[Federal Register: September 28, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 189)]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains notices to the public of
the proposed issuance of rules and regulations. The purpose of these
notices is to give interested persons an opportunity to participate in
the rule making prior to the adoption of the final rules.
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
Federal Highway Administration
23 CFR Part 657
[FHWA Docket No. FHWA-97-2219; 93-28]
RIN 2125 -AC60
Certification of Size And Weight Enforcement
AGENCY: Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), DOT.
ACTION: Supplemental advance notice of proposed rulemaking (SANPRM);
request for comments.
SUMMARY: The FHWA is considering changes in Federal regulations
affecting State certification of commercial motor vehicle size and
weight enforcement. Public comment is requested on the type of
information and data that States should be required to submit to the
FHWA in support of their annual certification of size and weight
enforcement. This can include, but is not limited to: Specific relevant
data elements; program approaches that may affect detection and
assessment of vehicle weight violations; and the technologies and
logistics of data collection. Previous efforts in this area were
suspended by the FHWA as a result of the agency's decision to conduct a
comprehensive study of all aspects of the truck size and weight issue
and the need to devote significant resources to that effort. With the
study nearing completion, the agency is resuming work on revising the
DATES: Comments must be received on or before December 27, 2000.
ADDRESSES: Your signed, written comments must refer to the docket
number appearing at the top of this document and you must submit the
comments to the Docket Clerk, U.S. DOT Dockets, Room PL-401, 400
Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC 20590-0001. All comments received
will be available for examination at the above address between 9 a.m.
and 5 p.m., e.t., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. Those
desiring notification of receipt of comments must include a self-
addressed, stamped envelope or postcard.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Robert Davis, Office of Freight
Management and Operations (202-366-2997), or Mr. Charles Medalen,
Office of the Chief Counsel (202-366-1354), Federal Highway
Administration, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC 20590. Office
hours are from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., e.t., Monday through Friday, except
Internet users may access all comments received by the U.S. DOT
Dockets, Room PL-401, by using the universal resource locator (URL):
It is available 24 hours each day, 365 days each
year. Please follow the instructions online for more information and
An electronic copy of this document may be downloaded, using a
modem and suitable communications software, from the Government
Printing Office's Electronic Bulletin Board Service at (202) 512-1661.
Internet users may reach the Office of the Federal Register's home page
and the Government Printing Office's web page at:
To preserve the Nation's investment in the Interstate Highway
System, in 1956 the Congress established vehicle weight limits for the
Interstate System (23 U.S.C. 127). Beginning in 1975, the Congress
required each State to certify annually that it is enforcing its size
and weight laws (23 U.S.C. 141) as a condition for full receipt of
Federal-aid highway funds. The regulation to implement section 141 is
found at 23 CFR part 657, Certification of Size and Weight Enforcement.
Except for technical corrections necessitated by statutory changes, the
basic content of part 657 has remained unchanged since publication in
Since that time, the motor carrier industry has undergone
substantial change. Concurrently, a need for change in State
enforcement efforts also has been identified. Both the General
Accounting Office (GAO) and the Department's Office of Inspector
General (OIG) have conducted reviews of State operations under the
existing rules and found problems, not only with specific practices in
individual States, but also with the requirements themselves. In
response to the GAO and OIG reports, the Federal Highway Administration
in December 1993 published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking
(ANPRM) under Docket No. 93-28 with a request for comments (58 FR
65830, December 16, 1993), and an extension of comment period (59 FR
11956, March 15, 1994) as the first step in revising and updating the
requirements of part 657. (The FHWA rearranged its docket system to
accord with the electronic system adopted by the Department of
Transportation in 1997. The FHWA Docket No. 93-28 was transferred and
scanned as FHWA Docket No. 1997-2219.)
As the FHWA completed its initial review of the comments received
in response to the ANPRM, then Federal Highway Administrator Rodney
Slater in June 1994 committed the FHWA to a comprehensive review of all
aspects of the truck size and weight issue. Since the agency was then
committed to a comprehensive review of the program, it decided to table
the rulemaking until the comprehensive study could evaluate existing
issues, including size and weight certification. Although the size and
weight study did ask questions about State certification programs, only
a few comments were received on the topic. After consideration, the
FHWA determined that the responses to the comprehensive study that
addressed vehicle weight enforcement were too few in number and
specificity to form a basis for reconsidering current State
certification requirements. With the comprehensive study nearing
completion, therefore, the FHWA is resuming its work to revisit the
certification process and determine if a rulemaking effort on this
topic should be continued.
