FMCSA looking to make minor changes in language of federal inspection regs

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inspectionThe Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is proposing to amend regulations in two parts of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs).

The proposed amendments are for various provisions in the “Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation,” and the “Inspection, Repair and Maintenance” parts of the FMCSRs. The amendments come after the agency received several petitions for rulemaking from the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance and the American Trucking Associations, along with two safety recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board.

The amendments “generally do not involve the establishment of new or more stringent requirements, but instead clarify existing requirements to increase consistency of enforcement activities,” according to the notice of proposed rulemaking.

The proposed amendments that are more likely to affect drivers and carriers include:

  • Deleting the requirement for trucks to have a rear license plate light when state law doesn’t require the vehicle to have one. ATA requests that FMCSA amend this provision to clarify that a rear license plate lamp is required, except where state law doesn’t require it.
  • Clarifying a regulation regarding when violations or defects noted on a roadside inspection report need to be corrected. CVSA asked FMCSA to specifically require problems noted in roadside inspections “be corrected prior to redispatching the driver and/or vehicle.”
  • In the “Periodic Inspection” section of the FMCSRs, CVSA recommended removing language relating to roadside inspections because it believes roadside and periodic/annual inspections should be separate and not considered equal. With this amendment, roadside inspections will no longer meet the requirements of an annual inspection.
  • Prohibiting the use of speed-restricted tires on tractors regulated by FMCSRs unless the use of the tires is “specifically designated by the motor carrier.”

Other proposed amendments mainly just clarify the regulations for enforcement officials for use during inspections. These include:

  • Adding a definition of “major tread groove” to clarify what constitutes the major tread groove. CVSA said in a petition to FMCSA that not having a clear definition “leads to confusion for both enforcement and industry. There are several grooves in a tire and not all of them are necessarily major tread grooves.”
  • Updating the Minimum Periodic Inspection Standards to include provisions to inspect anti-lock brake systems, automatic brake adjusters and brake adjustment indicators. These provisions were added to the FMCSRs when ABS were mandated in 1995, but they were not included in the section used as the periodic inspection guide, the Minimum Periodic Inspection Standards.
  • In accordance with the amendment to the “Periodic Inspection” section, FMCSA also wants to remove language regarding a “random roadside inspection program” in the FMCSRs for “Inspector Qualifications.”
  • Deleting an “unnecessary portion” of the Minimum Periodic Inspection Standards that “describes the differences between the out-of-service criteria and FMCSA’s annual inspection.”

FMCSA said it believes the “potential economic impact of these changes is negligible.”

FMCSA is seeking public comment on the proposed amendments to regulations. To comment, search Docket No. FMCSA-2015-0176 at, or click here. The comment period is open through Dec. 7.