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FMCSA, NHTSA set dates for major rulemakings

Proposals on autonomous trucking, broker surety bonds scheduled for late 2022

DOT updated its schedule for a proposed rules affecting trucking. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Federal regulators have announced when the trucking industry can expect to see several highly anticipated rulemakings, including proposals on autonomous driving systems, broker financial responsibility and greenhouse gas standards.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to integrate onto the nation’s roadways trucks that are equipped with automated driving systems (ADS) is scheduled for Nov. 23, according to a final draft of the latest “Significant Rulemaking Report” published by the U.S. Department of Transportation on Thursday.

“The proposed changes to the CMV [commercial motor vehicle] operations, inspection, repair, and maintenance regulations prioritize safety and security, promote innovation, foster a consistent regulatory approach to ADS-equipped CMVs, and recognize the difference between human operators and ADS,” the abstract states.

On Dec. 15, FMCSA plans to issue an NPRM on broker and freight forwarder financial responsibility that would potentially clamp down on illegal broker practices. The agency considered issuing a rulemaking in June 2020 when allegations of broker fraud were on the rise, but nothing was formally proposed.

During an advanced notice comment period in 2018, the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association emphasized that the most important aspect of the rulemaking was a statutory requirement that FMCSA suspend a broker’s registration if the broker’s available financial security falls below the currently required $75,000.

OOIDA provided FMCSA with examples of brokers who allegedly stole trucking services “in an aggregate value that far [exceeded] the amount of the bond.”

Also scheduled for later in the year, on Sept. 30, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration plans to issue a proposed rule that “addresses coordination between NHTSA and the Environmental Protection Agency related to fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards for medium and heavy-duty engines and vehicles.”

That regulation and plans announced by EPA this week to propose rules addressing nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from trucks are being closely watched by OEMs that are adjusting future cost estimates to comply with federal zero-emission policy goals.

DOT’s latest rulemaking report also updates a previously reported FMCSA schedule on an advanced rulemaking regarding carrier safety fitness procedures (originally scheduled for March, now pushed back to May 24), and NHTSA’s proposed rulemaking on automatic emergency braking for heavy trucks, now scheduled for April 30.

DOT listed other significant rulemakings being considered by regulators but with a “next action undetermined” notation. Those include:

Watch: FMCSA’s Hutcheson discusses driver, safety priorities for 2022

Heavy Vehicle Speed Limiters — Joint NHTSA and FMCSA rulemaking responding to petitions from American Trucking Associations and Roadsafe America to require the installation of speed-limiting devices on heavy vehicles.

Mexico-Domiciled Motor Carriers — Rulemaking to change FMCSA regulations to govern applications by Mexican carriers to operate beyond municipalities and commercial zones at the United States-Mexico border. A separate but related rule would implement a safety monitoring system and compliance initiative to evaluate safety fitness of all Mexico-domiciled carriers within 18 months after receiving a provisional Certificate of Registration or provisional authority to operate in the United States. 

Application for Employment — FMCSA is considering changes to the requirement to have prospective drivers complete an employment application. The agency will also seek comment on ways the requirement for an employment application could be changed to reduce associated paperwork burdens for drivers and motor carriers, including eliminating the requirement altogether.

Hours of Service, Ag Commodities — An interim final rule that clarifies the definition of the terms “any agricultural commodity,” “livestock,” and “non-processed food,” as the terms are used in the definition of “agricultural commodity” for the purposes of the agency’s HOS regulations, including the exemption from the short-haul (150 air miles) and 30-minute rest break requirements.

Extension of Face Mask Rule — FMCSA requires for-hire and private carriers to comply with emergency orders, directives or standards to protect public health and safety issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Transportation Security Administration, or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to the extent the orders, directives or standards are applicable. 

Click for more FreightWaves articles by John Gallagher.


  1. Sandra Coulter

    No, to speed limiters and accident prevention gadgets that beep, buzz, Bing, ding and make noise or automatically control the speed or movement of a truck. Drivers need complete control of their vehicles to maneuver in tough situations and in major cities that have daily backed up traffic jams. Construction zones in many states require vehicles to use shoulders thus creating a noise nightmare inside the vehicle distracting and stressing a driver as we straddle or cross the lane markings to accommodate the Construction set up. We have existing laws and rules and posted speeds on every street, roadway, highway, interstate let’s start enforcement of what we have instead of adding cost and technology gadgets to vehicles. Not to mention the added hatred drivers will express in unsavory ways, increasing road rage and accidents the technology is designed to prevent.
    Instead of regulating trucks and drivers why don’t we work on regulating shippers and receivers. With loads being loaded better, safer, clarity of Bills of Lading, shipping papers, correct weights, loading diagrams, weight of each item or pallet, pallet location, better securement devices, actual and ample space for staging, docking, entrance and exit space procedures, drop trailer lots with proper spacing for safely dropping and hooking procedures. Space to do proper pretrip and post trip procedures, ample and sufficient lighting for security and safety. Ground terrain that supports the weight, size and safety of dropping loaded trailers.
    Let’s address parking for overnight and sleeper berth periods, lack of safe truckstops, lack of sanitary conditions at shippers and receivers, with Porta pottys and no hand washing stations, lack of hot water to wash hands when facilities are provided. Lack of safe spacing in truckstops for safe parking. Double, triple parking in no parking zones, companies insisting drivers parking on streets that cities and municipalities have posted as no parking zones. Why are shippers and receivers allowed to conduct business in zones or areas that can barely support, or provide safe maneuvering space for semi-trucks. Why does law enforcement excuse the rules and laws already on the books and allow these businesses to continue in unsafe conditions.

  2. Renay Kristapher

    I agree that the accident prevention is bull$hyte! It has many dangerous aspects that the powers that be have absolutely NO clue or understanding of. Not to mention the added stress level to the drivers that must deal with the noise and other BS factors none has bothered to address. Another made up statistical move by FMCSA. And speed limiters are just as dangerous and stressful. It is beyond me how peoplevwith NO REAL experience in this industry are continually allowed t I undermine the very safety they were originated to improve!

  3. Randall North

    Any auto braking over 10mph needs an off switch. It’s a great option if your “pontooning” for long distances, but until they can stop cars from passing on the right, WHICH WILL NEVER HAPPEN, auto-braking at speed is bullsh!t. Why can’t they see this? Has no one explained this to “them”? If we can’t move right, and cars can, how the hell are we supposed to KEEP RIGHT? Moving right in traffic is hardest thing to learn. They’re making it 10 times harder. We’ve been blocking four wheelers for 80 years just fine. It ain’t broke…don’t fix it. We know how to back off and recreate a space cushion. COME ON OVER! I can back off rather than let a line dip sh!ts start passing on the right. Add speed limiters and we might as well just all stay in the left lane.

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John Gallagher

Based in Washington, D.C., John specializes in regulation and legislation affecting all sectors of freight transportation. He has covered rail, trucking and maritime issues since 1993 for a variety of publications based in the U.S. and the U.K. John began business reporting in 1993 at Broadcasting & Cable Magazine. He graduated from Florida State University majoring in English and business.