FMCSA grants regulatory relief to drivers taking emergency supplies to storm-hit states

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

Washington — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has announced temporary relief from regulations – including hours of service – for commercial motor vehicle drivers delivering “direct assistance” to emergency efforts in states affected by severe winter weather.

FMCSA’s regional emergency declaration – issued Feb. 17 and effective through March 4 or until the end of the emergency – covers 33 states and the District of Columbia. The declaration “is in response to damage and heating and other fuel shortages.”

Drivers covered under the declaration are transporting heating fuels (e.g., propane, natural gas and heating oil) and other fuel products, including gasoline. Also included are drivers transporting people, supplies, goods or equipment into and out of the affected states.

“When a driver is moving from emergency relief efforts to normal operations, a 10-hour break is required when the total time a driver operates conducting emergency relief efforts, or a combination of emergency relief and normal operation, equals 14 hours,” FMCSA says.

The regulatory relief “terminates” when a driver or CMV is used in interstate commerce or “to transport cargo or provide services not in support of emergency relief efforts related to the severe winter storm.” It also doesn’t apply when a motor carrier dispatches a driver or CMV to another place “to begin operations in commerce.” Likewise, drivers or motor carriers under an out-of-service order aren’t eligible for regulatory relief.

The regulatory relief doesn’t exempt drivers from testing for alcohol and controlled substances, commercial driver’s license requirements, insurance or financial responsibility requirements, hazardous materials regulations, and size and weight requirements.


McCraren Compliance can help you understand and comply with FMCSA and USDOT to ensure your drivers and your vehicles operate safely and efficiently.

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FMCSA extends pandemic-related hours-of-service exemptions

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

Washington — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration says temporary hours-of-service exemptions and other “regulatory relief” will continue for commercial motor vehicle drivers transporting items intended to assist in the COVID-19 pandemic relief efforts.

Announced Feb. 12, the extension of Emergency Declaration 2020-002, initially issued March 13 and expanded and modified multiple times, is scheduled to remain in effect through May 31.

Regulatory relief is extended to drivers who are transporting:

  • COVID-19 vaccines; constituent products; and medical supplies and equipment, including ancillary supplies/kits for the administration of vaccines
  • Medical supplies and equipment for the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19
  • Supplies and equipment to help curb the spread of COVID-19, including masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants
  • Food, paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking of stores or distribution centers
  • Livestock and livestock feed

Drivers making routine commercial deliveries, “including mixed loads with a nominal quantity of qualifying emergency relief added to obtain the benefits of this emergency declaration,” are not covered under the exemption.


McCraren Compliance can help you understand and comply with FMCSA and USDOT to ensure your drivers and your vehicles operate safely and efficiently.

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Federal Mask Requirement for Surface Transportation Providers

First published by FMCSA.

Yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an Order imposing a mask requirement applicable to public transportation systems, rail, and van, bus and motorcoach service providers to mitigate the risk of COVID-19.  The CDC Order implements President Biden’s Executive Order 13998, Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel, “to save lives and allow all Americans, including the millions of people employed in the transportation industry, to travel and work safely.”

Science-based measures are critical to preventing the spread of COVID-19. Mask-wearing is one of several proven life-saving measures including physical distancing, appropriate ventilation and timely testing that can reduce the transmission of COVID-19. Requiring masks will protect America’s transportation workers and passengers, help control the transmission of COVID-19, and aid in re-opening America’s economy.

In addition to the CDC order, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) anticipates issuing additional information and guidance on this topic.

The Department has posted a Frequently Asked Questions at this website. https://www.transportation.gov/safety/mask-travel-guidance

The Department will continue to add to this site with additional information in the coming days.

The U.S. Department of Transportation will be scheduling stakeholder calls beginning the week of February 1, 2021.

Please share the mask mandate information with colleagues and send questions to FMCSAMaskUp@dot.gov.

Links


McCraren Compliance can help you understand and comply with FMCSA and USDOT to ensure your drivers and your vehicles operate safely and efficiently.

