FMCSA Extends The Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee’s Charter

Have you heard of the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee (MCSAC)?

Chartered by Congress in 2006, the MCSAC has been given a mandate to provide information, advise and recommendations to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regarding safety programs and regulatory initiatives for heavy duty commercial motor vehicles and commercial buses.

Who Are They?

The MCSAC is primarily comprised of trucking safety, advocacy, enforcement, labor and industry stakeholders. Members are chosen through an FMCSA application process. Each member is selected from a pool who meet two requirements:

  1. They are not employees of the FMCSA.
  2. They are specially qualified to serve on the committee based on education, training or experience.

Upon MCSAC’s creation, then-FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro stated that it was intended to “help FMCSA raise the bar for carriers to enter the industry, maintain high safety standards to remain in the industry, and remove high risk carriers and drivers from our roadways.”

Around the same time, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood remarked in regards to MCSAC that “at DOT, safety is our highest priority. Working with partners who provide us with greater knowledge, experience and ideas will only help us make our nation’s highways even safer.”

Fortunately for the 20-person committee, on September 29 their mandate was renewed for two years. Yet they are operating within an anti-regulatory environment, so what could their mandate possibly be?

How Their Mandate is Changing

According to President Trump’s Executive Order 13771, agencies are required to relieve businesses of burdensome regulations. As such, the FMCSA gave a presentation to the committee regarding which federal highway safety rules might be eliminated.

FMCSA spokesman Duane DeBruyne stated as such when he was recently quoted saying the presentation was intended to “introduce a new FMCSA assignment to the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee members, agency staff prepared a short PowerPoint presentation outlining some possible ‘regulatory relief’ candidates that could be suggested or included in response to the Presidential Executive Order. MCSAC, which is comprised of a broad representation of all of FMCSA’s stakeholders, is now tasked to come up with their own independently derived recommendations.”

During the presentation, the FMCSA pinpointed 12 rules governing commercial motor vehicle use that they recommended be scaled back or eliminated. Making MCSAC’s job even harder, each of the rules slated for the chopping block are intended to improve trucking safety. How does one pick which safety initiative is better or worse than another?

One way is to first look at rules that are so old they may now be outdated or others that may no longer be enforced for whatever reason. One example of this are the Motor Carrier Routing Regulations found under Part 325 of the FMCSRs.

These rules are nothing more than the remnants of the now-shut down Commerce Commission. Some ask whether they even serve a purpose anymore. In their presentation, the FMCSA stated that eliminating the rules could simplify regulatory burdens while having little to no economic impact.

The agency also singled out rules and reporting requirements governing everything from medical records to road test results and state cooperation agreements. In conclusion, the FMCSA recommended a three-step process for the MCSAC to consider as part of the regulatory reform process:

  1. Contact additional industry stakeholders and conduct more outreach and solicit opinion.
  2. Seek public comment on the Federal Register through a DOT notice.
  3. Move forward with FMCSA rule making and planning.

Of course, DeBruyne did stress that the MCSAC should act independently in order to come up with the best recommendations while remaining in line with the executive order. In short, they are urged to recommend the elimination of the 12 rules, but are not bound to do so.