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Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation: Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards Certification for Commercial Motor Vehicles Operated by United States-Domiciled Motor Carriers; Withdrawal


American Government Topics:  Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards

Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation: Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards Certification for Commercial Motor Vehicles Operated by United States-Domiciled Motor Carriers; Withdrawal

T.F. Scott Darling, III
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
December 30, 2015


[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 250 (Wednesday, December 30, 2015)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 81503-81506]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-32868]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

49 CFR Part 393

[Docket No. FMCSA-2014-0428]
RIN 2126-AB67


Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation: Federal Motor 
Vehicle Safety Standards Certification for Commercial Motor Vehicles 
Operated by United States-Domiciled Motor Carriers; Withdrawal

AGENCY: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), DOT.

ACTION: Notice of withdrawal.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) 
withdraws its June 17, 2015, notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), 
which would have required each commercial motor vehicle (CMV) operated 
by a

[[Page 81504]]

United States-domiciled (U.S.-domiciled) motor carrier engaged in 
interstate commerce to display a label applied by the vehicle 
manufacturer or a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Registered 
Importer to document the vehicle's compliance with all applicable 
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSSs) in effect as of the 
date of manufacture. FMCSA withdraws the NPRM because commenters raised 
substantive issues which have led the Agency to conclude that it would 
be inappropriate to move forward with a final rule based on the 
proposal. Because the FMVSSs critical to the operational safety of CMVs 
are cross-referenced in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations 
(FMCSRs), FMCSA has determined that it can most effectively ensure that 
motor carriers maintain the safety equipment and features provided by 
the FMVSSs through enforcement of the FMCSRs, making an additional 
FMVSS certification labeling regulation unnecessary.

DATES: The NPRM ``Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation: 
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards Certification for Commercial 
Motor Vehicles Operated by United States-Domiciled Motor Carriers,'' 
published on June 17, 2015 (80 FR 34588), is withdrawn as of December 
30, 2015.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: If you have questions on this Notice 
of withdrawal, contact Mr. Michael Huntley, Chief, Vehicle and Roadside 
Operations Division, Office of Policy, Federal Motor Carrier Safety 
Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590-0001, 
by telephone at (202) 366-9209 or via email at Michael.Huntley@dot.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background/General Issues Raised During Comment Period

    On June 17, 2015, FMCSA published an NPRM to require motor carriers 
to display an FMVSS certification label (80 FR 34588).
    The FMCSRs require that motor carriers operating CMVs in the U.S., 
including Mexico- and Canada-domiciled carriers, ensure that the 
vehicles are equipped with the applicable safety equipment and features 
specified in 49 CFR part 393, Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe 
Operations, which includes cross references to safety equipment and 
features that must be installed at the time of production. The National 
Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) requires vehicle 
manufacturers to certify that the vehicles they produce for sale and 
use in the U.S. meet all applicable FMVSSs in effect at the time of 
manufacture. In addition, they must affix an FMVSS certification label 
to each vehicle in accordance with the requirements of 49 CFR part 567.
    As proposed, the NPRM would have required U.S.-domiciled motor 
carriers engaged in interstate commerce to use only CMVs that display 
an FMVSS certification label affixed by the vehicle manufacturer 
indicating that the vehicle: (1) Satisfied all applicable FMVSSs in 
effect at the time of manufacture; or (2) has been modified to meet 
those standards and legally imported by a DOT-Registered- Importer. In 
the absence of such a label (e.g., because of vehicle damage or 
deliberate removal), the motor carrier would have been required to 
obtain, and a driver upon demand present, a letter issued by the 
vehicle manufacturer stating that the vehicle satisfied all applicable 
FMVSSs in effect on the date of manufacture.

Discussion of Comments to the NPRM

    FMCSA received 19 comments on the NPRM. The Commercial Vehicle 
Safety Alliance (CVSA), which represents State and Provincial agencies 
throughout North America responsible for motor carrier safety 
enforcement, supported the proposed rule, but stated ``While CVSA 
supports the NPRM, it should be noted that, in our opinion, the best 
way to prevent non-FMVSS-compliant vehicles from operating in the U.S. 
by U.S.-domiciled motor carriers is to identify them at the point of 
titling, vehicle registration, or importation. Roadside inspections 
should be the secondary means of verifying that CMVs were FMVSS 
compliant at the time of manufacture.'' One anonymous commenter also 
supported the proposed rule.
    Each of the remaining commenters opposed the proposal, including 
six trade associations representing the trucking industry, equipment 
manufacturers, and dealers (One trade association submitted two 
comments each covering a different issue). These associations are the 
American Trucking Associations (ATA), the National Automobile Dealers 
Association (NADA), the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA), the 
Truckload Carriers Association (TCA), the Owner-Operator Independent 
Drivers Association (OOIDA), and the Truck and Engine Manufacturers 
Association (EMA). Three motor carriers submitted comments: Double D 
Distribution (Mark Droubay), United Parcel Service (UPS) and YRC 
Freight (YRC). Nine individuals submitted comments, including 
Congressman Richard L. Hanna from New York.

