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U.S. drops labeling rule

OTTAWA, Ont. - In the face of mounting opposition from trucking industry and government organizations on both sides of the border, the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has quie...


OFF THE HOOK: Cross-border truckers have succeeded in their fight against FMCSA's requirement for a truck manufacturer's label.

OFF THE HOOK: Cross-border truckers have succeeded in their fight against FMCSA's requirement for a truck manufacturer's label.


OTTAWA, Ont. – In the face of mounting opposition from trucking industry and government organizations on both sides of the border, the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has quietly withdrawn a proposed rule that would have required all commercial vehicles operating on U.S. highways to bear a manufacturer’s label certifying compliance with U.S. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS).

The controversial rule, first proposed in 2002, had long been opposed by the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA), the American Trucking Associations (ATA), the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), the Canadian government and other organizations.

In its response to the proposed rule more than two years ago, CTA stated that the requirement for an FMVSS label on all vehicles operating into the U.S. would place an impossible burden on Canadian motor carriers, since the vast majority of vehicles in this country carry a Canadian safety certification.

While the U.S. and Canadian safety standards are very similar – a point that was acknowledged by FMCSA in its rulemaking – the proposed rule would nonetheless not have recognized the validity of a Canadian label.

To require all Canadian vehicles operating internationally to be returned to the original manufacturer or importer for retroactive certification of compliance with the U.S. FMVSS would have made the rule, to all intents and purposes, impossible for Canadian carriers to comply with, according to CTA officials.

In addition, CTA pointed out in its submission to FMCSA that the mere presence of a label affixed by the original manufacturer provided no guarantee whatsoever that the vehicle was still in a safe operating condition.

That kind of assurance can only come from an on-road inspection to verify the vehicle’s current mechanical condition.

“It is beyond our comprehension how a point so apparently self-evident could have been overlooked by those who proposed this rule,” said CTA CEO David Bradley.

“Canadian carriers operating into the U.S. know that their vehicles must be in a safe operating condition and be able to meet CVSA inspection standards. For a vehicle that has been on the road for any length of time, a manufacturer’s sticker is largely irrelevant from a safety standpoint. Moreover, compliance with this rule would not only have been difficult, but impossible for the vast majority of Canadian trucking companies.”

There has been no official comment from FMCSA on whether it plans to eventually go ahead with the proposed rule, but the Office of Management and Budget reported Dec. 9, 2004, that the rule was withdrawn.

But according to CTA officials, the matter could come up again when Congress resumes deliberations on multi-year highway funding, as the Senate version of the transportation reauthorization bill also contains wording that would impose a vehicle labeling requirement. n

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