The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has withdrawn its proposal to mandate states to implement extra annual inspections for vehicles such as school buses and motorcoaches.
The FMCSA originally planned to withdraw the proposed rule in 2017, a year after introducing it. After enactment of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in 2021, the agency was prompted to seek more comments to determine if the proposal should move forward after all.
The National School Transportation Association (NSTA) submitted a response in June outlining concerns about the rule.
“According to feedback received from NSTA state association members, most states already provide thorough inspection programs and standards for school buses,” wrote NSTA Executive Director Curt Macysyn. “Further, during a time where (the) industry continues to experience major labor shortages, NSTA believes that the implantation of additional requirements may serve to further stress an already overburdened system.”
The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) commended the FMCSA for seeking improvements to passenger-carrier safety, but the inspection programs suggested in the proposed rule “would require significant resources.”
“In addition, it should be noted that not all jurisdictions will have the authority to implement a program without being granted additional spending authority from state legislatures for personnel and capital expenses,” wrote Collin B. Mooney, CVSA executive director.
The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) also expressed appreciation for vehicle safety advocacy, but cited:
- Concerns about unfunded mandates due to state budget constraints.
- The expanded definition of qualified vehicles, including school buses, motorcoaches, mini-buses, 9-15 passenger vans, or other.
- Lack of clarity about who would perform the inspections.
In comments signed by Cian Cashin, AAMVA director of government affairs, the association found that “the expansion of this program prior to concrete inspection criteria and specific direction on how states to respond to non-compliance with inspections is premature.” The association encouraged FMCSA to “focus on updating the baseline periodic inspection requirements for the existing vehicles subject to federal inspection requirements” and urged the agency to consider the CVSA’s the proposed rule.
“Many commenters indicated that the existing standards for annual inspections prescribed in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, or their own programs, were sufficient,” according to the FMCSA report published in the Federal Register. “Commenters also indicated that current standards are effective at mitigating risk when properly enforced.”
After considering these comments, the FMCSA opted to hold with its decision to withdraw the proposal.