U.S. Department of Transportation
Office of Public Affairs
Monday, August 11, 2003
Contact: Andy Beck, 202-366-8810
FMCSA Issues Rule to Improve For-Hire Small Bus and Van Safety
The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) today announced requirements that will improve the safe operation of commercial nine- to 15-passenger vans and small buses in interstate commerce.
"These requirements will help improve safety for occupants of these vehicles, which are known to pose serious safety risks," U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta said. "We are committed to doing everything we can to ensure the safety of those who rely on this group of motor carriers that provides important intercity travel services."
Under the new rule, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) will apply to all businesses operating commercial motor vehicles (CMV) designed or used to transport between nine and 15 passengers (including the driver) in interstate commerce for "direct compensation" when the vehicle is operated beyond a 75-air-mile radius from the location where the driver normally works. Affected motor carriers must comply with the requirements of this rule by Nov. 10, 2003.
Drivers of these vehicles will be required to meet the same physical qualifications and hours-of-service rules as motor coach drivers, except they will not be required by the FMCSA to have a commercial driver's license (CDL) or be tested for controlled substances and alcohol. FMCSA has no authority to establish and enforce the CDL and controlled substances and alcohol testing rules relating to commercial van operations.
Businesses operating these vehicles will be subject to compliance reviews and the same safety fitness procedures and standards used to evaluate other interstate motor carriers. Carriers that receive an "unsatisfactory" safety rating will be prohibited from operating CMVs to transport passengers in interstate commerce. The vehicles will be required to meet the same safety requirements as motor coaches.
The final rule responds to Congressional and public safety concerns about what are commonly referred to as long-haul, for-hire van operations throughout the United States, including vans and buses operated by foreign-based motor carriers into and out of the United States. This rule is required under the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999.
The agency estimates that this rulemaking will affect approximately 1,850 for-hire passenger motor carriers who are currently required to have operating authority.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has twice issued cautionary warnings to users of 15-passenger vans because of an increased rollover risk in these vehicles under certain conditions. The safety agency also unveiled a consumer flyer for users of 15-passenger vans.
NHTSA research has shown that 15-passenger vans have a rollover risk that increases dramatically as the number of occupants increases from fewer than five to more than 10. In fact, 15-passenger vans (with 10 or more occupants) had a rollover rate in single vehicle crashes that is nearly three times the rate of those that were lightly loaded. That is why the USDOT recommends that trained, experienced drivers operate 15-passenger vans, and that all occupants wear seat belts at all times.
This final rule will be placed on display at the Federal Register today and will be available on the Internet at http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov. On Aug. 12, it will be available by searching for docket number FMCSA-2000-7017 at http://dms.dot.gov. Educational and technical assistance on the FMCSRs is available on FMCSA's Web site at www.fmcsa.dot.gov.
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