The 1993 ANPRM contained a discussion of nine problem areas that
had been noted by the GAO, the OIG, or the States as having a negative
effect on certification and enforcement procedures and their
effectiveness at measuring and reporting commercial motor vehicle (CMV)
compliance. These were:
1. The magnitude and location of overweight vehicles are unknown;
2. Operational tolerances at scales are common despite Federal law;
3. Preparation of enforcement plans and certifications is time
4. Not all States are taking advantage of improved data collection
to enhance program management and effectiveness;
5. The amount of pavement wear attributable to vehicles with
special permits is unknown;
6. Permit fee and overweight fine schedules often do not reflect
7. Enforcement plans lack specific, measurable goals;
8. There is inadequate vehicle size and weight enforcement in some
urban areas; and
9. Sanction procedures do not clearly identify some settlement
Under each problem area, several questions were posed to help
respondents focus their comments.
Fifty-three interested parties submitted written comments to the
ANPRM: 33 State departments of transportation, departments of public
safety, and/or State highway patrols; 9 transportation related
associations; 3 commercial motor carriers; 1 safety advocacy group; 1
university engineering department; 1 Federal agency (the U.S.
Department of Commerce's Technology Administration); and 4 others from
private citizens. In response to the questions posed in the 1993 ANPRM,
respondents stated, in summary, that:
As a group, they believed no separate data base was needed
to help them monitor heavy vehicle movements, and that the cost of
developing a separate data base would outweigh any savings in pavement
and bridge costs;
Overall, the format and contents of the State's
enforcement plan should be left largely as they are. Some States stated
that they would expand the data reported as new technology is developed
to help them collect and provide these data. Four States suggested that
the FHWA should outline a core group of enforcement activities and
allow the States to respond to them.
Overwhelmingly, some form of scale tolerances should be
allowed. Only one respondent suggested that none should be permitted.
States were taking advantage of advanced technologies,
largely the result of the Intelligent Transportation Systems'
Commercial Vehicle Operations initiative, to collect and convey size
and weight data. Fifteen States indicated reliance on weigh-in-motion
(WIM) technology, in some manner, for data collection.
A minority of States responding were attempting to track
infrastructure costs resulting from vehicles operating under special
permits. However, none of them had the capability to track movements
undertaken with multiple trip permits.
Fee structures and fines charged by States ranged from
full consideration of infrastructure costs to a nominal fee with no
attempt to reflect effects on the highway system. Respondents noted
that imposition of fees and fines ultimately should remain a State
A separate evaluation of urban enforcement activities was
not needed. Cooperative agreements existed with large cities or
enforcement programs were in place around urban areas that took care of
the concern. Regular communication with, and training of, local
officials on commercial vehicle weight enforcement was on-going.
The objective of this supplemental ANPRM is to update information
like that summarized above, and provide all interested parties the
opportunity to present new ideas, concepts, and information that they
believe the FHWA should consider in revising the certification process.
This will afford States an opportunity to cost-effectively achieve
better compliance with size and weight laws, obtain data that they and
the FHWA may apply to assessing weight compliance, identify existing
technologies to facilitate certification and describe new technologies
that may ultimately apply. The input received in response to this
request will be considered, along with comments provided in response to
the 1993 ANPRM, as the FHWA decides whether to continue the rulemaking
to the NPRM stage.
The FHWA asks that respondents consider the following areas of
concern, as well as any others which they believe are relevant to a
discussion of improving the language, requirements, and effectiveness
of 23 CFR part 657 for State agencies. As in 1993, the agency requests
that respondents structure their comments to respond to the issues
listed below, where appropriate, taking into consideration the
following under each:
1. Data Identification of Problem Areas. Is a data collection
system needed to track truck weight patterns throughout a State? States
in general did not believe that a new system was needed to collect data
on overweight commercial truck travel patterns in their jurisdictions,
although they did not describe how the process was currently handled.
Left unanswered was: should such a system be required? Moreover, is one
feasible? Does one already exist for other purposes that might be
adapted to help satisfy certification requirements? Would one improve
the operation of the State's weight enforcement program?
