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Federal Highway Administration Toughens Key Safety Rule For Motor Carriers

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Trucking

Federal Highway Administration Toughens Key Safety Rule For Motor Carriers

Federal Highway Administration
August 18, 1999

Wednesday, August 18, 1999
Contact: David Longo
Tel: (202) 366-0456
FHWA 56-99

Implementing new provisions that give U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) tough enforcement power to improve safety, the FHWA today proposed a major change to the safety fitness procedures of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.

The proposed rule would prohibit all motor carriers found to be unfit from operating commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce. It would implement new powers provided for by the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), which President Clinton signed into law in June 1998.

"This bold action will help achieve our goal of reducing commercial vehicle-related deaths by half in the next 10 years," U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater said. "The impact of TEA-21 on commercial vehicle safety underscores this Administration’s determination and commitment to provide all Americans a safe and efficient transportation system."

The FHWA is proposing to use an unsatisfactory safety rating as an unfit determination. An unsatisfactory rating would mean that a motor carrier does not have adequate safety controls in place. The rating would result from a compliance review during which federal regulatory violations are discovered and on-the-road performance factors are examined.

"This change would provide FHWA a significant enforcement tool with which to improve motor carrier performance and shut down unsafe operators," said Federal Highway Administrator Kenneth R. Wykle.

Key features of the proposal include:

  • Motor carriers would have 60 days after the FHWA makes a determination of unfitness to improve operations or face shutdown. The agency may extend the compliance period another 60 days only if the motor carrier is making a good faith effort to improve its safety fitness.
  • Passenger and hazardous material (HM) motor carriers would continue to have 45 days to correct deficiencies.
  • The proposed regulation would not be applied retroactively. It would apply only to motor carriers rated unsatisfactory after the effective date of a final rule.
  • Carriers holding an unsatisfactory rating at the time the rule becomes effective are not subject to immediate shutdown. However, if after a follow up visit the carrier still is determined to be unfit by a safety investigator, the new provisions would apply.
  • The FHWA intends to carefully track the safety of operations of motor carriers currently holding unsatisfactory safety ratings to ensure that the safety of the traveling public is not exposed to increased risk from a motor carrier’s operation.
  • Under the provisions of TEA-21, federal agencies would be prohibited from using any motor carrier rated "unsatisfactory" on or after the effective date of a final rule to provide interstate transportation.

    The proposed rule was in the Aug. 16, 1999 Federal Register. Comments on the proposal must be submitted in writing by Sept. 15, 1999 to Docket Number FHWA-99-5467, Docket Clerk, U.S. DOT Dockets, Room PL-401, 400 Seventh Street, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20590-0001.


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