COVID-19 pandemic: Expanded FMCSA emergency declaration includes hours-of-service exemptions

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Photo: WendellandCarolyn/iStockphoto

Washington — Commercial motor vehicle drivers transporting items intended to assist in COVID-19 pandemic relief efforts are temporarily exempt from federal hours-of-service regulations, under an expanded national emergency declaration issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on March 18.

The declaration augments an initial declaration issued March 13 and offers regulatory relief to drivers transporting:

  • Medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19
  • Supplies and equipment necessary for community safety, sanitation and prevention of community transmission of COVID-19, including masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants
  • Food, paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores
  • Immediate precursor raw materials (e.g., paper, plastic or alcohol) that are required and to be used for the manufacture of essential items
  • Fuel
  • Equipment, supplies and people necessary to establish and manage temporary housing and quarantine
  • People designated by federal, state or local authorities for medical, isolation or quarantine purposes
  • People necessary to provide other medical or emergency services

“FMCSA is providing additional regulatory relief to our nation’s commercial drivers to get critically important medical supplies, food and household goods to Americans in need,” acting administrator Jim Mullen said in a March 18 press release. “The nation’s truck drivers are on the front lines of this effort and are critical to America’s supply chain. We will continue to support them and use our authority to protect the health and safety of the American people.”

FMCSA notes that direct assistance excludes routine commercial deliveries, “including mixed loads with a nominal quantity of emergency relief added to obtain the benefits of the emergency declaration.”

“Once the driver has returned to the terminal or the driver’s normal reporting location, the driver must be relieved of all duty and responsibilities and must receive a minimum of 10 hours off duty if transporting property, and eight hours if transporting passengers,” the declaration states.

The World Health Organization on March 11 declared COVID-19 a global pandemic

FMCSA CDL Waiver

Waiver in Response to the COVID-19 Emergency –
For States, CDL Holders, CLP Holders, and Interstate Drivers Operating

Commercial Motor Vehicles

March 24, 2020

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

ACTION: Grant of waiver.

SUMMARY: FMCSA grants, until June 30, 2020, a waiver from certain regulations applicable to interstate and intrastate commercial driver’s license (CDL) and commercial learner’s permit (CLP) holders and to other interstate drivers operating commercial motor vehicles (CMVs). The Agency has initiated this action in response to the President’s declaration of a national emergency under 42 U.S.C. § 5191(b) related to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

DATES: This waiver is effective March 20, 2020 and expires on June 30, 2020. Read More»

Expanded Emergency Declaration Under 49 CFR § 390.23 No. 2020-002 (Relating to COVID-19)

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Frequently Asked Questions Related to the FMCSA Emergency Declaration 03/19/2020:   https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/emergency/frequently-asked-questions-related-fmcsa-emergency-declaration-03192020

Notice to State Drivers Licensing Agencies of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Policy Regarding Effect of Actions during COVID-19 Emergency
https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/emergency/notice-state-drivers-licensing-agencies-federal-motor-carrier-safety-administrations

Notice of Enforcement Discretion – Emergency Declaration 2020-002 – COVID-19 – 03-20-2020
https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/emergency/notice-enforcement-discretion-emergency-declaration-2020-002-covid-19-03-20-2020

DHS Guide on Essential Workers:   https://www.cisa.gov/publication/guidance-essential-critical-infrastructure-workforce

General Information regarding TSA Enrollment Services:    https://www.tsa.gov/sites/default/files/esvp_covid-19-faqs-03202020.pdf

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration 

EXPANDED EMERGENCY DECLARATION
UNDER 49 CFR § 390.23
No. 2020-002

THE FIFTY UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

The President has declared a nationwide emergency pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 5191(b), and pursuant to 49 CFR § 390.23(a)(l)(i), an emergency exists that warrants an exemption from Parts 390 through 399 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR), except as otherwise restricted by this Emergency Declaration. Such emergency is in response to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreaks and their effects on people and the immediate risk they present to public health, safety and welfare in the fifty States and the District of Columbia. This Declaration addresses National emergency conditions that create a need for immediate transportation of essential supplies, equipment and persons, and provides necessary relief from the FMCSR for motor carriers and drivers engaged in the transport of essential supplies, equipment and persons. Read More»

FMCSA final rule delays compliance date for CMV driver minimum training requirements

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Photo: vitpho/iStockphoto

Washington — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is delaying by two years the compliance date of its final rule on minimum training requirements for entry-level commercial motor vehicle drivers.

According to an interim final rule published in the Feb. 4 Federal Register, the new compliance date is Feb. 7, 2022.

The final rule, initially published in December 2016 and set to go into effect Feb. 7 this year, was the first to establish minimum training standards for first-time applicants for Class A or B commercial drivers’ licenses or those seeking a CDL upgrade to Class A or B. It also set standards for drivers attempting to obtain hazardous materials, passenger or school bus endorsements for the first time.

According to the interim rule, the extension will give FMCSA extra time to develop its Training Provider Registry – a list of certified training providers. Delaying the compliance date also gives state driver licensing agencies time to modify their computer systems and procedures to receive entry-level driver training data.

FMCSA in July initially proposed to delay two provisions of the final rule. However, 40 of the 56 comments received on the proposed rule advocated a full delay.

Petitions to reconsider the delay are due March 5, and comments on the interim final rule must be submitted by March 20.