2. Aspects of Highway Safety involving Commercial Vehicles. The
increasing volume of all traffic, including that of commercial
vehicles, continues to increase the exposure that any single vehicle
has to potential crash involvement. The importance of truck safety has
always been known to the traffic safety enforcement community, but the
issue has now become an increasingly ``high-profile'' item to the
public at large, with the public demanding increased accountability.
Accordingly, highway and truck safety must be considered in every
aspect of highway system operation, including commercial vehicle weight
enforcement. The primary reason for the development of vehicle weight
laws was infrastructure protection. Enforcement of these laws was, and
continues to be, seen as the primary method to obtain full value from
the resources committed to building and maintaining the highway system.
However, the operational safety performance of commercial vehicles is
compromised when those vehicles either exceed legal weight limits, or
are loaded beyond the design capacity of the vehicle. The FHWA
recognizes that at the Federal level, truck safety issues per se are
the direct responsibility of the newly created Federal Motor Carrier
Safety Administration, and that it is not the intention to duplicate in
any way requirements or responsibilities. The question here is whether
the value added to improving commercial vehicle safety by weight
enforcement should be formally acknowledged, and if so, in what manner.
3. Weight Tolerances at Scales or Enforcement Judgment. According
to 23 U.S.C. 127, States may not allow any weight tolerances on the
Interstate System. Thus, by law, States are required to issue a
citation, or take some enforcement action, if a scale reading on the
Interstate is even one pound over the limit. Off the Interstate, States
may provide for ``enforcement tolerances.'' The problem is that State
law or regulation has to prescribe a tolerance in order for it to be
allowed. Often, there is no codification of the practice; yet, it takes
place. Under 23 U.S.C. 141, this can be considered inadequate
enforcement of State size and weight laws.
Despite the requirement for tolerance codification, scale
tolerances are apparently widely used, and respondents to the 1993
ANPRM overwhelmingly supported their usage.
Frequently, the tolerances described were defined as something other
than tolerances per se, usually ``officer discretion.''
In sum, should the practice of allowing scale operational
tolerances be recognized in Federal law to permit State usage on some
systematic basis? What kind (percentage or poundage) and amount of
scale tolerance should be allowed? Or, should scale tolerances be
considered a matter for enforcement officials' judgment at the weighing
site, drawing upon State regulation and enforcement practice?
4. Documenting Pavement Use and Bridge Wear Attributable to
Vehicles with Special Permits. What do we now know about pavement use
and bridge wear associated with vehicles with special permits,
especially permits allowing multiple trips? What can we reasonably
know? What systems now help document usage? What is being done with the
information obtained? What improvements are needed to provide State
officials with timely, representative knowledge about pavement use and
bridge wear due to permitted vehicle operations? Any information
systems that would be considered for implementation to respond to these
questions would at least cover the Interstate System, as current
Federal statute (23 U.S.C. 127) applies only to the Interstate System.
Could such a system be reasonably expanded to distinguish permitted
travel on non-Interstate highway systems such as the non-Interstate
portions of the National Highway System (NHS), or National Network (NN)
(for trucks described in the Surface Transportation Assistance Act of
1982 (STAA), Public Law 97-424, 96 Stat. 2097). Do you believe that
such an expansion would be warranted from a safety standpoint?
5. Permit Fees and Overweight Fines. What is the basis for current
systems of fees and fines? Are they designed to cover highway costs
(including enforcement), simply provide a token fee, or serve as a
deterrent? Do States have any systems to more completely capture, or
more equitably assess, State highway costs? What are your views on the
potential for a system that would monitor vehicle operations for use in
applying the State permit fee and fine structures? If such a system is
considered, what would be the minimum data elements that should be
included? For each incremental increase in vehicle specificity, what
are additional costs and issues that you see affecting implementation?
