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U.S. Transportation Secretary Slater Announces Tough New Safety Rule For Shutting Down Unfit Motor Carriers

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Trucking Topics:  Rodney E. Slater

U.S. Transportation Secretary Slater Announces Tough New Safety Rule For Shutting Down Unfit Motor Carriers

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
August 24, 2000

Thursday, August 24, 2000
Contact: David Longo
Tel: (202) 366-0456
FMCSA 13-00

Invoking law that gives the U.S. Transportation Department tough enforcement power for improving safety, U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater today announced a major change to the fitness procedures of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. The change will require all "unfit" motor carriers to improve or stop operating their trucks and buses in interstate commerce.

"This rule will save lives by applying our fitness standard to all large trucks, instead of only passenger buses and trucks hauling hazardous materials," Secretary Slater said. "This strong enforcement tool provided for by TEA-21 will help in our efforts to reduce truck- and bus-related deaths by half in the next 10 years and improve safety, which is President Clinton and Vice President Gore’s highest transportation priority."

This action, a final rule that becomes effective on Nov. 20, 2000, prohibits any motor carrier found to be unfit from operating commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce. It applies powers provided by the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st century (TEA-21). Previously established motor carrier safety regulations provided shutdown procedures only for passenger and hazardous material (HAZMAT) carriers with unsatisfactory ratings.

Under this amended rule, the FMCSA will consider an unsatisfactory safety rating a determination that a carrier is unfit. An unsatisfactory safety rating means that a motor carrier does not have adequate safety controls in place. These safety ratings are assigned by safety investigators as a result of compliance reviews during which federal regulatory violations are discovered and on-the-road performance factors are examined.

"This change provides FMCSA powerful leverage to force unsafe carriers to comply with federal safety regulations," FMCSA Acting Deputy Administrator Clyde J. Hart Jr. said.

Key features of the final rule include the following:

Most motor carriers will have 60 days after the FMCSA makes a determination of unfitness to improve their safety fitness or cease operations. 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 HAZMAT carriers will continue to have 45 days to correct deficiencies.
  • The regulation will not be applied retroactively. It applies only to motor carriers rated unsatisfactory on or after the effective date of the 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 unfit as determined by a safety regulator, the new provisions will apply.
  • Under a provision of TEA-21, federal agencies will be prohibited from using a motor carrier to provide interstate transportation if it has been rated unsatisfactory on or after the effective date of a final rule.

    The final rule was in the Aug. 22, 2000 Federal Register under Docket No. OMCS-99-5467 (formerly Docket No. FHWA-99-5467). This change was proposed in a Federal Register notice on Aug. 16, 1999.

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