The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) today delayed active enforcement of new motor carrier safety rules for private commercial motor vehicles with a gross vehicle weight between 10,001 and 26,000 pounds in intrastate commerce. Safety violations cited against these motor carriers and drivers will not be assessed a civil forfeiture until Jan. 1, 2012.
The Commission found that the transportation community affected by these new safety regulations is unprepared for active enforcement. The next year will serve as a transitional period for drivers and owners. As these vehicles are stopped for roadside inspections, state motor carrier enforcement personnel will advise the driver or carrier of the violations and use the inspection as an opportunity to educate the driver on the new requirements. Enforcement will be taken only in cases where egregious violations of the safety regulations are discovered or if the vehicle cannot be safety moved a reasonable distance to resolve the safety violation.
"Safety on Ohio's roadways is our top priority as evidenced by federal recognition of our motor carrier safety program as one of the most comprehensive and effective programs," PUCO Chairman Alan R. Schriber stated. "That recognition is a testament to our ability to work with drivers and motor carriers to ensure a thorough understanding of state and federal safety rules. As such, I believe that this transition period will enable us to address the concerns of the parties and continue our education and outreach programs, ensuring that motor carriers can smoothly transition and comply with these safety rules."
The PUCO will establish a process that will allow further comment by interested parties on the rules. The Commission will consider reasonable and appropriate revisions to the rules that seek to simplify the provisions, address applicability, and provide a way of mitigating financial burdens relating to compliance. Revisions will only be considered in the context of not compromising the safety goals of the rules.
The PUCO will keep parties informed on these rules with updates on the PUCO Web site and through an email list service. Interested parties may subscribe to the PUCO's transportation email list serve a www.PUCO.ohio.gov/PUCO/docketing by clicking on Industry Listserve Sign Up.
On March 5, 2008, the Commission approved amendments to Ohio's motor carrier safety rules that subjected private commercial motor vehicles with a gross vehicle weight between 10,001 and 26,000 pounds transporting property or passengers on a not-for-hire basis within Ohio to the PUCO's safety jurisdiction. This rule change will ensure Ohio's motor carrier rules are consistent with federal regulations and will increase safety on Ohio's roadways.
The rule change also ensures that the state of Ohio continues to receive federal grant money for the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program. This federal grant program provides financial assistance to states to enforce the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations and the Federal Hazardous Materials Regulations in an effort to reduce the number and severity of commercial motor vehicle accidents. In order to receive these funds, Ohio's safety rules must mirror federal rules,
On Oct. 19, 2010, the PUCO held a technical conference to discuss the rules with interested parties. Topics of discussion included the time needed for education and outreach prior to active enforcement and the ways in which the PUCO could assist with rule compliance.
A copy of today's Commission entry is available at www.PUCO.ohio.gov. Click on the link to DIS and enterthe case number 09-223-TR-ORD. Additional information on the new safety rules is available in the motor carrier section of the PUCO Web site.