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HOS, CSA, infrastructure funding in congressional oversight plan

The oversight plan notes that the trucking industry has raised concerns that the proposed HOS changes scheduled to go into effect July 1 are “overly complex, potentially reducing productivity."

By LYNDON FINNEY
The Trucker Staff

1/24/2013

WASHINGTON — Not surprisingly, Hours of Service and Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA), infrastructure funding and MAP-21 implementation appear on the House Highways and Transit Subcommittee’s oversight plan for the 113th Congress.

The plan was released Wednesday as part of the overarching oversight plans for the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee of which the subcommittee is a part.

Subcommittee assignments were also announced Wednesday.

The oversight plan notes that the trucking industry has raised concerns that the proposed HOS changes scheduled to go into effect July 1 are “overly complex, potentially reducing productivity. Law enforcement personnel have questioned whether the rules will require additional training for effective enforcement.”

Of particular interest to the trucking industry is the new 34-hour restart provision, which limits the use of the restart to once every 168 hours and requires two 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. periods.

MAP-21, the current surface transportation legislation passed last July, requires the FMCSA to study the restart provision.

The subcommittee said it would maintain close oversight of the rulemaking process to ensure the process furthers FMCSA’s primary mission of safety, “while ensuring the efficient movement of freight throughout the U.S. economy.”

The oversight plan notes than during the 112th Congress, the subcommittee held a hearing on the effectiveness of the CSA program and the impacts on truck and bus companies.

As a result of the hearing, the subcommittee requested an audit of the program by the DOT’s Inspector General.

The audit is now under way, the OIG’s office announced this month.

“The requested date for completion of the audit is late 2013 and the subcommittee will continue to monitor developments with the CSA program,” the plan said.

The American Trucking Associations has called for substantive changes in CSA, particularly in the areas of crash accountability and crash risk.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration last month implemented 11 new improvements to its Safety Measurement System (SMS), which is one of the key elements of CSA (read more here.)

The changes, developed over several months with feedback from the public and stakeholders throughout the industry, will enhance the agency’s ability to identify and take action against trucks and buses with safety and compliance concerns, according to FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro.

Days later, the ATA issued a white paper saying it had demonstrated how CSA lacks sufficient data on the majority of the industry to render meaningful scores for most motor carriers. (Read The Trucker news story here.)

The ATA said FMCSA noted it has sufficient violation data to assess 40 percent of active carriers in at least one category but only enough to “assign a percentile rank or score” in at least one category to 12 percent of active carriers.

The plan says the subcommittee will continue to evaluate and determine the role innovative financing tools and private investment may play in financing transportation projects and the factors that should be considered in making such determinations.

The subcommittee promised to monitor how the Department of Transportation is implementing tolling provisions in MAP-21 and how states use the expanded tolling authority granted by MAP-21 and determine whether further changes are warranted.

The subcommittee said it wanted to ensure that the provision in MAP-21 designed to streamline road project delivery is followed.

“Time delays and inefficiencies in project delivery not only postpone needed improvements in our nation’s transportation infrastructure, but often result in increases in the cost of projects,” the oversight plan said.

Most significantly, the plan said, are the MAP-21 provisions that require all environmental reviews for a project to be completed within four years and allow federal agencies to carry out obligations for a project concurrently with environmental reviews.

To read the full oversight plan, click here.

To see a list of subcommittee members, click here.

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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