Trucking companies and their professional drivers remain hard at work, delivering needed goods and medical supplies during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. At the same time, commercial motor vehicle law enforcement and related agencies continue to protect the highways even as they take on additional assignments related to the pandemic. PrePass says a big “thank you” to our trucking and state agency partners!
COVID-19 has moved government agencies to issue emergency declarations, as well as change and delay government programs and regulations that impact the trucking industry. In addition to the expanded FMCSA waiver on driver hours of service and increased weight allowances by states for vehicles delivering essential supplies, here are some other related updates:
The U.S. Department of Transportation has issued COVID-19 related guidance on drug and alcohol testing. Drug and alcohol testing is not waived, but the guidance does allow employers to document why a test could not be conducted, such as the lack of testing supplies, open clinics and certified medical professionals, many of whom have been called to assist in fighting the pandemic. Importantly, the requirement of pre-employment drug testing for potential new hires remains in place.
Also, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has given relief to current professional drivers whose commercial driver licenses (CDLs), permits and/or medical cards have expired or are set to expire after March 1, 2020. The waiver extends renewal deadlines for those types of documents to June 30, 2020.
Between now and June 30, FMCSA will not enforce those requirements against drivers who fall under the waiver, though drivers must still hold a license appropriate to the type of vehicle they are driving and remain physically qualified to operate a commercial motor vehicle. The FMCSA waiver does not apply to:
- licenses that expired prior to March 1;
- drivers whose driving privileges have been suspended or revoked;
- drivers who never obtained a medical certification in the first place;
- drivers who, since their last medical examination, have developed a medical condition that would disqualify them from operating a commercial motor vehicle; or
- drivers whose expiring medical card was valid for a period of fewer than 90 days.
In addition to temporary relief for existing CDL drivers, FMCSA has granted expanded ability for holders of Commercial Learning Permits (CLPs) to operate a commercial motor vehicle while a CDL driver is present in the cab but not necessarily in the jump seat. This FMCSA declaration includes the ability of a non-domicile state to complete the skills testing of the CLP holder. The declaration runs through June 30, 2020 or until the President’s national emergency declaration is withdrawn, whichever is sooner.
As part of the coronavirus response, the Trump administration also postponed the October 1, 2020 REAL ID deadline to October 1, 2021. All states are required to issue REAL IDs to replace standard driver licenses. After the new deadline, commercial airlines, along with many secured facilities, will not accept any other form of ID.
If you are looking for more information, the FMCSA has created a new webpage where you can find, all in one place, the latest trucking information, declarations and resources in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Also, the American Trucking Associations has a convenient website for ongoing COVID-19 updates. This site includes updates on the many different size and weight variances states have granted trucks involved in COVID-19 relief efforts.
Information on how best to protect yourself from the virus can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
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