6. Vehicle Size and Weight Enforcement in Urban Areas. The wording
of 23 U.S.C. 141 requires vehicle size and weight enforcement on the
Federal-aid primary, urban, and secondary systems, including the
Interstate System. The system references in this section were not
amended by Congress when these systems (except for the Interstate) were
eliminated and replaced by the National Highway System (NHS) in the
Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA),
Public Law 102-240, 105 Stat. 1914. When the language of section 141
was enacted (Federal-Aid Highway Amendments of 1974, Public Law 93-643,
88 Stat. 2284), the mileage comprising the urban system, the urban
extensions of the primary and secondary systems, and the urban
Interstate, accounted for a significant proportion of the total street
mileage in many cities. Today, the only designated Federal-aid system,
the NHS, includes a much smaller proportion of the total mileage in
every city. From a system mileage standpoint, Federal interest has
decreased significantly, even though the total mileage on which some
form of Federal-aid funds may be spent by States has remained constant.
The current regulation simply requires that States must identify
any urbanized areas not subject to State enforcement and, for those
areas, must include an analysis of enforcement efforts. Many States
include with their certifications information on urban weight
enforcement discussions of activity that are conducted by city/
municipal police, even though many of these activities probably occur
on local streets that have never been a part of any Federal-aid system.
Is it appropriate to reconsider and or clarify Federal interest in
the extent of urban weight enforcement?
7. Sanction Procedures. Section 657.21 establishes Federal
penalties for State imposition of non-conforming weight limits on the
Interstate system, as well as failure to submit a certification or
enforce its size and weight laws. However, unanswered by current
statute is how the FHWA will determine if inadequate enforcement is
occurring, and how a State may respond to Federal determinations of
Therefore, what are some workable, practical performance measures
or index values that might more objectively define the enforcement
efforts of a State that would reflect the varying State enforcement
philosophies, procedures, and statutory bases? Such a measure or
measures could include items such as effort expended, applicable
mileage, number and type of scales used, as well as the existing
measures of activity (e.g., weighings and penalties). What processes or
procedures would best serve the State in responding to, and working
with the FHWA to resolve, a Federal determination of non-compliance or
non-enforcement? What might be the simplest, most straightforward
system of resolution?
Note: Respondents may wish to refer to Sec. 657.15 for currently
invoked measures of performance as an aid in considering and
developing their own recommendations.
8. Enforcement of LCV Regulations. The ISTEA added a statement to
the annual certification of vehicle size and weight enforcement
specifically covering compliance with the freeze on the operation of
longer combination vehicles (LCVs). Previously, this activity was
covered by the general statement in 23 U.S.C. 141 that ``it is
enforcing all State laws respecting maximum vehicle size and weights.''
In considering possible changes to the measures of size and weight
enforcement activity to be included with a certification, can LCV
enforcement be singled out and reported with its own measure? What are
practical measures the States can propose to quantify this activity?
Note: the ISTEA added State compliance with the freeze on the
operation of longer combination vehicles (LCVs) to the certification
process of 23 U.S.C. 141.
9. Use of Variable Load Suspension (VLS) Axles. Anecdotal evidence
suggests that vehicles equipped with VLS axles may be causing road
damage because the axles are not always used as designed to compensate
for heavier loads. Should VLS axles be specifically mentioned in
Federal regulations to either exclude them from, or conditionally
include their use in, the determination of a commercial motor vehicle's
compliance with the various weight limits, including the bridge
formula? If included, what qualifications would have to be met to
permit these axles' inclusion?
Note: Bigger payload has been one of the reasons for the large
increase in VLS axle usage. Another is load equalization. However,
the axle can often be raised or lowered from inside the cab, so that
the opportunity exists for the axle not to be engaged when the
loaded vehicle is underway. The potential for abuse exists,
therefore, as a disengaged VLS axle could lead to heavy permanent
axle loadings and significant damage to both the roadway and
vehicle. Documentation on individual State treatment of VLS axles
when calculating vehicle axle weight is fragmented.
10. Size and Weight Enforcement Practices and Procedures. Concerns
have been voiced about the lack of uniformity in States' roadside size
and weight enforcement practices, including measurement of length, use
scales, and citing multiple violations on the same vehicle. Should
there be some minimum level of Federal standards established for the
various tasks that make up State size and weight enforcement? Do such
standards already exist that might be incorporated in a State's
enforcement process? Should employee training in various aspects of
size and weight enforcement be a component of State enforcement plans?
11. Role of Technology. What are your views on the role that
Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) technology can have in
monitoring and/or implementing the various aspects of commercial
vehicle size and weight discussed herein. In terms of the existing
highway systems, what would be the minimum data and coverage
requirements necessary to make an ITS-based information system
effective from a public agency standpoint, and useable for motor
carriers and drivers?
