Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act)

Final motor-carrier related provisions in the five-year highway bill. For the entire text of the legislation, click here.

 

Sections

Miscellaneous

Motor carrier safety grant consolidation

FMCSA reform

   Part 1: Regulatory reform

   Part 2: CSA reform

Commercial motor vehicle safety

Commercial motor vehicle drivers

General provisions

Hazardous materials transportation – Motor carrier-specific provisions

 

 

Miscellaneous

 

Interstate weight limits

Section 1410 allows higher weight limits on the Interstate System, including certain emergency and natural gas-powered vehicles; certain logging vehicles in Minnesota and Wisconsin; and commercial tow trucks during the time such trucks tow disabled vehicles to a repair facility.

 

 

Motor carrier safety grant consolidation

 

Grants to states

Section 5101 consolidates nine existing FMCSA grant programs into four and streamlines program requirements to reduce administrative costs and improve flexibility for states. The section also:

  • Makes several reforms to grant programs, including awarding priority to programs that train veterans and incentivizing the adoption of innovative truck and bus safety technologies

  • Authorizes funds for the consolidated grant programs for fiscal years 2017 through 2020 at levels consistent with the CBO’s baseline projections for the Highway Trust Fund

  • Requires that states grant maximum reciprocity for inspections conducted using a nationally accepted system that allows ready identification of previously inspected commercial motor vehicles.

 

Performance and registration information systems management

Section 5102 makes a conforming amendment to section 31106(b) of title 49, United States Code.

 

Authorization of appropriations

Section 5103 authorizes FMCSA’s administrative expenses for fiscal years 2016 through 2020.

 

Commercial driver’s license program implementation

Section 5104 directs more of the available funding for implementing federal standards for commercial driver’s licenses to the states by eliminating the set-aside for emerging and national issues related to commercial drivers licensing.

 

Extension of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Programs for fiscal year 2016

Section 5105 authorizes fiscal year 2016 funding for FMCSA grant programs as these programs currently exist.

 

Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program allocation

Section 5106 establishes a temporary working group of outside experts to advise the Secretary in the development of a new allocation formula for the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program.

 

Maintenance of effort calculation

Section 5107 establishes an interim maintenance of effort calculation for the fiscal years prior to the implementation of a new Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program allocation formula and authorizes a modified maintenance of effort calculation once a new allocation formula is implemented.

 

 

FMCSA reform

 

Part I: Regulatory reform

Notice of cancellation of insurance

Section 5201 authorizes the Secretary to suspend, in lieu of revoking, the operating authority of motor carriers during temporary lapses in insurance coverage.

 

Regulations

Section 5202 makes several reforms to the process FMCSA must follow when developing new motor carrier regulations to improve transparency and accountability, including standards for regulatory impact analyses and public participation in rulemakings.

 

Guidance

Section 5203 reforms the process FMCSA uses to issue regulatory guidance and enforcement policies. It requires FMCSA to ensure guidance and enforcement policies are publicly accessible, regularly reviewed to ensure consistency and relevancy, and incorporated into regulations whenever possible.

 

Petitions

Section 5204 reforms the process FMCSA uses when considering petitions for regulatory actions. FMCSA to make the petitions publicly accessible and sets a deadline for the agency to formally respond.

 

Inspector standards

Section 5205 requires FMCSA to incorporate into Part 385 regulations by reference the certification standards for roadside inspectors issued by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance.

 

Applications

Section 5206 requires FMCSA to establish procedures for the application and review of exemptions from any provision of the hours-of-service regulations for a class or group of motor carriers. It also requires that exemptions generally be valid for five years and makes permanent the following HOS exemptions:

  • Perishable construction products (April 2, 2015)

  • Transport of commercial bee hives (June 19, 2015)

  • Safe transport of livestock (June 12, 2015)

(The original provision would have made permanent a larger number of exemptions.)

 

Part II: CSA reform

Correlation study

Section 5221 requires the Administrator of the FMCSA to commission the National Academies to conduct a study on ways to improve the CSA program and report to Congress and the DOT Inspector General (IG) on the study’s findings. The section also requires FMCSA to provide a corrective action plan to Congress describing the improvements that will be made to the CSA program. The DOT IG is required to review the corrective action plan to ensure it responds to the study’s findings.

 

Beyond compliance

Section 5222 authorizes FMCSA to use the calculation of safety scores to incentivize motor carrier to install the latest safety technology on trucks and buses, adopt enhanced driver safety measures, implement safety management programs, and undertake other safety activities.

 

Data certification

Section 5223 prohibits the publication of CSA program scores and certain other data until the Inspector General certifies that the corrective action plan under section 5221 and improvements to the CSA program are implemented. FMCSA and its state and local partners may continue to use the information for investigation and enforcement prioritization, and carriers and drivers will still have access to their own data. One limited exception to the withholding of CSA scores from public view are motorcoach operators. A data analysis of motorcoach operators may be provided online with the following notation: 

“Readers should not draw conclusions about a carrier's overall safety condition simply based on the data displayed in this system. Unless a motor carrier has received an UNSATISFACTORY safety rating under part 385 of title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, or has otherwise been ordered to discontinue operations by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, it is authorized to operate on the Nation's roadways.”