Comments in Opposition to the NPRM

    Commenters opposed the proposed rule for the following reasons:
     The rule would provide no safety benefits.
     FMVSS markings, particularly on trailers, are subject to 
damage, over-painting, and loss over the life of the vehicle. No 
certification marking is permanent.
     Many of the manufacturers have gone out of business, been 
purchased, or are overseas; obtaining a replacement certification or 
letter may not be possible.
     The proposal does not recognize the issues raised by 
interlining and other operational patterns.
     The rule would impose significant costs on carriers, which 
FMCSA has failed to estimate.
     The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) 
recommendation on which the proposal was based resulted from a bus 
crash that was unrelated to the standards to which the coach was 
manufactured.

No Safety Benefits

    Several of the industry associations, the three motor carriers, and 
seven individuals who opposed the proposed rule in general stated that 
it would not enhance safety and that FMCSA had provided no safety 
rationale for the rule. OOIDA stated that most small carriers and 
owner/operators purchase used equipment. OOIDA also stated that it 
failed to see how maintaining proof of a CMV's compliance at the time 
of manufacture would improve safety years later. ATA and TCA stated 
that original certification has little if anything to do with the 
condition and safe operation of a CMV after it is purchased. ATA stated 
that FMCSA had provided no evidence of any crashes where lack of 
certification was responsible for the crash. UPS stated that the 
proposal appeared to be for the convenience of inspectors, not to 
improve safety.

Issues Related to Markings

    ATA and others stated that no external markings on a CMV are 
permanent. YRC stated that it was primarily concerned with markings on 
trailers, converter dollies, and container chassis, which are affixed 
to the outside of the vehicle and subject to wear and tear from road 
conditions and may be painted over or removed during refurbishment. ATA 
submitted

[[Page 81505]]

information from a survey of motor carriers. Of the responding motor 
carriers, 42 percent reported having missing or unreadable 
certification labels. No motor carrier surveyed indicated that the 
equipment did not have a label because it had not been designed to be 
compliant with the FMVSSs.

Issues Related to Replacement Certifications

    The industry associations stated that FMCSA had not understood the 
difficulty of obtaining a replacement certification. ATA, Congressman 
Richard L. Hanna and others stated that many of the vehicle 
manufacturers have gone out of business or have been sold. Those that 
are out of business could not produce a replacement; the new owners of 
the manufacturers that have been sold might not have the records or may 
be unwilling to be liable for vehicles produced by the original 
manufacturer. ATA provided a list of 21 manufacturers that are out of 
business or have been sold. It also noted that current manufacturers 
may be reluctant out of fear of liability to provide certificates for 
equipment that may not have been maintained or may have been altered. 
For intermodal chassis, many of which were manufactured overseas, ATA 
stated that it will not be possible to identify or find the 
manufacturer.
    EMA raised a related issue: Multiple companies are involved in the 
manufacture and certification of most Class 3 through 7 vehicles and 
about half of the Class 8 vehicles. Under the proposal, EMA stated that 
a carrier would have to contact the final-stage manufacturer for a 
replacement, but the identity of that manufacturer may not be obvious 
as it is frequently not the nameplate company. EMA stated that its 
members charge a fee for replacement certificates.
    YRC and UPS stated that the alternative of a letter, kept with the 
equipment, is problematic. YRC stated that trailers and converter 
dollies are routinely used by non-owners during interlining, intermodal 
agreements, and equipment leases. UPS stated that the requirement to 
keep the letter with the trailer would require a secure compartment, 
which trailers do not currently have. ATA stated that containers and 
trailers may be sealed and asked if FMCSA was expecting inspectors to 
break seals to review a letter that spoke to compliance years in the 
past. ATA also stated that the proposed rule would result in penalizing 
drivers and carriers for missing labels on equipment they did not own 
which was in safe operating condition. ATA stated that for intermodal 
chassis, a database exists that would provide a better source of the 
information for inspectors.

