.

According to TRALA, FMCSA signaled its agreement with TRALA and that it intends to exempt from new-entrant safety audits any truck renting and leasing company that has been registered with FMCSA prior to March 1, 2011. TRALA said this development will save renting and leasing companies money, time and administrative difficulties associated with federal audits that are not applicable to renting and leasing operations.

Throughout the discussion regarding elimination of the registrant-only DOT number, TRALA said it also has been stressing to FMCSA that misidentification of rental trucks by law enforcement personnel is a problem that needs to be addressed. TRALA said its members often are cited incorrectly for violations incurred by the operator of the truck because law enforcement personnel will cite the lessor’s DOT number displayed on the side of rental trucks instead of using the DOT number contained on the rental agreement, which is required by federal regulation to be carried in commercially rented trucks at all times.

TRALA, FMCSA and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance are planning to work together to educate law enforcement personnel on CMV marking regulations, as well as the best ways to correctly identify rental truck operators. In the next few weeks, TRALA will host a webinar in which top FMCSA officials will present their plans for moving forward with the elimination of the registrant-only DOT number to TRALA members and answer questions about the process.