FMCSA Announces Final Rulemaking for 2020 UCR Fees 2020 Registration Period to Open Soon

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has announced on its website fees for the 2020 Unified Carrier Registration Plan (UCR):  https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/fees-unified-carrier-registration-plan-and-agreement.

PLEASE NOTE:  UCR fees for the 2020 registration period will only become effective upon publication in the Federal Register.  We expect this to occur within the next few days.  Of course, UCR will make a new announcement when the 2020 fees are officially published in the Federal Register.

UCR Registration at www.ucr.gov

The UCR National Registration System (www.ucr.gov) will be ready to handle registrations when the final rulemaking is published.  For support or questions, call 1-833-UCR-PLAN or send an email to helpdesk@ucr.gov.

Recommended Enforcement Timing

State enforcement of the UCR registration requirements commonly begins January 1.  But since the opening of the 2020 registration period was delayed several months, UCR is requesting states delay enforcement until May 1, 2020.

FMCSA Increases Random Drug Test Rate to 50% for 2020

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is increasing the minimum annual percentage rate for random controlled substances testing for truck drivers.

According to a document published in the Federal Register on Dec. 27, the agency is increasing the minimum annual percentage rate for random drug testing from 25% of the average number of driver positions to 50% of the average number of driver positions. This change will take effect Jan. 1, 2020.

For reference, FMCSA estimates there are 3.2 million commercial driver license holders participating in interstate commerce and 1 million CDL holders participating in intrastate commerce. Under the annual random testing rate of 25% of all driving positions, this meant at least 1.05 million random controlled substances tests were to be conducted. With a new annual random testing rate of 50%, approximately 2.1 million random tests will need to be conducted in 2020.

CVSA reminds truckers: No ‘soft enforcement’ for ELD transition

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Washington — Commercial motor vehicle inspectors will not observe a “soft enforcement” grace period for drivers still using automatic onboard recording devices to track their hours of service after Dec. 16, and such drivers will be placed out of service for violating Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance warns in a Dec. 2 press release.

An FMCSA final rule requiring CMV drivers to track HOS via electronic logging devices took effect Dec. 18, 2017. However, the agency exempted for two years motor carriers who installed and used AOBRDs before the rule’s compliance date, giving them until Dec. 16 to transition to ELDs.

“Motor carriers utilizing an AOBRD must have a fully operational ELD installed by Dec. 17, 2019,” the release states. “If a commercial motor vehicle driver is required to have an ELD and the vehicle is not equipped with a registered compliant ELD, the driver is considered to have no record of duty status; that also applies to a driver still using an automatic onboard recording device after the AOBRD to ELD transition deadline.”

Speaking to Transport Topics in a Dec. 5 report, CVSA Executive Director Collin Mooney expressed confidence that a majority of motor carriers will be in compliance by the deadline. Still, Mooney said, the number of motor carriers who are not operating AOBRDs or have not chosen an ELD vendor has “eluded” the organization.

Register Now for the Clearinghouse and Be Ready for January 6

Purchase Query PlanThe FMCSA CDL Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse will be fully operational on January 6, 2020. Starting on this date, employers, including owner-operators, will need to be registered to:

  • Conduct queries to access a driver’s Clearinghouse record, after obtaining the driver’s consent. Beginning January 6, you will be required to conduct a full query in the Clearinghouse before hiring any CDL driver.
  • Designate a consortium/third-party administrator (C/TPA), if you work with one, which enables your C/TPA to access the Clearinghouse on your behalf. This is a requirement of all owner-operators.
  • Purchase a query plan, which must be in place before you, or your designated C/TPA, can conduct queries.
  • Report violations of FMCSA’s drug and alcohol testing program.

You can prepare for January 6 by registering for the Clearinghouse today. (If you have an FMCSA Portal account, ensure you have the correct Portal user role in place.)

FMCSA Updates SMS Website

FMCSA has updated the CSA SMS Website with the November 29, 2019 results.

Complete SMS results are available to enforcement users and motor carriers that are logged into the SMS. Logged-in enforcement users can view all carrier safety data, while logged-in motor carriers can only view their own data. If you are a motor carrier and do not have login credentials, please click here for more information on how to obtain your PIN.

LAST REMINDER: Transition your AOBRDs by December 16, 2019

Beginning December 17, 2019, at 12:01 a.m., motor carriers and drivers subject to the ELD rule must use self-certified ELDs that are registered with FMCSA to record their hours-of-service data. If a driver or motor carrier fails to use an ELD when one is required, the driver and motor carrier will be in in violation of the ELD rule and will be cited in accordance with 49 CFR 395.8(a)(1); and the driver will be placed out-of-service in accordance with the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance OOS criteria.

Don’t forget to:

Exceptions and Exemptions to the ELD Rule Will Remain in Effect

The ELD exceptions delineated in the ELD rule and the ELD exemptions announced by FMCSA will not be impacted by the December 16 deadline. Motor carriers and drivers who operate under these exceptions and exemptions will continue to be able to use alternate methods of record-keeping after ELD full compliance goes into effect.

To learn more about the phases of ELD Implementation, view the ELD Implementation Timeline

NEW: Searchable ELD Frequently Asked Questions

The ELD website now offers an easier way to view the frequently asked questions on the ELD rule and technical specifications. Browse by categories or search by key terms to find the information you need.

Visit the new ELD FAQs page