Monday, November 7, 2011

Unified Registration System / Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

On Wednesday, October 26, the FMCSA issued a Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking which will have a far reaching effect. Over 5 years ago, Congress directed the FMCSA to obtain evidence of insurance and agents on all carriers subject to its safety jurisdiction. This rulemaking would accomplish that Congressional directive by replacing the OP-1 application for the transportation of regulated commodities and requiring all carriers with DOT numbers to file evidence of insurance and agents. A new application form, MCSA-1, would be used prospectively.

Importantly, this proposed regulation would account, for the first time, for approximately 400,000 regulated carriers with DOT numbers for whom the Agency has no evidence of insurance and agents. In providing its Reg Flex analysis, the Agency opines that the proposed rule would affect “roughly 600,000 small carriers with recent activity annually on an ongoing basis.” (At Fed. Reg. p. 66579.)

To its credit, this rule would result in the accumulation of meaningful data identifying all regulated motor carriers (exempt and private as well as for-hire), and assuring that each has readily identifiable insurers and agents for service of process.

Since the Agency’s new proposed safety fitness determination model, SMS methodology, can only measure and rank 100,000 of the nation’s largest carriers, maybe expanding this proposed new comprehensive registration fee to include a nominal annual registration fee to support a simplified but objective annual safety audit factor is worth considering as a viable alternative to the systemically flawed SMS methodology which has yet to surface in the formal rulemaking process.

The NPRM is available at

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