49 U.S.C. § 31315 - Waivers, exemptions, and pilot programs

Cite as49 U.S.C. § 31315

(a) WAIVERS.-The Secretary may grant a waiver that relieves a person from compliance in whole or in part with a regulation issued under this chapter or section 31136 if the Secretary determines that it is in the public interest to grant the waiver and that the waiver is likely to achieve a level of safety that is equivalent to, or greater than, the level of safety that would be obtained in the absence of the waiver-

(1) for a period not in excess of 3 months;

(2) limited in scope and circumstances;

(3) for nonemergency and unique events; and

(4) subject to such conditions as the Secretary may impose.

(b) EXEMPTIONS.-

(1) IN GENERAL.-Upon receipt of a request pursuant to this subsection, the Secretary of Transportation may grant to a person or class of persons an exemption from a regulation prescribed under this chapter or section 31136 if the Secretary finds such exemption would likely achieve a level of safety that is equivalent to, or greater than, the level that would be achieved absent such exemption.

(2) LENGTH OF EXEMPTION AND RENEWAL.-An exemption may be granted under paragraph (1) for no longer than 5 years and may be renewed, upon request, for subsequent 5-year periods if the Secretary continues to make the finding under paragraph (1).

(3) OPPORTUNITY FOR RESUBMISSION.-If the Secretary denies an application under paragraph (1) and the applicant can reasonably address the reason for the denial, the Secretary may allow the applicant to resubmit the application.

(4) AUTHORITY TO REVOKE EXEMPTION.-The Secretary shall immediately revoke an exemption if-

(A) the person fails to comply with the terms and conditions of such exemption;

(B) the exemption has resulted in a lower level of safety than was maintained before the exemption was granted; or

(C) continuation of the exemption would not be consistent with the goals and objectives of this chapter or section 31136, as the case may be.

(5) REQUESTS FOR EXEMPTION.-Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this section and after notice and an opportunity for public comment, the Secretary shall specify by regulation the procedures by which a person may request an exemption. Such regulations shall, at a minimum, require the person to provide the following information for each exemption request:

(A) The provisions from which the person requests exemption.

(B) The time period during which the requested exemption would apply.

(C) An analysis of the safety impacts the requested exemption may cause.

(D) The specific countermeasures the person would undertake to ensure an equivalent or greater level of safety than would be achieved absent the requested exemption.

(6) NOTICE AND COMMENT.-

(A) UPON RECEIPT OF A REQUEST.-Upon receipt of an exemption request, the Secretary shall publish in the Federal Register (or, in the case of a request for an exemption from the physical qualification standards for commercial motor vehicle drivers, post on a web site established by the Secretary to implement the requirements of section 31149) a notice explaining the request that has been filed and shall give the public an opportunity to inspect the safety analysis and any other relevant information known to the Secretary and to comment on the request. This subparagraph does not require the release of information protected by law from public disclosure.

(B) UPON GRANTING A REQUEST.-Upon granting a request and before the effective date of the exemption, the Secretary shall publish in the Federal Register (or, in the case of an exemption from the physical qualification standards for commercial motor vehicle drivers, post on a web site established by the Secretary to implement the requirements of section 31149) the name of the person granted the exemption, the provisions from which the person is exempt, the effective period, and the terms and conditions of the exemption.

(C) AFTER DENYING A REQUEST.-After denying a request for exemption, the Secretary shall publish in the Federal Register (or, in the case of a request for an exemption from the physical qualification standards for commercial motor vehicle drivers, post on a web site established by the Secretary to implement the requirements of section 31149) the name of the person denied the exemption and the reasons for such denial. The Secretary may meet the requirement of this subparagraph by periodically publishing in the Federal Register the names of persons denied exemptions and the reasons for such denials.

(7) APPLICATIONS TO BE DEALT WITH PROMPTLY.-The Secretary shall grant or deny an exemption request after a thorough review of its safety implications, but in no case later than 180 days after the filing date of such request.

(8) TERMS AND CONDITIONS.-The Secretary shall establish terms and conditions for each exemption to ensure that it will likely achieve a level of safety that is equivalent to, or greater than, the level that would be achieved absent such exemption. The Secretary shall monitor the implementation of the exemption to ensure compliance with its terms and conditions.

(9) NOTIFICATION OF STATE COMPLIANCE AND ENFORCEMENT PERSONNEL.-Before the effective date of an exemption, the Secretary shall notify a State safety compliance and enforcement agency, and require the agency to notify the State's roadside inspectors, that a person will be operating pursuant to an exemption and the terms and conditions that apply to the exemption.

(c) PILOT PROGRAMS.-

(1) IN GENERAL.-The Secretary may conduct pilot programs to evaluate alternatives to regulations relating to, or innovative approaches to, motor carrier, commercial motor vehicle, and driver safety. Such pilot programs may include exemptions from a regulation prescribed under this chapter or section 31136 if the pilot program contains, at a minimum, the elements described in paragraph (2). The Secretary shall publish a detailed description of each pilot program, including the exemptions to be considered, and provide notice and an opportunity for public comment before the effective date of the program.

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