[Federal Register Volume 83, Number 30 (Tuesday, February 13, 2018)]
[Notices]
[Pages 6306-6307]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2018-02890]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

[Docket No. FMCSA-2015-0238]


Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation; Application 
for an Exemption From TowMate, LLC

AGENCY: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), DOT.

ACTION: Notice of renewal of exemption; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: FMCSA announces its decision to renew for a period of 5 years 
TowMate, LLC's (TowMate's) current exemption allowing motor carriers to 
operate rechargeable wireless temporary stop, turn, and tail lighting 
systems during temporary towing operations. Under the Federal Motor 
Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs), all required lamps, with the 
exception of battery-powered lamps used on projecting loads, must be 
powered by the electrical system of the motor vehicle. The Agency has 
concluded that granting this exemption renewal would not have an 
adverse impact on safety, and that use of rechargeable wireless 
temporary stop, turn, and tail lighting systems during temporary towing 
operations would likely achieve a level of safety equivalent to or 
greater than the level of safety provided by the regulation. However, 
the Agency requests comments and information on the exemption, 
especially from anyone who believes this standard will not be 
maintained.

DATES: This decision takes effect February 9, 2018. Comments must be 
received on or before February 20, 2018.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments bearing the Federal Docket 
Management System (FDMS) Docket ID FMCSA-2015-0238 using any of the 
following methods:
     Website: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the 
instructions for submitting comments on the Federal electronic docket 
site.
     Fax: 1-202-493-2251.
     Mail: Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of 
Transportation, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC 
20590-0001.
     Hand Delivery: Ground Floor, Room W12-140, DOT Building, 
1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. 
e.t., Monday-Friday, except Federal holidays.
    Instructions: All submissions must include the Agency name and 
docket number for this notice. For detailed instructions on submitting 
comments and additional information on the exemption process, see the 
``Public Participation'' heading below. Note that all comments received 
will be posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov, including 
any personal information provided. Please see the ``Privacy Act'' 
heading for further information.
    Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or 
comments received, go to http://www.regulations.gov or to Room W12-140, 
DOT Building, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. 
and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.
    Privacy Act: In accordance with 5 U.S.C. 553(c), DOT solicits 
comments from the public to better inform its rulemaking process. DOT 
posts these comments, without edit, including any personal information 
the commenter provides, to www.regulations.gov, as described in the 
system of records notice (DOT/ALL-14 FDMS), which can be reviewed at 
www.dot.gov/privacy.
    Public participation: The http://www.regulations.gov website is 
generally available 24 hours each day, 365 days each year. You may find 
electronic submission and retrieval help and guidelines under the 
``help'' section of the http://www.regulations.gov website as well as 
the DOT's http://docketsinfo.dot.gov website. If you would like 
notification that we received your comments, please include a self-
addressed, stamped envelope or postcard or print the acknowledgment 
page that appears after submitting comments online.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Amina Dines, Vehicle and Roadside 
Operations Division, Office of Carrier, Driver, and Vehicle Safety, MC-
PSV, (202) 366-2782, [email protected], Federal Motor Carrier Safety 
Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20590-0001.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    FMCSA has authority under 49 U.S.C. 31315 and 31136(e) to grant 
exemptions from certain Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations 
(FMCSRs). This authority is codified in 49 CFR part 381. Under this 
rule, FMCSA must publish a notice of each exemption request in the 
Federal Register (49 CFR 381.315(a)). The Agency must provide the 
public with an opportunity to inspect the information relevant to the 
application, including any safety analyses that have been conducted. 
The Agency must also provide an opportunity for public comment on the 
request.
    The Agency reviews the safety analyses and the public comments and 
determines whether granting the exemption would likely achieve a level 
of safety equivalent to or greater than the level that would be 
achieved by the current regulation (49 CFR 381.305(a)).
    The decision of the Agency must be published in the Federal 
Register (49 CFR 381.315(b)). If the Agency denies the request, it must 
state the reason for doing so. If the decision is to grant the 
exemption, the notice must specify the person or class of persons 
receiving the exemption and the regulatory provision or provisions from 
which an exemption is granted. The notice must specify the effective 
period of the exemption (up to 5 years) and explain the terms and 
conditions of the exemption. The exemption may be renewed (49 CFR 
381.315(c) and 49 CFR 381.300(b)).

TowMate's Application for Exemption

    TowMate applied for an exemption from 49 CFR 393.23 to allow motor 
carriers to operate rechargeable wireless temporary stop, turn, and 
tail lighting systems during temporary towing operations. A copy of the 
application is included in the docket referenced at the beginning of 
this notice.
    Section 393.23, ``Power Supply for Lamps,'' provides that ``All 
required lamps must be powered by the electrical system of the motor 
vehicle with the exception of battery powered lamps used on projecting 
loads.''
    The application stated:

    TowMate is making this request because the use of conventional 
hard wired temporary stop, turn, and tail lights has many drawbacks 
that wireless tow lights solve. These include broken connections, 
frayed wires, burnt out incandescent bulbs, and the potential to be 
snagged or pulled from the tow light receptacle due to improper 
running of wires, and road hazards, along with the safety hazard of 
increasing the amount of time spent on the roadside or the scene of 
an accident by stringing wired lighting systems between vehicles and 
securing the wires. With the advent of LED technology coupled with 
advancements in battery technologies, wireless tow lights are more 
reliable and better equipped for the rigors of daily temporary use.
    Temporary wireless stop, turn, tail lighting systems can operate 
for 10+ hours of

