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Partial victory: Fuel hauler wins first Intellistop exemption

May 28, 2024
FMCSA grants three-time safety champion’s long-delayed exemption request—but with new stipulations that limit the deployment of a preferred trailer safety device

Gemini Motor Transport, the primary fuel hauler for Love’s Travel Stops, collected its third North American safety championship May 7 during National Tank Truck Carriers’ 2024 Annual Conference in Las Vegas.

It won the first exemption for Intellistop’s pulsating brake lamp module three days later.

The long-awaited Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration decision, secured with help from NTTC and Intellistop president Michelle Hanby, finally hit the Federal Register more than 15 months after it was published, 20 months after it was submitted, and nearly 3½ years after Intellistop filed the original exemption application for its safety device, which FMCSA only denied after Hanby petitioned a D.C. court to compel a ruling—all of which leaves Gemini’s Jim Dillon scratching his head.

“No one is more aggressive when it comes to safety than Gemini,” Dillon, Gemini truck assets manager, insisted. “We look at every aspect, and every single angle we can, to make our equipment safer, not only for our drivers but for the motoring public who’s out there with us. So it’s hard to believe it took this long, and this much struggle, to get something a lot of people feel is going to make trucks safer.

“I don’t have a good explanation for their rationale in dragging this out forever.”

The first Intellistop exemption took so long that Jack Van Steenburg, whose emails to Hanby in January 2022 provided the first indication FMCSA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration aren’t fully aligned, retired from his position as FMCSA executive director—the agency’s highest career office—and spent a year on the sideline before returning as a commercial vehicle safety consultant ready to share his frustration with a system that limits the speed of innovation.

“By the time we do more research and come up with a new rule in the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, it’s too late,” he told Bulk Transporter. “The technology we have today is still evolving, and the federal government gets caught up with rulemaking—and the process to change a rulemaking is not efficient at all.”

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About the Author

Jason McDaniel

Jason McDaniel, based in the Houston TX area, has nearly 20 years of experience as a journalist. He spent 15 writing and editing for daily newspapers, including the Houston Chronicle, and began covering the commercial vehicle industry in 2018. He was named editor of Bulk Transporter and Refrigerated Transporter magazines in July 2020.