Whatever the political headlines of the day, federal agencies continue to add new trucking regulations, adopt new forms, and extend or discontinue previous waivers and exemptions. In this series, “Trucking Things to Know Now,” PrePass provides quick updates on regulatory developments, often with links to more information.

Did you know that states have a stake in federal drug testing and enforcement? And who expected to see a drug enforcement rule from the Federal Highway Administration?

FHWA recently issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to update regulations requiring states to certify the status of state law on the revocation or suspension of drug offenders’ driver’s licenses. The proposal seeks only to clarify existing law, but eight percent of a state’s federal highway funds are at stake. Money talks, so expect more attention to drugs and driving from the states.

X-rays alone no longer constitute “medical treatment.” Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) define an “accident” as involving a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) operating on a highway which results in:

  1.  a fatality,
  2.  bodily injury to a person who, as a result of the injury, receives medical treatment away from the scene of the accident, or
  3. one or more motor vehicles being towed from the scene.

FMCSA requires motor carriers to maintain an accident register for three years after the date of each ‘‘accident.’’ Crash involvement can affect a motor carrier’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) score and eligibility for bypass programs like PrePass. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently published guidance that x-rays alone are a diagnostic procedure and do not constitute “medical treatment” under part (2) above. However, if a person also received prescription pain relievers, then it becomes “medical treatment” under part (2), and the event was an “accident.”

FMCSA extends enforcement discretion for driver’s licenses, and medical cards. FMCSA recently extended the COVID-19 emergency declaration affecting the maximum driving time for motor carriers providing “direct assistance in support of relief efforts.” It also extended existing enforcement discretion related to the renewal of commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) and commercial learner’s permits (CLPs).

Now through April 15, 2022, FMCSA is extending discretionary enforcement against:

  • a CLP or CDL holder operating a CMV with an expired license, if the CLP or CDL was valid on Feb. 29, 2020, and expired on or after March 1, 2020;
  • a motor carrier that allows that operation;
  • a CMV driver, or a motor carrier allowing CMV operation, when the driver does not have the current medical certificate and any required medical variance, but only if the driver has evidence of a valid medical certification or medical variance that expired on or after Dec. 1, 2021.

CLP holders and state driver licensing agencies also get extensions. FMCSA has extended through May 31, 2022, its existing waivers that allow:

  • a CLP holder to operate a CMV when the accompanying CDL holder is elsewhere in the CMV but not in the front seat alongside the driver;
  • CLP holders to take the CDL skills test in the first 14 days after issuance of the CLP; and
  • states to administer driving skills test to out-of-state CDL applicants.

FMCSA formally withdraws two Notices of Proposed Rulemaking. While FMCSA recently extended the COVID-19 waivers that: allow states to administer driving skills test to out-of-state CDL applicants; and to utilize third-party skills trainers to also administer the CDL skills test, the agency has withdrawn the corresponding NPRMs which would have made those changes permanent. FMCSA cited comments on the security and operational concerns surrounding out-of-state knowledge testing, including remote delivery of the CLP credentials, and undermining the integrity of the CDL skills testing process in withdrawing the proposals.

Read the previous installments of “Trucking Things to Know Now: Federal Regulatory Updates.”