Weekly Legislative Update January 24, 2022

TIA Comments to FMCSA on Apprenticeship Pilot Program

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has been working to implement the DRIVE Safe pilot program (section 23022 of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act) within the statutory timeframe.

On January 7, 2022, the Agency published a Federal Register notice with a new Information Collection Request (ICR) for emergency OMB approval, with a 5-day comment period.

While we’re encouraged by FMCSA’s movement of the pilot program, we have concerns with requirements in the ICR that will create unnecessary administrative burdens and may cause members not to participate in the program—specifically, the following requirements (see attached ICR), which are not in statute:

·     “All motor carriers who are approved for the program by FMCSA will also be required to become Registered Apprenticeships (RAs) under 29 CFR part 29 before they can submit information on their experienced drivers and apprentices.”

·     “Additional data will include crash data (incident reports, police reports, insurance reports), inspection data, citation data, safety event data (as recorded by all safety systems installed on vehicles, to include advanced driver assistance systems, automatic emergency braking systems, onboard monitoring systems, and forward-facing and in-cab video systems) as well as exposure data (record of duty status logs, on-duty time, driving time, and time spent away from home terminal). This data will be submitted monthly through participating motor carriers.”

As such, TIA submitted the comments below with the DRIVE Safe Coalition.

 

By Electronic Submission

Mr. Thomas Keene

Associate Administrator, Office of Research and Registration

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE

Washington, D.C. 20590-0001

RE:   Docket No. FMCSA-2022-0002; Agency Information Collection Activities; Emergency Approval of a New Information Collection Request: Apprenticeship Pilot Program

The undersigned organizations strongly support the apprenticeship pilot program contained in section 23022 of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), and we appreciate the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) efforts to implement the program in a timely manner. However, we have concerns with requirements submitted by FMCSA to the Office of Management and Budget in its emergency information collection request (ICR) that we believe create unnecessary administrative burdens and may inhibit participation in the program by stakeholders of various sizes.

If implemented as contemplated by the statute, this program will enhance transportation safety, enable young Americans to pursue a rewarding career in the trucking industry, and build a pipeline of qualified and highly trained trucking professionals. The robust training regimen established by this pilot program goes far beyond what is currently required for 18- to 20-year-old intrastate drivers in 49 states and the District of Columbia, laying the groundwork for significant safety improvements on our nation’s roads and bridges. The participants in the pilot program will become a proficient and safety-focused workforce moving products and supplies throughout our nation. Therefore, we understand the need to collect certain information about pilot program participants, as specified in statute, in order to ensure the completion of training requirements and the satisfaction of performance benchmarks.

In order not to discourage robust participation in the pilot program, FMCSA should implement requirements that mirror the statutory provisions, which received broad bipartisan congressional support and the endorsement of the undersigned organizations, and not raise additional barriers. We believe the proposal will be improved significantly by:

1.   Removing the registered apprenticeship requirement, and

2.   Reducing the amount of monthly data employers must provide to FMCSA.

Importantly, without these changes, there is a very real possibility that overall subscription to the program may be delayed or reduced due to the costs and burdens associated. 

Accordingly, we submit the following comments.

1.   The requirement for joining the U.S. Department of Labor’s registered apprenticeship program is not necessary and is an added requirement not contemplated by the statutory text.

While organizations may support – and participate in – registered apprenticeships, this provision should be voluntary. Many employers may not want to create a registered apprenticeship program. It is unnecessary to the program and will likely reduce participation. FMCSA does not explain how the two programs are appropriately linked in the ICR, and we expect additional notice and comment may be necessary to implement this requirement (thereby likely further delaying implementation of the program). 

Moreover, the burdens associated with creating and operating a registered apprenticeship program are not insubstantial and should be appropriately reflected in the burden estimate for this ICR. Since it is exercising discretion in making this a requirement, FMCSA should drop the requirement and provide the option to become a registered apprenticeship.

2.   The requirement for “additional data” to be submitted monthly to FMCSA should be limited to include only those elements that are essential in evaluating the safety impact of commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers under the age of 21 operating in interstate commerce.  

The requested data elements should be narrow, focused, and clear so that participating employers are not burdened by the requested information. As such, we offer the following comments regarding the “additional data” elements requested in this ICR:

·        Crash Data (incident reports, police reports, insurance reports): We believe crash reports will be crucial in analyzing the safety impact of CMV drivers under the age of 21 operating in interstate commerce. Crash data should include all DOT accidents as well as any non-DOT recordable crashes documented by the employer through their normal course of business. However, and of significance, to ensure the accuracy of results of this apprenticeship pilot program, all crash data should include detailed information so that the Agency can make accurate assessments as to the preventability of each crash. For instance, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) do not define preventability with regard to crashes or accidents, as defined by 49 CFR § 390.5. As such, the reporting of all crashes without consideration of preventability could render inaccurate data when using crash data to analyze the safety of under 21 year old drivers. Considering the Agency’s own estimates conclude that 70% of CMV crashes are the fault of the passenger vehicle driver, an under 21 year old driver could be involved in a crash, through no fault or error of their own, and be inaccurately classified as unsafe.

·        Inspection data: Similar to the preventability concerns, inspection data submitted by the participating employer should be limited to inspections with violations attributed to the driver.

·        Citation data: We agree that citations attributed to the driver should be submitted by the participating employer, but they should be limited to moving violations. We do not believe parking tickets, for example, are generally relevant to FMCSA’s safety responsibilities.

·        Safety event data (as recorded by all safety systems installed on vehicles, to include advanced driver assistance systems, automatic emergency braking systems, onboard monitoring systems, and forward-facing and in-cab video systems): We believe that certain safety event data will be useful in determining the safety of under 21 year old drivers operating in interstate commerce; however, the term “safety event data” as discussed in this ICR is broad and should be narrowed so that only relevant safety event data is submitted by the participating employer. For instance, the ICR does not define exactly what data from safety systems installed on vehicles should be submitted. It would be impractical, and an undue burden, for participating employers to submit all video system data to the Agency for each driver participating in this program. Likewise, Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) can be complex in the event data they record. An ADAS that detects an “event” as a result of the driver operating over a rough road would not be relevant to this program, as compared to ADAS “events” that capture a hard brake or collision. The Agency should narrowly define the scope of the requested data elements to avoid unnecessary burdens and, more importantly, add to the relevance of the data submitted as part of this program.

Exposure data (record of duty status logs, on-duty time, driving time, and time spent away from home terminal): While we believe that it is crucial the Agency has data to support that drivers operating under this program are driving on a regular basis (as compared to merely operating a CMV a few times per week or month), we caution the Agency in the broad scope of this request. To generate a robust and meaningful statistical analysis, the Agency should be clear about collecting data that narrowly defines terminology to improve the accuracy of the data collection and ease of participant data reporting. Particularly, with regard to Record of Duty Status (RODS), the Agency should request RODS from participating employers limited in scope to the 6-month record retention timeframe required by the FMCSRs.

3.   Conclusion

The undersigned organizations enthusiastically support FMCSA’s plans to expand economic opportunity for younger licensed professional drivers while improving safety on our nation’s roads. Allowing younger commercial drivers to operate across state lines and transport interstate freight if they meet heightened training and safety equipment requirements will provide a real opportunity to address current and future truck driver shortages. We thank FMCSA for its consideration of these comments and look forward to working with you to ensure the pilot program’s success.

Respectfully submitted,

Tire Industry Association & the DRIVE Safe Coalition & other trade associations