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June 2021 Significant Rulemaking Report
Foley
7 mins read

As you likely well know, significant rulemaking from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has been all but halted for more than a year-and-a-half due to the COVID-19 crisis.

But wheels are starting to turn again on the regulation front, and there are other important rulings and dates that you as a motor carrier should be well aware of to run a safe fleet and maintain compliance.

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CDL and Medical Card Waiver Extension

The FMCSA has once again extended its waiver on CDLs and medical certificates—this time until August 31.

The waivers were initiated in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 national emergency declaration, and have since been extended six times. They allow—but do not require— states to extend the validity of expiring interstate and intrastate commercial driver’s license and commercial learner’s permits.

CDLs due for renewal on or after March 1 can be extended beyond the 8-year maximum period, and learner’s permits due for renewal on or after March 1 can be extended beyond the 1-year maximum period. The requirement to retake general and endorsement knowledge tests is also waived, as is the 14-day waiting period for permit holders to take the CDL skills test.

The extension also applies to medical cards, medical examinations and medical certifications that expired on or after March 1. But drivers must still carry copies of their expired medical certificate and any required variance.

However, it’s important to note that, because the FMCSA decision is not a requirement and was left up to state discretion, you should double check the status in your home state. You could still be operating non-compliantly if your state did not adopt the waiver permission.

Also, keep close tabs on the status of the waivers, as the FMCSA has said that it plans to review them on July 1 and may take action to end them sooner should conditions warrant it.

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HOS Relief

The FMCSA has also extended an emergency declaration that provides regulatory relief for truck drivers directly involved in COVID-19 relief efforts. This relaxes hours-of-service regulations through August 31 for motor carriers and commercial motor vehicle drivers involved in the transportation of:

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

As with the CDL and medical card waivers, this is not a federal requirement, so confirm the status of your state. Also check back to see if the FMCSA rolls back the relief sooner than August 31.

Speed Limiter Bill Reintroduced

On May 25, the Cullum Owings Large Truck Safe Operating Speed Act was reintroduced to the U.S. House of Representatives. Initially introduced in 2019, the bill, if eventually made law, would:

  • Require all new commercial motor vehicles to be equipped with speed limiters.
  • Require existing speed-limiting technologies already installed in commercial motor vehicles manufactured after 1992 to be used while in operation.
  • Require that the maximum safe operating speed of commercial motor vehicles not exceed 65 miles per hour, or 70 miles per hour with certain safety technologies (such as adaptive cruise control systems or automatic emergency braking systems).

The bill is named for a 22-year-old Atlanta resident who was killed in a car-truck collision in 2002, and it is supported by the Trucking Alliance, the Truckload Carriers Association, AAA, the Safe Operating Speed Alliance, the Institute for Safer Trucking, and Road Safe America, a nonprofit founded by Cullum Owings’ family.

Foley will be closely following the status of this proposed bill, so be sure to check back regularly.

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Safe Driver Week Coming Up

Carriers may be breathing a sigh of relief that the annual Roadcheck is finally behind us. But next up? Operation Safe Driver Week, which is set to take place July 11-17, 2021.

During this initiative, law enforcement agencies across North America engage in heightened traffic safety enforcement and education to help combat unsafe driving behaviors.

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) chose speeding as the focus of this year’s event due to the fact that, in 2020, jurisdictions across the country saw spikes in single-vehicle accidents and speeding tickets. This was despite—or more likely because of—fewer vehicles being on the roads due to COVID-19 stay-at-home orders. Less traffic encouraged some drivers to ignore safety laws and speed limits, according to the CVSA. Supporting this theory is the fact that the estimated death rate increased by 24%, even though the total number of miles driven dropped by 13%.

Enforcement officials will also be on the lookout for other behaviors such as seat belt use, following too closely, improper lane changes, and evidence of drunk, distracted, or reckless driving. They will perform driver roadside inspections, as well.

And following up that event: Brake Safety Week, to be held August 22 through 28. There will also be an unannounced one-day brake safety enforcement initiative (to be held at any time). During both campaigns, inspectors will check brake systems on large trucks and buses throughout North America.

The bottom line of all this: Make sure your fleet is ready. Know safety regulations in-and-out—and ensure that your drivers do, too—perform self-inspections, and make any needed repairs or upgrades as soon as possible.

Of course, no matter the case when it comes to regulations or safety and inspection events, you should always remain vigilant when it comes to compliance.

As specialists in compliance, Foley is here to help keep your business and fleet running smoothly and safely. Contact us today!

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