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FMCSA plans to modify safety fitness proposal

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced that it plans to publish a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking (SNPRM) to pursue changes in the way the agency determines the safety fitness of motor carriers. FMCSA published an NPRM on safety fitness determinations (SFDs) in January 2016. The public comment period ended in June. The agency said that it determined that an SNPRM is an appropriate next step so it can "thoroughly evaluate and possibly incorporate" comments received on the NPRM and to address any recommendations resulting from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) study regarding the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program.

FMCSA said the anticipated rulemaking scheduled would be available in January 2017 through the Department of Transportation's monthly report of significant rulemakings, but the January report has not been published yet. However, FMCSA contracted with NAS in early 2016 for the study, which is expected to take 18 months. If an SNPRM is to respond to NAS recommendations, therefore, presumably it would not be published until this fall.

The NPRM was almost uniformly criticized by associations representing property and passenger carriers almost uniformly objected to major aspects of the NPRM. A provision in the House version of the transportation funding bill would have blocked the rule, but the funding bill enacted in December to fund the government through April did not include such a provision.

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