Regulations and standards related to automated driving and electric trucks are among the top priorities at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) based on details outlined within President Joe Biden’s $6 trillion budget unveiled on Friday.
The approximately $88 billion requested for the Department of Transportation in 2022 is essentially unchanged from the 2021 enacted funding level. Within that amount, $748 million was set aside for FMCSA’s Motor Carrier Safety Operations and Programs account and for Motor Carrier Safety Grants, roughly 10% less than what was enacted in 2021 for the agency’s main safety accounts.
Beyond those two line items, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s budget emphasized “transformational investment” in autonomous trucking, noting that FMCSA will continue to pursue the adoption of Level 2 and 3 Advanced Driver Assistance Systems as well as automated driving systems (ADS).
“FMCSA will continue by developing national uniform standards for interacting with ADS Level 4 and 5 automated commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) during roadside truck inspections, in work zone areas, in situations involving emergency response personnel and with deploying required hazard triangles with disabled automated CMVs.”
For FMCSA, Buttigieg’s and the Biden administration’s push for climate change mitigation measures means ramping up deployment of electric vehicles (EVs), including heavy-duty trucks.
“FMCSA plans to conduct research to support development of future regulations, procedures and guidance to roadside inspectors regarding inspecting EV trucks and responding to EV crashes,” according to the budget proposal. “Future work may build on planned research for autonomous driving system truck inspections and post-crash emergency response.”
It noted that FMCSA continues to conduct environmental assessments for future regulations “to ensure that only the most environmentally compliant and effective CMV regulations and guidance are promulgated.”
Buttigieg also signaled in his proposal that addressing “transportation equity” in commercial trucking could mean more attention paid to small-business truckers.
“FMCSA remains positioned to work with stakeholders to identify regulatory inequities and explore alternatives to support the adoption of short- and long-term solutions. A typical rulemaking can take about two years to complete for cases in which the agency identifies regulatory requirements that have a disproportionate impact on small businesses and socially or economically disadvantaged communities.”
Another target of FMCSA’s 2022 funding strategy will be programs set up to address large truck crashes, whereby, according to the proposal, the agency will:
Work with state partners to implement model minimum uniform crash criteria, vastly improving consistency, quality, and quantity of reported CMV crash data.
Update, for the expeditious exchange of critical roadside inspection data, the technology used by FMCSA and state partners for roadside inspections on large trucks, buses and drivers.
Enhance the current safety measurement system for more comprehensive identification of at-risk carriers.
It also noted that FMCSA will continue to focus on implementing the Training Provider Registry, in support of the Entry Level Driver Training Final Rule, which it affirmed will be fully implemented in FY2022.