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FMCSA proposes amending guidance on CMV ‘yard moves,’ hours of service

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

Washington — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is seeking public comment on a proposal to revise the agency’s guidance on “yard moves” and commercial motor vehicle drivers’ hours of service.

According to a notice published in the Jan. 4 Federal Register, FMCSA regulations require most CMV drivers to record their HOS under four categories: driving; on-duty, not driving; sleeper berth; and off-duty. The agency’s design and performance standards for electronic logging devices – which record HOS – provide two “special driving categories”: personal conveyance and yard moves.

FMCSA, however, did not define “yard moves” in its final rule on ELDs and is seeking to update its guidance to include the following: “A driver may record time operating a CMV for yard moves as on-duty, not driving under 49 CFR 395.8(b) only if the movement of the CMV occurs in a confined area on private property,” such as an intermodal or port facility.

Other examples of “yards” may include a motor carrier’s place of business; a shipper’s privately owned parking lot; and a public road where access is restricted by gates, lights, flaggers or other means.

“For example,” FMCSA says, “if a driver must operate on a public road briefly to reach different parts of a private property, the movement may be considered a yard move if public access is restricted during the move.”

Additionally, FMCSA is seeking responses to the following questions:

  • Would defining “yard moves” provide necessary clarification while benefiting drivers and carriers?
  • Are there other situations or properties where drivers may be in a “yard move” status that should be included in the guidance?
  • Would adding examples of “yard moves” prove helpful? If so, give examples for consideration.
  • How should “yard” be defined in the guidance?

The deadline to comment is Feb. 3. FMCSA plans to reevaluate its guidance “no later than” five years after it’s finalized.

“This guidance, if finalized, lacks the force and effect of law and is not meant to bind the public in any way,” FMCSA says. “This guidance document is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding the agency’s interpretation of its existing regulations.”


McCraren Compliance can help you understand and comply with FMCSA and USDOT to ensure your drivers and your vehicles operate safely and efficiently.

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FMCSA seeks to add rear impact guards to annual CMV inspection list

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

See the source image

Washington — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is proposing to add rear impact guards to the list of components to be examined during mandatory yearly inspections of commercial motor vehicles.

Rear impact guards are designed to prevent “underrides,” which occur when a passenger vehicle strikes the rear of a CMV and slides underneath.

According to a notice of proposed rulemaking published in the Dec. 29 Federal Register, rear impact guards have been required on CMVs for nearly 70 years but aren’t included on the list of components in Appendix G for required inspections. This means that a CMV can pass an annual inspection with a missing or damaged rear impact guard, FMCSA notes.

Additionally, the agency is proposing to amend labeling requirements for the guards “and to exclude road construction controlled (RCC) horizontal discharge trailers from the rear impact guard requirements.”

The deadline to comment on the proposed rule is March 1.


McCraren Compliance can help you understand and comply with FMCSA and USDOT to ensure your drivers and your vehicles operate safely and efficiently.

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FMCSA seeks comment on clarification of ‘agricultural commodities’

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

Washington — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is asking for input on an interim final rule that clarifies the definitions of the terms “any agricultural commodity” and “livestock” in the agency’s hours-of-service regulations for commercial truck drivers.

Current regulations call for exemptions in HOS requirements during harvesting and planting season in each state. Drivers are exempt in a 150-air-mile radius from the source of that agricultural commodity.

Published in the Nov. 24 Federal Register and effective Dec. 9, the interim final rule acknowledges the ambiguity of current regulations while amplifying the agency’s interpretation. The rule states that “horticultural products subject to perishability or significant degradation in product quality during transport” by commercial motor vehicle – such as sod, flowers, seedlings, live trees and Christmas trees – fall under the parameters of “any agricultural commodity.”

Additionally, FMCSA expands the scope of the definition of “livestock” to include “all living animals cultivated, grown or raised for commercial purposes.” Previously, the agency did not include aquatic animals under this description.

