February 23, 2016 10:30 AM, EST

FMCSA Exemptions Giving Inspectors Headaches, CVSA Says

The increasing number of regulatory exemptions being approved by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is causing “confusion and inconsistency” in enforcement by roadside inspectors, according to the head of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance.    

“While CVSA does not object to these exemptions on an individual basis, exemptions complicate the enforcement process, causing confusion and inconsistency in enforcement, which undermines the very foundation of the federal commercial motor vehicle enforcement program uniformity,” CVSA Executive Director Collin Mooney said in a Feb. 18 letter to FMCSA acting Administrator Scott Darling.

Mooney said that in the past year more than 20 exemption applications and renewal requests have been granted by the agency.

“Some of the final rules exempt vehicle equipment, such as mounting of video devices to windshields and the transportation of metal coils,” Mooney said. “There also have been several driver exemptions, including records of duty status exemptions and exempting certain drivers from the requirement to obtain a commercial driver license.”

The large number of exemptions also puts an undue training burden on agencies “that must be diligent in informing all inspectors of the new exemptions and ensuring they understand and apply the exemptions properly,” Mooney said.

With so many exemptions, it is possible that roadside inspectors will no longer accurately enforce the regulations or may stop enforcing certain regulations altogether, he added.

“If a roadside inspector is in doubt whether an exemption is applicable to a current roadside situation, that inspector is more apt to skip citing the potential violation, thus reducing the effectiveness and safety benefit of the regulations,” Mooney said.

He encouraged the agency to invite its state and local partners involved with the vast majority of roadside inspections and enforcement to the table when working on new or updated regulations and exemptions. “FMCSA should not overlook the experience of their state and local partners,” Mooney said.

FMCSA spokesman Duane DeBruyne said the letter was under review.