 

Data improvement

Section 5224 requires FMCSA to develop functional specifications to ensure the consistent and accurate input of data into systems and databases relating to the CSA program.

 

Accident review

Section 5225 requires FMCSA's Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee to review the treatment of preventable crashes under the Safety Measurement System and make recommendations to the agency on a process to allow motor carriers and drivers to request a preventability determination on a crash. (The original version of this legislation would have mandated a demonstration program.)

 

 

Commercial motor vehicle safety

 

Windshield technology

Section 5301 updates regulations to allow for the mounting of innovative safety technologies on truck and bus windshields.

 

Prioritizing statutory rulemakings

Section 5302 requires FMCSA to prioritize the completion of rulemakings required by law.

 

Safety reporting system

Section 5303 requires the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to report to Congress on the feasibility of establishing a self-reporting system for motor carriers to report and correct en route equipment failures.

 

New entrant safety review program

Section 5304 requires the Secretary to assess the effectiveness of the FMCSA’s new operator safety review program and report to Congress on the results of the assessment.

 

High-risk carrier reviews

Section 5305 requires reviews on each motor carrier that demonstrates through performance data that it poses the highest safety risk.


Post-accident report review

Section 5306 establishes a working group to review data elements of post-accident reports for tow-away accidents involving commercial motor vehicles and recommend best practices for state post-accident reports.

 

Implementing safety requirements

Section 5307 accelerates the implementation of important FMCSA safety regulations required by law by requiring DOT to report on why the deadlines can’t be met and on what deadlines for those rules it actually will meet. The rulemakings specified are the drug and alcohol clearinghouse, electronic logging devices, minimum training standards for entry-level drivers, the visibility of agricultural equipment, motor carrier safety fitness determinations and any outstanding CMV safety regulation required by laws enacted on or after Aug. 1, 2005, and incomplete for more than two years.

 

 

Commercial motor vehicle drivers

 

Opportunities for veterans

Section 5401 requires DOT to reduce regulatory barriers faced by veterans seeking employment as commercial truck and bus drivers and, in cooperation with the Department of Defense to implement the recommendations of a report mandated by section 32308 of MAP–21.

 

Drug-free commercial drivers

Section 5402 authorizes the use of hair testing as an alternative to urine tests to screen for possible drug and alcohol use by commercial truck and bus drivers once standards have been established by for the Department of Health and Human Services. The section sets a one-year deadline for the Department of Health and Human Services to establish federal standards for hair testing.

 

Medical certifications of veterans for commercial driver's licenses

Section 5403 authorizes physicians employed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to certify the fitness of and provide a medical certificate to veterans with commercial driver’s licenses.

 

Commercial driver pilot program

Section 5404 authorizes a very limited pilot program that allows interstate driving of commercial motor vehicles by individuals who are (1) between 18 and 21; (2) a member or former member of the military services or reserves; and (3) qualified in a Military Occupational Specialty to operate a commercial motor vehicle or similar vehicle.

(The original versions of the House and Senate provisions would have allowed for participation by drivers under 21 regardless of military service in limited demonstration programs.)

 

 

General Provisions

 

Delays in goods movement

Section 5501 requires the DOT Inspector General to report on the impacts of delays in the pick-up and delivery of goods by motor carriers and drivers and make recommendations to Congress on ways to mitigate the delays. It also requires DOT to establish a process to collect data on delays.

 

Emergency route working group

Section 5502 establishes a temporary working group to advise DOT on ways to expedite the response time by utility and other vehicles providing emergency response and restoration to disaster zones. DOT must inform Congress on the actions that will be taken to implement the recommendations of the working group.

 

Household goods consumer protection working group

Section 5503 establishes a temporary working group to advise DOT on ways to improve public understanding of household goods movement and consumer protections.

 

Technology improvements

Section 5504 requires GAO to report to Congress on ways to improve FMSCA’s information technology and data collection systems.

 

Notification regarding motor carrier registration

Section 5505 requires DOT to inform Congress on the actions that will be taken to reduce delays in the registration of new motor carriers.

 

Report on commercial driver’s license skills test delays

Section 5506 requires FMCSA to report to Congress on the delays experienced by individuals seeking to take the skills test portion of their commercial driver’s license exam and what actions the agency is taking to address the delays.

 

Electronic logging device requirements

Section 5507 clarifies that motor carriers transporting motor homes or recreational vehicles to dealers or customers can continue to comply with the hours of service record of duty status requirements with a paper form.

 

Technical corrections

Section 5508 makes technical corrections to title 49, United States Code, and other motor carrier laws.

