January 21, 2013 7:45 AM, EST

Rules on Drug, Alcohol Clearinghouse, E-Logging Near Release, FMCSA Says

By Eric Miller, Staff Reporter

This story appears in the Jan. 21 print edition of Transport Topics.

WASHINGTON — Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration officials said they are planning to release at least five new proposed or final rules in 2013, including a supplemental proposed electronic logging device rule and a proposed drug and alcohol clearinghouse rule by the end of March.

The ELD rule supplements the agency’s February 2011 proposed rule by addressing driver privacy issues raised by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit decision vacating the April 2010 final rule. It will require nearly all interstate trucks to be equipped with logging devices.

The drug and alcohol clearinghouse rule would assist employer hiring practices by creating a central database for verified positive controlled substances and alcohol test results for commercial driver license holders and their refusals to submit to testing.

In a Jan. 15 session of the Transportation Research Board’s annual meeting here, John Drake, FMCSA’s director of governmental affairs, said the agency also had several other proposed or final rules planned:

• A proposed safety fitness determination rule, planned for late this year, that will detail the agency’s plans to use Compliance, Safety, Accountability program data to evaluate if motor carriers are fit to have operating authority.

• A final unified registration system rule that will combine four FMCSA legacy systems to better identify reincarnated carriers is expected in April.

• A medical examiner’s certification integration proposed rule that will require medical examiners to transmit data through FMCSA to state driver-licensing agencies is due in March.

In addition to the 2013 rulemakings, the 2012 transportation funding law, known as MAP-21, requires FMCSA to initiate or complete a total of 29 rulemakings over the next 27 months, Drake said.

Some of those legislative mandates were already in progress before the law was passed, Drake said.

“But if you take everything MAP-21 asks us to do and you put it on top of our existing workload, we will have to do 35 rulemakings in total,” Drake said.

By comparison, the law only requires the Federal Highway Administration to do 12 rulemakings, the Federal Transit Administration to do 12 rulemakings, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration to do seven rulemakings and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to do two new rulemakings, Drake said.

MAP-21 also requires FMCSA to implement 34 programmatic changes and complete 15 reports or studies of various transportation issues.