“Our nation’s farmers and agriculture haulers will benefit from this clarification of the rules and will be able to deliver their products in a safer and more efficient manner,” FMCSA acting administrator Wiley Deck said in a Nov. 19 press release. “These improved rules will help farmers move commodities and get food to our grocery stores. We have heard the concerns from our farmers and ag haulers, and we’ve worked closely with [the U.S. Department of Agriculture] and the industry to provide regulatory clarity and craft this new rule.”

FMCSA in July 2019 issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking requesting comment on whether to clarify or revise the definitions, receiving 140 responses. In June 2018, the agency issued guidance intended to clarify both the agricultural commodities exemption and the “personal conveyance” provision in HOS regulations.

Comments on the interim final rule are due Dec. 24. FMCSA states that it “will consider and address submitted comments in the final rule that will follow this IFR and may make changes to the rule in response to comments received.”


McCraren Compliance can help you understand and comply with FMCSA, DOT and ADOT and ensure your drivers and your vehicles operate safely and efficiently.

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Expansion and Extension of the Modified Emergency Declaration No. 2020-002 Under 49 CFR § 390.25

Expansion And Extension Of The Modified Emergency Declaration No. 2020-002 Under 49 CFR § 390.25
First published by Arizona Trucking Association.

Yesterday, FMCSA announced that they have expanded and extended the Emergency Declaration that was set to expire on December 31st. This extension includes the same regulatory relief for motor carriers and drivers providing direct assistance in support of relief efforts related to COVID-19, as included in the September 11th modified and extended declaration. The primary change with this current declaration is the inclusion of vaccine transportation.

The expanded declaration published today is limited to the transportation of:

  1. Livestock and livestock feed;
  2. Medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19;
  3. Vaccines, constituent products, and medical supplies and equipment including ancillary supplies/kits for the administration of vaccines, related to the prevention of COVID-19;
  4. Supplies and equipment necessary for community safety, sanitation, and prevention of community transmission of COVID-19 such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants, and;
  5. Food, paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores. 

Please note, this expanded declaration became effective at 12:00 A.M. December 1st, and expires on February 28th, 2021.

As with previous declarations, emergency regulatory relief is provided from parts 390 through 399 of the FMCSRs, including the hours-of-service regulations. Emergency relief does not include certain FMCSR’s related to the safe operation of CMVs, such as controlled substance and alcohol testing, financial responsibility requirements, CDL requirements, operation of a CMV while ill or fatigued, size and weight requirements, and additional FMCSR’s which are outlined in the declaration.

We encourage everyone to review the applicability, restrictions, and limitations which are included in the exemption posted to the FMCSA’s website and below.

Expansion and Extension of the Modified Emergency Declaration No. 2020-002 Under 49 CFR § 390.25


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Hours-of-service changes expected to arrive on time

First published by FMCSA.

The time has come. Beginning on Tuesday, Sept. 29, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s changes to the hours-of-service regulations go into effect.

Aimed to ease some of the rigidness of the regulations, FMCSA made four changes to the rules that the agency said are intended to give truckers more control in determining when it is safe to drive.

Short-haul exception

The new hours-of-service rules expand the short-haul exception to 150 air miles and allows a 14-hour work shift to take place as part of the exception.

“Under the previous rule, a driver based in Peoria, Ill., could not service Chicago and St. Louis,” FMCSA wrote. “The new rule allows the driver to service those two cities, as well as an additional two hours to do so.”

To use the short-haul exception, a driver must start and end the shift in the same location.

Adverse driving conditions

The exception expands the driving window during adverse driving conditions by as much as two hours.

The revised definition of “adverse driving conditions” is snow, ice, sleet, fog or other adverse weather conditions or unusual road or traffic conditions that couldn’t be reasonably known to a driver before the start the on-duty period or immediately after a rest period, and to a motor carrier before dispatching the driver.

FMCSA provided an example of a driver that is 15 miles from his destination when there is a gravel spill on the bridge ahead and the bridge is the only access to the destination. In the example, the driver has one hour left of driving time and one hour left in the driving day. Under the new provision, the driver can stop at the next exit (for up to two hours) until the road is clear and still have time to get to the destination without violating hours-of-service rules.