 

Minimum financial responsibility

Section 5509 requires DOT to consider several factors prior to issuing a final rule that would change minimum insurance requirements for commercial trucks. It also mandates a study of current levels of minimum insurance for commercial buses prior to initiating a rulemaking that would change such levels.

 

Safety study regarding double-decker motorcoaches

Section 5510 requires the Department of Transportation to conduct a study on the safety of operations of a double-decker motorcoach equipped with a luggage carrier at the rear of the vehicle;

 

GAO review of school bus safety

Section 5511 requires a GAO study of the safety of school bus transportation of elementary school and secondary school students.

 

Access to National Driver Registry

Section 5512 authorizes FMCSA to request information from state driver licensing officials on drivers in connection with safety investigations.

 

Report on design and implementation of wireless roadside inspection systems

Section 5513 requires a DOT study regarding the design, development, testing and implementation of wireless roadside inspection systems, including a determination of whether they:

  • Conflict with existing non-federal electronic screening systems, or create capabilities already available;

  • Require additional statutory authority to incorporate generated inspection data into the safety measurement system or the safety fitness determinations program; and

  • Provide appropriate restrictions to specifically address privacy concerns of affected motor carriers and operators.

 

Regulation of tow truck operations

Section 5514 restores the ability of state and local governments to regulate tow truck operations.

 

Study on commercial motor vehicle driver commuting

Section 5515 requires an FMCSA study of the effects of motor carrier operator commutes exceeding 150 minutes commuting time on safety and commercial motor vehicle driver fatigue.

 

Additional state authority

Section 5516 gives states the option to update routes associated with vehicle length restrictions provided that the update shifts routes to divided highways or does not increase centerline miles by more than 5% percent and the change is expected to increase safety performance.

 

Report on minimum levels of financial responsibility

Section 5517 requires by Jan. 1, 2017, a DOT report on the minimum levels of financial responsibility analyzing:

  • The differences between state insurance requirements and federal requirements

  • The extent to which current minimum levels adequately cover medical care, compensation and other identifiable costs

  • The frequency with which insurance claims exceed current minimum levels of financial responsibility

 

Covered farm vehicles

Section 5518 clarifies current law to ensure that states do not lose federal transportation funding when enacting state laws or regulations that provide exemptions or other minimum standards for operation of farm vehicles, including drivers of those vehicles, that are less stringent than the standards established for commercial motor vehicles and drivers under federal transportation laws and regulations.

 

Operators of hi-rail vehicles

Section 5519 ensures that up to two hours (and no more than 30 hours per month) of the time spent by an operator of a hi-rail vehicle driving to or from a duty assignment does not count toward the total “on-duty” time with respect to FMCSA’s hours-of-service regulations. It also ensures that such drivers may respond to an emergency situation without violating HOS regulations.


Automobile transporter

Section 5520 prohibits states from imposing a limitation of less than 80 feet on the length of a stinger-steered automobile transporter operating on the National Highway System and certain other roads.

 

Ready mix concrete delivery vehicles

Section 5521 clarifies that drivers of ready mix concrete trucks can utilize the hours-of-service 100 air-mile radius logbook exemption as long as such drivers do not exceed 14 consecutive hours of on-duty time per shift.

 

Transportation of construction materials and equipment

Section 5522 increases the air-mile radius from 50 airmiles to 75 air-miles for the transportation of construction materials and equipment, to satisfy the 24-hour reset period under Hours of Service rules. Gives states the ability to opt out of this increase if the distance is entirely included within the state’s borders.

 

Commercial delivery of light- and medium-duty trailers

Section 5523 permits two light- or medium-duty trailers to be towed together, only when empty and being delivered to a retailed for sale, subject to length and weight limitations, and operated by professional CDL drivers.


Exemptions from requirements for certain welding trucks used in the pipeline industry

Section 5524 exempts from federal motor carrier regulations pick-up style trucks owned by welders that are equipped with welding rigs used in the construction or maintenance of pipelines and has a gross combination weight rating and weight of 15,000 pounds or less.

 

Report

Section 5525 requires a report to Congress within four years on the safety and enforcement impacts of sections 5520-5524 and Section 7208.

 

 

Hazardous materials transportation – Motor carrier-specific provisions

 

Motor carrier safety permits

Section 7202 allows carriers to submit corrective actions or other documentation proving their safety worthiness, prior to FMCSA denying a Hazardous Material Safety Permit.

 

Wetlines

Section 7206 requires the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to withdraw the Jan. 27, 2011, notice of proposed rulemaking on safety requirements for external product piping on cargo tanks transporting flammable liquids.


Endorsements

Section 7208 allows states to waive the requirement to obtain a hazardous materials endorsement Class A commercial driver’s license holders who are custom harvesters, agricultural retailers, agricultural business employees, agricultural cooperative employees or agricultural producers while operating a service vehicle carrying diesel fuel in quantities of 1,000 gallons or less if the tank containing such fuel is clearly marked with a placard reading "Diesel Fuel."

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