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Commercial Vehicle Regulations Expert:
Senate Chimes in on DOT Funding, CSA Score & More!

Truck Safety Expert Witness / Semi Truck Accident Expert Witness Articles

By Scott Greene

On June 9, 2015 the House passed a funding bill for the Department of Transportation. The United States Senate passed theirs on June 25, 2015. Here is a summary and some comparison:

congressional sealU.S. Congressional Seal

The Senate’s bill continues the suspension of the 2013 hours-of-service (HOS) rule, put in place by lawmakers in December 2014. This provision of the bill stays in place so long as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) current study into the 2013 HOS shows that the provisions in the 2013 HOS rule yield no safety benefit.

In addition, the bill requires the FMCSA to publish a Final Rule mandating the use of Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) formerly known as Automatic On Board Recording Devices (AOBRs), Electronic On Board Recorders (EOBRs) or e-logs. According to the bill, the FMCSA would be required to publish a Final Rule mandating use of ELDs within 60 days of the bill’s enactment. The date of the enactment would be the day the president signs the legislation.

In that same 60 day time frame, the FMCSA would be required to publish a proposed rule to mandate speed limiters on heavy trucks.

The Senate also tacked on a provision that requires the FMCSA to “prominently display” a disclaimer regarding the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) percentile rankings. The disclaimer is required to be adjacent to the CSA scores: “warning users that [CSA scores] are not necessarily reliable indicators of relative safety performance,” according to the bill’s text.

The Senate’s Appropriations Committee’s DOT funding bill passed 20-10.

The House’s version of a 2016 DOT spending bill did not include the deadlines for publishing final rules regarding ELDs or Speed Limiters. The House’s bill did, however, continue the suspension of 2013 HOS rules which require a 34-hour hours-of-service restart. The house bill also prevents the FMCSA from increasing the amount of liability insurance required of motor carriers by requiring the agency to cease work on any such increase.

Both bills allow for 33-foot double trailers, an increase in length from the current 28 foot limit.

According to the summary of the bill, the DOT will have $55 billion to spend in fiscal year 2016. This is the same amount that the DOT was budgeted to spending in 2015. Of that $55 Billion, the FMCSA will receive $572 million.

It is likely that the two chambers will have a joint committee session to resolve the differences between their two funding bills.

President Obama earlier in June threatened to veto the House version of the bill. At this point, he has not issued a policy statement on the Senate bill.

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