[[Page 6307]]

continuous use on a full charge, and in-cab wire-less monitoring 
systems give the driver constant information on the functioning of 
the system, displaying state of charge of the battery inside the 
unit, displaying the functioning of the system during operation, and 
warning the driver if the unit is no longer functioning. In this 
sense, wireless tow lights provide a level of safety and redundancy 
that is not currently required on wired temporary lighting systems. 
In an emergency situation with a drained battery, power can be 
directly connected to the temporary wireless stop, turn, and tail 
lighting system from a standard 4 pin or 7 pin electrical 
connection.
    Without the proposed temporary exemption, tow and haul away 
operators will be forced to continue to use cumbersome wired 
temporary towing light systems, placing an unnecessary burden on 
their daily operations. The current temporary lighting requirements 
for stop, tail, and turn lamps require that the lamps receive their 
power from a direct wired connection to the towing vehicle with no 
ascertainable benefit from doing such. Wireless tow lights afford 
benefits that wired systems are unable to, such as redundancies like 
monitoring the status of the unit in real time, thus assuring their 
proper operation at all times.

    On August 6, 2015, FMCSA published notice of the TowMate 
application and requested public comment (80 FR 47031). The Agency 
received twenty comments, all in support of TowMate's application. 
FMCSA granted the exemption on February 9, 2016 (81 FR 6927). The 
Agency concluded that permitting the use of rechargeable wireless 
temporary stop, turn, and tail lighting systems during temporary towing 
operations will reduce the time tow operators spend at the side of the 
road connecting wired lighting systems between vehicles, thereby 
reducing their risk of injury and increasing safety. The Agency 
determined that use of the rechargeable wireless lighting systems will 
maintain a level of safety that is equivalent to, or greater than, the 
level of safety achieved without the exemption. In towing operations 
during the exemption period, motor carriers are allowed to use 
rechargeable wireless temporary stop, turn, and tail lighting systems 
that do not meet the lighting power supply requirements of 49 CFR 
393.23, provided the requirements of 49 CFR 393.17(b)(2) are met. The 
decision to grant the temporary exemption was also consistent with an 
amendment made in an August 15, 2005 final rule allowing battery 
powered lamps on the rear of projecting loads.

TowMate's Request To Renew the Exemption

    At the time the exemption was granted, the term of temporary 
exemptions was limited by statute to a maximum of 2 years. However, the 
Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, signed on December 
4, 2015, now allows an exemption to be granted for a period of up to 5 
years (49 U.S.C. 31315(b)(2)) if FMCSA 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'' (Sec.  
31315(b)(1)). TowMate has requested a 5-year extension of the current 
exemption.

Basis for Renewing Exemption

    FMCSA is not aware of any evidence showing that the operation of 
rechargeable wireless temporary stop, turn, and tail lighting systems 
during temporary towing operations during the current exemption has 
resulted in any degradation of safety. The Agency believes that 
extending the exemption for a period of 5 years will likely achieve a 
level of safety that is equivalent to, or greater than, the level of 
safety achieved without the exemption.
    The renewal outlined in this notice extends the exemption from 
February 9, 2018, through February 9, 2023, and requests public 
comment. During that period, motor carriers will be allowed to use 
rechargeable wireless temporary stop, turn, and tail lighting systems 
that do not meet the lighting power supply requirements of 49 CFR 
393.23 during temporary towing operations, provided the requirements of 
49 CFR 393.17(b)(2) are met. The exemption will be valid for 5 years 
unless rescinded earlier by FMCSA. The exemption will be rescinded if: 
(1) Motor carriers and/or commercial motor vehicles fail to comply with 
the terms and conditions of the exemption; (2) the exemption has 
resulted in a lower level of safety than was maintained before it was 
granted; or (3) continuation of the exemption would not be consistent 
with the goals and objectives of 49 U.S.C. 31136(e) and 31315.

Preemption

    In accordance with 49 U.S.C. 31315(d), as implemented by 49 CFR 
381.600, during the period this exemption is in effect, no State shall 
enforce any law or regulation applicable to interstate commerce that 
conflicts with or is inconsistent with this exemption with respect to a 
firm or person operating under the exemption. States may, but are not 
required to, adopt the same exemption with respect to operations in 
intrastate commerce.

Request for Comments

    FMCSA requests comments from parties with data concerning the 
safety record of motor carriers using rechargeable wireless temporary 
stop, turn, and tail lighting systems during temporary towing 
operations in accordance with the conditions of the exemption. The 
Agency will evaluate adverse evidence submitted during the comment 
period and at any time during the 5-year period of the exemption. If 
safety is being compromised or if continuation of the exemption would 
not be consistent with the goals and objectives of 49 U.S.C. 31136(e) 
and 31315(b)(1), FMCSA will take immediate steps to revoke the 
exemption.

    Issued on: February 6, 2018.
Cathy F. Gautreaux,
Deputy Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2018-02890 Filed 2-12-18; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4910-EX-P