The agency advises drivers to make an annotation in their electronic logging device when utilizing the provision and to include details about the adverse driving condition.

30-minute break requirement

The new hours-of-service rules did not eliminate the 30-minute break mandate after eight hours of driving, but they do allow the break to be fulfilled through 30 minutes of on-duty, nondriving time. The change means that instead of taking the break off duty, the trucker can now take the break while getting fuel or while completing a maintenance check.

FMCSA emphasizes that under the change, drivers can either satisfy the break off duty, in the sleeper berth, or on duty while not driving. The 30-minute break can’t be broken down into increments.

Sleeper berth provision

The new rules modify the sleeper berth exception to allow drivers to take their 10 hours off duty in two periods, provided one off-duty period (whether in or out of the sleeper berth) is at least two hours long and the other involves at least seven consecutive hours spent in the sleeper. Neither period counts against the maximum 14-hour driving window.

The split could be 8/2, 7/3, or even 7.5/2.5.

FMCSA provided an example with a driver starting day one having just completed 10 consecutive hours off duty. In the example, the driver is on duty from midnight until 1 a.m. and then drives until 7 a.m. The driver then takes a three-hour break until 10 a.m. and goes back on duty until noon before resuming his drive until 5 p.m. Then the driver goes into the sleeper berth from 5 p.m. until midnight. In this example, the trucker had 11 hours of driving time and the break periods did not count against the driver’s 14-hour window.

new hours of service sleeper berth provision - FMCSA
Courtesy FMCSA/U.S. DOT

FMCSA video

FMCSA created a video to explain the rule changes that can be found here.

“The main part of this rule is to provide flexibility to drivers in how they schedule their days to be most efficient, safe and productive in their activity each day,” Joe DeLorenzo, FMCSA’s acting associate administrator of enforcement, said in the video.

FMCSA provides a series of questions and answers regarding the new rules here.

Opposition

The new hours-of-service rules are poised to go into effect despite a recent lawsuit from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and a coalition of safety groups.

On Sept. 16, the groups filed a petition for review of FMCSA’s final rule in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Before filing the lawsuit, the groups petitioned the agency to reconsider the final rule, calling it “flawed.” FMCSA denied the petitions, emphasizing that the rule changes did not provide additional driving time.


McCraren Compliance can help you understand and comply with FMCSA, DOT and ADOT and ensure your drivers and your vehicles operate safely and efficiently.

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FMCSA taking driver panel applications until Oct. 16

Image
First published by FMCSA.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has released details of how truckers can apply to be a part of the agency’s commercial motor vehicle driver panel.

FMCSA announced the creation of the panel, which will serve as a subcommittee to the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee, on Sept. 18. According to the agency, the panel will provide direct feedback to FMCSA on important issues, such as safety, hours of service, training, parking and driver experience.

The panel is expected to be comprised of about 25 drivers from all sectors of the industry.

FMCSA said on Sept. 28 that it is accepting applications for the panel until Oct. 16.

To apply, the agency asks for commercial drivers to submit a resume detailing your driving experience and a personal statement outlining how your qualifications and experience as a driver make you suitable to be on the panel. A letter of recommendation may be included but is not required.

The documents need to be emailed to MCSACDriver@dot.gov by Oct. 16.

“Truck drivers and other commercial vehicle operators are American heroes who have stepped up during the current public health emergency to keep our economy moving, so their input is essential to strengthening safety on the roads,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao said in a news release.

FMCSA said the goal of the panel is to capture a wide array of viewpoints and experiences within the commercial motor vehicle community.

“The Department of Transportation and this administration believe in listening to our drivers and hearing their concerns directly,” FMCSA acting Administrator Wiley Deck said. “We know that many of the solutions to the challenges we face don’t come from Washington. They come from the hard-working men and women who are behind the wheel all over our nation. This new subcommittee to MCSAC will further help us hear from America’s commercial drivers.”

More information about the new panel can be found here.


