January 11, 2001
The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) today announced two rulemakings to improve the safe operation of small buses and vans that are designed or used commercially to transport between 9 and 15 occupants in interstate commerce.
These rulemaking actions are intended to afford one level of safety for all passengers transported by for-hire motor carriers.
One of these actions, a final rule that becomes effective on Feb. 12, 2001, will enable the Department to collect data needed to assess the operational safety of all for-hire interstate motor carriers of passengers operating small buses and vans. FMCSA issued this rule in response to a provision in the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21).
The other is a notice of proposed rulemaking that would require certain operators of small buses and vans that transport passengers to destinations beyond a radius of 75 miles to comply with the regulations concerning driver qualifications, hours of service, vehicle equipment necessary for safe operation, and inspection, repair and maintenance of vehicles. This rulemaking action is mandated under the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999.
In the final rule, the FMCSA is requiring all for-hire interstate operators of small buses and vans to complete a motor carrier identification report (Form MCS-150) so that the agency can determine the number of these companies currently operating, the number of drivers employed, and vehicles operated. These companies will also be required to mark their vehicles with USDOT identification numbers assigned by the FMCSA and to maintain records concerning crashes involving their vehicles. This rule will enable the department to monitor the safety performance of interstate motor carriers of passengers that operate small buses and vans.
The notice of proposed rulemaking would require for-hire operators of small buses and vans to comply with most of the rules currently applicable to motor coach operators. Drivers of these vehicles would be required to meet the same physical qualifications and hours-of-service rules as motor coach drivers. These vehicles would be required to meet the same safety requirements as motor coaches.
FMCSA's analysis of accident data for 1996-1998 indicates that approximately 63 percent of 146 fatal accidents in which a van was actually transporting 9 or more occupants at the time of the crash involved drivers that may have traveled beyond a radius of 75 miles from their work-reporting location.
Although the agency does not have data to determine which vans were being used in interstate commerce, the agency believes the data are compelling and suggest the need for action to improve the safety of operation of these vehicles. The proposed rulemaking would apply to long-haul, for-hire interstate motor carriers of passengers operating in the United States, including Canadian and Mexican-based carriers.
The notice of proposed rulemaking and final rule are available to the public in the DOT Docket (Docket Numbers FMCSA-2000-7017, FMCSA-1999-5710, respectively). Written comments on the notice of proposed rulemaking should be sent by April 11, 2001 to the USDOT Docket Facility, Attn: Docket No. FMCSA-2000-7017, Room PL-401, 400 Seventh Street, S.W., Washington, DC 20590-0001. The rule also is posted on the Internet and can be viewed after searching at http://dms.dot.gov/. Comments also may be submitted electronically at this site.
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