FMCSA drops new label rule

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WASHINGTON, D.C. The FMCSA has dropped a proposed rule requiring all trucks in the U.S. to bear a manufacturer’s label certifying compliance with U.S. safety standards.

The controversial rule would also apply to Canadian trucks running through the U.S. First proposed in 2002, it has long been opposed by the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA), the American Trucking Associations (ATA), the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), the government of Canada and various other organizations.

In its response to the proposed rule more than two years ago, CTA stated 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 US FMVSS would have made the rule, for all intents and purposes, impossible for Canadian carriers to comply with.

CTA also 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, asserted the association.

“It is beyond our comprehension how a point so apparently self-evident could have been overlooked by those who proposed this rule,” said CTA CEOI 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from FMCSA on its intentions for the proposed rule, but the Office of Management and Budget reported that the rule was “withdrawn by agency,” Dec. 9, 2004.

Even so, 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.

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