Cost Impacts

    The industry associations and motor carriers stated that FMCSA had 
failed to consider or estimate the significant costs associated with 
the proposed rule. They listed the following potential costs:
     The time required to survey equipment to determine whether 
certificate information still existed on equipment.
     The time required to identify the manufacturer and obtain 
a replacement certificate or letter.
     The time required for a driver/carrier picking up 
equipment owned by another carrier to check for the label, certificate, 
or letter.
     The operational disruption if CMVs had to be removed from 
service until replacements could be obtained or replaced altogether if 
the manufacturer no longer exists.
     The fees charged for replacement certificates.
    UPS estimated that of its 77,000 trailers, 10,000 no longer have 
the decals. It would need to identify the manufacturer, if it still 
exists, to request a replacement. YRC stated that the initial audit of 
its equipment would require hundreds of hours of time by drivers, 
mechanics, and others, followed by the process of obtaining a 
replacement label if possible. If the manufacturer no longer exists, 
the rule would require that the equipment be removed from service. One 
carrier (32 tractors with 70 trailers) estimated that it would cost 
$18,000 to add/replace labels currently missing and $4,000-$6,000 
annually to audit the equipment to ensure that tags are still there. 
ATA cited a comment from a member that it was charged $150 for a 
replacement decal for a trailer. ATA provided data from 20 carriers on 
the number of pieces of equipment missing decals--8,411 out of 47,000 
CMVs.
    ATA also cited another member, a propane distributor, which had 29 
trailers without certificates, most manufactured by companies that no 
longer exist. The proposal would require replacement of all of these 
trailers. NPGA stated that even when replacements could be obtained, 
taking the equipment out of service until the certificate or letter 
arrived would disrupt services and impose significant costs to lease 
replacements. NPGA and others noted that, even if the manufacturer is 
still in business, the carrier has no way to compel it to process a 
request quickly. EMA noted that completing a letter would take an hour 
or more of a manufacturer's expert's time. NADA's American Truck 
Dealers Division stated that any requirement that dealers not sell CMVs 
that lack certificates would be unacceptable and could cost dealers $3 
million annually (assuming 1 hour/week to examine vehicles and obtain 
replacements), it also noted that small dealerships spend considerably 
more per employee on compliance than larger firms do.
    OOIDA stated that FMCSA must do a cost-benefit analysis and then 
publish a supplemental notice.

Other Comments

    NPGA stated that it could support the requirement if it applied 
only to CMVs manufactured after the effective date of the rule. In the 
alternative, FMCSA should set the compliance period at 24 months to 
give carriers enough time to implement the provision without disrupting 
operations. UPS and YRC stated that they would support a prospective 
requirement provided the label was a permanent plate. UPS stated that 
it understood that the data connecting serial number and status at 
manufacture are available in State databases. Although these data may 
not be accessible at roadside inspection, they are available 
electronically. OOIDA stated that the burden should be on the seller of 
used vehicles, not the purchaser.
    Many of the industry commenters stated that the NTSB report did not 
provide a justification for the proposal.

FMCSA Decision To Withdraw the NPRM

    After review and analysis of the public comments discussed in the 
preceding section, FMCSA has decided to withdraw the June 2015 NPRM. We 
will continue to uphold the operational safety of CMVs on the Nation's 
highways through continued enforcement of the FMCSRs, many of which 
cross-reference specific FMVSSs.
    Generally, U.S.-domiciled motor carriers operating CMVs (as defined 
in 49 CFR 390.5) in interstate commerce have access only to vehicles 
that either were manufactured domestically for use in the United States 
with the required certification label or were properly imported into 
the United States in accordance with applicable NHTSA regulations, 
including certification documentation requirements of 49 CFR part 567. 
Furthermore, FMCSA's safety regulations incorporate and cross reference 
the FMVSSs critical to continued safe operation of CMVs.

[[Page 81506]]

    FMCSA believes continued strong enforcement of the FMCSRs in real-
world operational settings, coupled with existing regulations and 
enforcement measures, will ensure the safe operation of CMVs in 
interstate commerce. Under the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program, 
FMCSA and its State and local partners conduct more than 2.3 million 
roadside vehicle inspections each year of CMVs (domiciled in the United 
States, Canada, or Mexico) operating in interstate commerce. 
Enforcement of the FMCSRs, and by extension the FMVSSs they cross-
reference, is the bedrock of these compliance assurance activities.
    Simply requiring CMVs to bear FMVSS certification labels would not 
ensure their operational safety. An FMVSS label certifying compliance 
with performance standards applicable to lights, brakes, and other wear 
items does not ensure real-world safety in the absence of compliance 
with the operational and maintenance standards imposed by the FMCSRs, 
especially in the case of vehicles built many years ago. Although the 
presence or absence of an FMVSS compliance label can certainly provide 
a useful tool in this regard, inspection of the CMV's compliance with 
the FMCSRs remains the benchmark by which enforcement officials 
identify and remove from service vehicles likely to break down or cause 
a crash. The American public is better protected by the FMCSRs than 
solely through a label indicating a CMV was originally built to certain 
manufacturing performance standards.
    Therefore, after careful consideration, FMCSA has concluded it is 
not necessary to amend the FMCSRs to require CMVs to display an FMVSS 
certification label in order to achieve effective compliance with the 
FMVCRSs.
    In view of the foregoing, the NPRM concerning certification of 
compliance with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards is 
withdrawn.

    Issued under the authority of delegation in 49 CFR 1.87 on 
December 23, 2015.
T.F. Scott Darling, III,
Acting Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2015-32868 Filed 12-29-15; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-EX-P

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