Rulemaking Analyses and Notices
All comments received before the close of business on the final day
of the comment period indicated above will be considered and will be
available for examination in the docket at the above address or by
electronic means. Comments received after the closing date will be
filed in the docket and will be considered to the extent practicable.
In addition to late comments, the FHWA will also continue to file
relevant information in the docket that becomes available after the
closing date, and interested persons should continue to examine the
docket for new material.
Executive Order 12866 (Regulatory Planning and Review) and DOT
Regulatory Policies and Procedures
The FHWA has determined that this action is not a significant
regulatory action within the meaning of Executive Order 12866 or
significant within the meaning of U.S. Department of Transportation
regulatory policies and procedures. Due to the preliminary nature of
this document and lack of necessary information on costs, the FHWA is
unable to evaluate the economic impact of potential changes to the
regulatory requirements concerning the certification of size and weight
enforcement. Based on the information received in response to this
notice, the FHWA intends to carefully consider the costs and benefits
associated with various alternative requirements. Comments, information
and data are solicited on the economic impact of the potential changes.
Regulatory Flexibility Act
Due to the preliminary nature of this document and lack of
necessary information on costs, the FHWA is unable to evaluate the
effects of the potential regulatory changes on small entities. Based on
the information received in response to this notice, the FHWA intends,
in compliance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601-612),
to carefully consider the economic impacts of these potential changes
on small entities. The FHWA solicits comments, information and data on
Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995
The FHWA does not anticipate that any rule resulting from this
preliminary action would impose a Federal mandate involving the
expenditure by State, local, and tribal governments, in the aggregate,
or by the private sector, of $100 million or more in any one year. (2
U.S.C. 1531 et seq.)
Executive Order 12988 (Civil Justice Reform)
The FHWA will evaluate any action that may be proposed in response
to comments received here to ensure that such action meets applicable
standards in sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of Executive Order 12988, Civil
Justice Reform, to minimize litigation, eliminate ambiguity, and reduce
Executive Order 13045 (Protection of Children)
The FHWA will evaluate any rule that may be proposed in response to
comments received here under Executive Order 13045, Protection of
Children from Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks. We do not
anticipate that any such rule would be economically significant or
would present an environmental risk to health or safety that may
disproportionately affect children.
Executive Order 12630 (Taking of Private Property)
The FHWA will evaluate any rule that may be proposed in response to
comments received here to ensure that any such rule will not effect a
taking of private property or otherwise have taking implications under
Executive Order 12630, Governmental Actions and Interference with
Constitutionally Protected Property Rights.
Executive Order 13132 (Federalism)
Any action that may be initiated in response to comments received
here will be analyzed in accordance with the principles and criteria
contained in Executive Order 13132 dated August 4, 1999. The FHWA
anticipates that such action would not have a substantial direct effect
or sufficient Federalism implications on States that would limit the
policymaking discretion of the States. Nor do we anticipate that such
action would directly preempt any State law or regulation.
Executive Order 12372 (Intergovernmental Review)
Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Number 20.205
Highway Planning and Construction. The regulations implementing
Executive Order 12372 regarding intergovernmental consultation on
Federal programs and activities apply to this program.
The FHWA does not anticipate that any action initiated in response
to comments received here will add or expand a collection of
information requirement for purposes of the Paperwork Reduction Act of
1995, 44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.
National Environmental Policy Act
The FHWA will analyze any actions that may be initiated in response
to comments received here for the purpose of the National Environmental
Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) in order to assess whether such
action would have any effect on the quality of the environment.
Regulation Identification Number
A regulation identification number (RIN) is assigned to each
regulatory action listed in the Unified Agenda of Federal Regulations.
The Regulatory Information Service Center publishes the Unified Agenda
in April and October of each year. The RIN contained in the heading of
this document can be used to cross reference this section with the
List of Subjects in 23 CFR Part 657
Enforcement plan, Highway and roads, Sanctions, and Vehicle size
and weight certification.
Authority: 23 U.S.C. 127, 141, and 315; 49 CFR 1.48(b).
Dated: September 15, 2000.
Anthony R. Kane,
Federal Highway Executive Director.
[FR Doc. 00-24906 Filed 9-27-00; 8:45 am]
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