DG Digest: In a busy week for the agency, PHMSA pre-empts California’s new rule governing driver rest break periods

The FRA re-established the Rail Safety Advisory Committee (RSAC). The committee had been under threat of elimination in the current administration’s proposed budget. A BNSF train hauling crude oil passes Nisqually Junction along the Puget Sound in Washington State on Sunday, September 16th, 2018. Photo © 9/2018 by Nikki Burgess; all rights reserved.



  • Interested in providing the agency with feedback on its service provision to the DG industry here in the U.S.?  Now’s your chance!  PHMSA has announced an information collection aimed at prompting just such data submissions from its clients—that’s us!  If you’ve been waiting to have your say and want to participate, here’s your way in
  • In a move exerting federal primacy, the agency declared pre-emption against a new rule recently imposed by the State of California governing commercial drivers and rest break periods.  The agency intervened to take precedence over the local statute that would have, in PHMSA’s opinion, created potential risks for hazmat in transport by road in the state, especially in reference to the attendance requirement when hauling certain materials.  See all the details here
  • In a third action, the agency enacted an emergency order in the geographic area hit hard by Hurricane Florence.  The EO will allow for the transport of hazmat outside the normal requirements of the 49 CFR within the affected zone.  Such orders are aimed at assisting emergency responders with recovery efforts during which normal hazmat rules and regulations may be difficult or impossible to follow due to damaged infrastructure, etc.  See the EO here
  • Finally the agency is soliciting comments from interested stakeholders on working papers submitted for consideration of the International Civil Aviation Organization Dangerous Goods Panel Working Group (ICAO DGP-WG).The working group meeting will be held in Montreal, Canada, October 1–5, 2018. This is the first of three meetings scheduled for the 2018–2019 biennium.  During this session, the ICAO DGP-WG will consider amendments to the ICAO Technical Instructions, the Supplement to the Technical Instructions and Annex 18 to the Chicago Convention.  Here’s a link to the papers under study.   Please submit comments to PHMSAInternationalStandards@dot.gov by Friday, September 28.


In a very significant change to driver qualification procedures, the agency has instituted a new system whereby Certified Medical Examiners can directly certify potential CMV drivers as medically qualified despite the candidate driver being diagnosed with Diabetes Mellitus, if the illness is being controlled by medication.  This is a change from the current system of each driver having to seek specific permission and qualification from the FMCSA itself, with such notices published in the Federal Register.  See this big new rule change right here:


The Railroad Safety Advisory Committee is being re-chartered and re-established after a period during which its continued existence was called into question by the current administration.  The committee interacts with industry stakeholders to provide FRA with feedback on accident prevention and investigation, safe transport of goods, and all related services.  See the new charter at this link.

Transport Canada

On September 19, 2018 Transport Canada released Protective Direction No. 39 regarding the accelerated phase out of unjacketed CPC 1232 and DOT 111 tank cars in crude oil and condensate service.  It accelerates this timeline for unjacketed CPC 1232 tank cars in crude oil service to November 1, 2018, and DOT 111 and unjacketed CPC 1232 tank cars in condensate service to January 1, 2019. All other provisions relating to the remaining phase-out schedule in the Regulations Amending the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations (TC 117 Tank Cars) published in Canada Gazette Part II in May 2015 remain in effect.  See the order here

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