It's Raining Proposals

Recently, various federal agencies have published a number of proposed regulations that could impact the solid waste industry.

On Jan. 18, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a proposal to require electronic onboard recorders (EOBRs) to monitor compliance with hours of service (HOS) requirements. Under the proposal:

  • Motor carriers with a history of “serious non-compliance” with hours of services rules would have to install EOBRs. Serious non-compliance occurs when 10 percent or more of drivers' logs examined by FMCSA during a compliance review are found to be out of compliance with hours of service rules. Such a finding must occur on two successive reviews.

  • FMCSA would create new performance standards for EOBRs.

  • Carriers would receive incentives to voluntarily install EOBRs.

  • The requirements would apply to trucks operating within the 100-air-mile rule.

Two years ago, FMCSA asked for public comment about the need for EOBRs to monitor hours of service compliance. NSWMA requested an exemption for our industry if FMCSA intended to mandate EOBRs.

NSWMA was not the only industry to request an exemption for local routes. In response to all these requests, FMCSA said it is “focusing first on motor carriers with significant HOS compliance problems,” but the agency did not specifically exempt local routes.

The FMCSA, along with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), also is seeking comments on a petition to require speed governors on all commercial motor vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of more than 26,000 pounds. The speed governors would limit these vehicles to speeds of no more than 68 miles per hour.

The American Trucking Association and Road Safe America, a coalition of nine motor carriers, each filed separate petitions for a rulemaking on this subject. Both petitions focused on the impact of speed and road safety. FMCSA and NHTSA responded with data from the 1991 Report to Congress on Commercial Motor Vehicle Speed Control Devices and the most recent large truck crash data (2005). The 1991 study concluded that any safety benefits resulting from speed governor requirements were not sufficient to justify mandating the devices. The 2005 truck crash data shows that large (greater than 10,000 pound GVWR) trucks accounted for 8 percent of all fatal accidents and 4 percent of injury and property damage-only accidents.

The biggest issue is how speed governors would affect garbage and recycling trucks. Does the added cost justify any potential safety benefits? Do residential garbage and recycling collection trucks normally exceed 68 MPH when empty or full? Do trucks hauling commercial or construction and demolition debris containers normally exceed 68 MPH when empty or full?

In other news, on Jan. 24, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a proposed rule that, if finalized, would require onboard diagnostic (OBD) systems on trucks. Waste Age readers will recall that in 2001, EPA finalized new rules requiring advanced emission control systems on highway heavy-duty diesel engines, called the Clean Diesel Trucks and Buses Program. This new proposal would require that these advanced emission control systems be monitored using an OBD system similar to the ones that exist on passenger cars, i.e., the engine light that appears on the dashboard.

For trucks, manufacturers would be required to install OBD systems that monitor the functioning of emission controls and alert truck operators that repairs are needed. The proposed rule also would require manufacturers to provide service and repair operations with the necessary information to fix OBD systems and other emission-related engine components.

In addition, the proposed rule asks for comments on whether to apply OBD requirements to non-road, land-based equipment, such as landfill equipment, in future rulemaking.

Chaz Miller is director of state programs, and Alice Jacobsohn is director of public affairs and education at the National Solid Wastes Management Association. E-mail the authors at and