McCraren Compliance can help you understand and comply with FMCSA, DOT and ADOT and ensure your drivers and your vehicles operate safely and efficiently.

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Group files suit against FMCSA, DOT over final rule amending trucker hours-of-service regulations

As new hours-of-service regulations from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration are scheduled to go into effect Sept. 29, a group has filed a petition asking a federal court to overturn the new rules.

As new hours-of-service regulations from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration are scheduled to go into effect Sept. 29, a group has filed a petition asking a federal court to overturn the new rules.

Washington — A coalition of roadway safety advocacy groups, in conjunction with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, has filed a lawsuit against the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Department of Transportation challenging a controversial final rule FMCSA claims will add flexibility to hours-of-service regulations for commercial truck drivers.

In the lawsuit, filed Sept. 16 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways, Parents Against Tired Truckers, and the Teamsters request a reexamination of the final rule as well as their petition for FMCSA to reconsider the rule. The groups filed the petition June 30, and FMCSA denied it Aug. 25.

At press time, the rule was slated to take effect Sept. 29. The petitioners call the rule “flawed” in a Sept. 16 press release.

“Under the guise of increased flexibility, the changes will further exacerbate the already well-known threat of fatigue among commercial motor vehicle drivers by significantly weakening current HOS rules,” the release states.

Under the rule, announced in a May 14 agency press release and published in the June 1 Federal Register, FMCSA will:

  • Change the short-haul exemption to 150 air miles from 100, and 14 hours on duty from 12, to be consistent for rules with long-haul truck drivers.
  • Extend the current 14-hour on-duty limitation by up to two hours when a truck driver encounters adverse driving conditions.
  • Revise the current mandatory 30-minute break for truck drivers after eight hours of continuous driving.
  • Reinstate the option for splitting up the required 10-hour off-duty rest break for drivers operating trucks equipped with sleeper berth compartments.

In the petition, the groups contend that “the final rule is not in the public interest and does not meet the agency’s statutory mission in carrying out its duties to assign and maintain safety as the highest priority.” They cite National Highway Traffic Administration data showing that 4,951 fatalities in incidents involving a large truck occurred in 2018, as well as additional research highlighting fatigue-related hazards associated with the profession.

Preliminary data released in NHTSA’s May 2020 “Traffic Safety Facts” report shows that fatalities in incidents involving a large truck are projected to have increased 1% in 2019.

“If I fall asleep on the job, my head hits the keyboard,” Cathy Chase, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, said in the Sept. 16 release. “If a truck driver falls asleep, his/her head hits the windshield, and that’s only part of the catastrophic outcome. Allowing operators to work longer hours and drive farther distances without proper rest breaks and other protections ignores science, data and expert opinion.”

Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa also expresses his opposition to the final rule in the release.

“By issuing this HOS regulation, FMCSA has bowed to special trucking industry interests at the expense of highway safety, seeking longer workdays for drivers who are already being pushed to the limit,” Hoffa said. “We join this lawsuit to ensure that our members and their families are protected from fatigued drivers when they use our nation’s roadways.”

The rule doesn’t include a proposed provision that would have allowed covered CMV operators one rest break of up to three consecutive hours during every 14-hour on-duty period. However, under a proposed FMCSA pilot program published in the Sept. 3 Federal Register, CMV operators would be allowed one rest break of up to three consecutive hours but no less than 30 minutes during every 14-hour on-duty period. Comments on the pilot program are due Nov. 2.

In a May 14 video posted on the DOT’s YouTube channel, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao said the final rule’s provisions “will help drivers reach their destination safely without feeling like they’ve got to race against the clock to comply with federal mandates. They will also help truckers get the rest they need when they need it. When safety rules make sense, drivers are better table to comply, and that benefits everyone.”


McCraren Compliance can help you understand and comply with FMCSA, DOT and ADOT and ensure your drivers and your vehicles operate safely and efficiently.

Call us Today at 888-758-4757 or email us at info@mccrarencompliance.com to schedule your free FMCSA Compliance Assessment